It’s not a casual statement; it’s a directive. Eat More Cheese. It's kind of neat when cheese is the boss of you.
Owners Tony and Natalia Rose opened this gourmet cheese shop last April that sits tucked behind Main Street behind Rollie’s Bar and Grill.
It requires just a short climb up a spiral staircase to get up to the shop, but once inside, it’s a cheese lover’s paradise. With warm mustard colored walls to the earthy logo and packaging, Eat More Cheese gives off a welcoming vibe. A large glass refrigerated case of various cheeses dominates the snug space with a counter to the left and four ice cream parlor style bar stools. Every available counter and shelf space is well used, featuring wheels of local cheeses, varieties from other states such as Vermont, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Virginia, California, Colorado as well as over the world (France, Netherlands, England, Spain.)
Though the Roses weren’t formally trained in cheese-making, they jumped into the gourmet cheese business with enthusiasm.
“We just taught ourselves by eating lots of eating cheese,” said Natalia. They’d been living in Portland, and most recently Auburn with their two-year-old daughter, Sophia, before relocating to Belfast. “We always knew this was a town that had a lot going on and liked how they catered to small businesses. And also, there was no place to get good cheese up here, so we figured we’d give it a shot.”
The shop carries about 40 cheese varieties, along with five varieties of Olli Salames, classic Italian salames that go well with any cheese. Aiming to stay true to the localvore movement, the Roses source many of their cheeses from Maine, in particular, Hahn's End in Phippsburg, Lakin's Gorges Cheese in Rockport, Turner Farm Creamery in North Haven, and Gardenside Dairy in Jonesboro. Offering enough variety to please every cheese freak, (and yet allowing newbies to fully appreciate the many flavor profiles) Eat More Cheese offers different samples every day that takes the taster on a journey from soft-ripened goat milk cheeses to hard, flaky, nutty parmesan-style cheeses to gooey rind cheeses (think brie).
Several bite-sized samples are placed strategically around the shop, allowing for some unhurried discoveries. While the Roses take cheese seriously, some of the names of cheese they carry show their sense of humor, like Ewephoria, a Dutch gouda-style cheese or the sign they painted on the wall, “Keep Calm and Eat Cheese” ( a cheeky reference to the UK propaganda posters produced in 1939).
Rose said her favorite cheese of late is a Beemster XO, an extra-aged gouda from the Netherlands with a burnt caramel flavor, crumbly texture and creamy mouthfeel. She said she’d pair that either with a Malbec or an oatmeal brew, which it just so happens they also carry in the shop.
In fact, one whole wall of the shop is dedicated to red and white wines and craft beers. It was a surprising discovery to find every single bottle on the wall came with a little tag recommending the best cheese to pair it with. Currently they only carry a retail liquor license, "but we’re working on getting a license that would let us serve on premises,” said Natalia. It would be easy to see this shop turn out some epic wine and cheese parties in the future.
Something worth noting before the month runs out is that The American Cheese Society is promoting a national “passport” that costs $10 throughout October and gives the bearer a deep discount on varying cheeses for each day. For example, on the day of this interview, the Big Ed’s cheese made from raw cow’s milk was 40 percent off. Big Ed's is a farm style Gouda cheese with smooth, dense texture and milky, brown-buttery flavors.
Earlier this month, they hosted an apple and cheese tasting event with John Bunker of Out on a Limb CSA & Fedco Trees. They’re currently open seven days a week and plan to stay open year-round. “We have a ton of ideas to do more public events but will probably wait until the wintertime,” said Natalia. “In between that, we’ll do private cheese parties for people who want to try several courses of cheese.”
Eat More Cheese can be found on Facebook page for daily specials and varieties.Check out their
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com