No one celebrates October festivities like people on the North Shore…Salem anyone? But starting this year Halloween and everything that it entails: candy, pumpkin flavored everything and apple picking needs to step aside because October is officially Cheese Month.
Declared by the American Cheese Society, October is officially the month to celebrate the world of cheese, but not just any cheese, Artisan American Cheese. At this years annual cheese conference held in Montreal brothers Bill and Doug Shube, owners of Shubie’s in Marblehead, heard about this national celebration. After being surrounded by over 1600 different cheeses and tasting some of the finest products in the country the brothers decided that they were going to partake in the celebration. Owning one of the finest food shops on the north shore the dynamic duo knew it would be a perfect fit in their already expansive cheese section.
“At the conference they announced that they were declaring October the first annual cheese month,” says Bill. “And we said to ourselves, that’s a fun opportunity and we should do something with it. We liked the idea of having kind of an excuse to promote our American cheeses which we love and we want more people to taste and love as much as we do.”
After returning from the conference the brothers didn’t have much time to prepare, for October was right around the corner. They ordered about 30 different cheeses, ranging form Massachusetts all the way to Seattle. While choosing their selection there is one trait that they always stick to which sets them apart from many other food stores. Instead of looking at the larger companies, which produce mass quantities of cheese, Bill and Doug opt for smaller farms, and although it may be more expensive, the quality is worth the price.
“The one difficulty with American cheese is they’re pricey and sometimes I think there is a sticker shock for people,” says Doug. “There are ones that are reasonably priced, but a lot of them are twenty-two or twenty-six [dollars], we even have ones that are forty dollars a pound. So it is expensive but if you look at it, you get a quarter pound of cheese for six to eight bucks, what else are you going to get for eight dollars that is so delicious and so good.”
With the cheeses being more of a splurge than necessity, Bill and Doug understand when customers are hesitant to purchase a large amount. That is why they are quick to cut open any wheel and offer taste tests. More special cheese-month treats the guys have put together are nightly cheese plates, where customers get to indulge in cheese and wine, or they can build-your-own grilled cheese, where the chef picks the cheese and you pick the toppings. There will also be numerous events held throughout the month such as tastings, an evening where you can learn how to pair cheese with the right wine, the Shubie’s annual fall and food wine festival. To keep the celebration going after October Allison Hooper, co-founder of the Vermont Butter and Cheese Company, will grace customers with her presence and cooking skills in early November.
Although other food shops may be celebrating the month as well, nothing will quite compare to what Shubie’s has to offer. It is apparent through talking to the brothers and seeing all they have planned for October that there is a serious passion for cheese, did I mention they were both wearing ‘I love Cheese’ pins? Selling great cheese is important to them but their main goal is to educate customers about true American Cheese, not the orange Kraft singles that anyone can buy in a grocery store.
“We love cheese,” says Bill “And it’s been a really fun opportunity for us to get our customers more involved and interested.”
The guys were gracious enough to send us home with a couple samples. We tried the Allison Hooper’s Aged Cow and Goat Milk Cheese, Cheddar from Seattle that has claimed to be “the best in the world” (it was pretty fantastic) and cheese from Cato Corner Farm and Cowgirl Creamery. They also gave us some Windham Wheat crackers to pair with each cheese.
If we had to suggest one, you have to try Allison Hooper’s Cow and Goat’s Milk Cheese. It melts in your mouth and the flavor is so rich that a tiny bit will do the trick.