Comte

A Vegetarian's Guide to the Cheese Shop // Part II

vegetarian_guide_image_2 Meet Eliza, our cheese shops’ resident vegetarian! She’ll be showing you around the shop from an herbivore’s point of view. This is the first in a multi-part series.

This past month I turned 24, marking a decade-long abstinence from meat consumption. Eating vegetarian has become a deeply ingrained habit for me and when I started working at the France 44 Cheese Shop last September, I made it my job to carve a vegetable-shaped path through my experience.

Despite the presence of countless delicious (allegedly) meat-centric products, the France 44 and St. Paul Cheese Shops have a bounty of vegetarian options. Back in June, I shared a few tips to following an herbivore's lifestyle and here I am again to bestow some more knowledge upon you vegetable lovers. This time I’ll focus more on home cooking and the great products you can buy at our cheese shops to create delectable meals of your own.

1.Whole Milk Ricotta, the single best-kept secret of the Cheese Shop Our Ricotta comes from Calabro Cheese Corporation, in my beloved home state of Connecticut. This fluffy, luscious, smooth ricotta was originally distributed out of New Haven—home to the country’s best pizzeria and Mecca for delicious Italian fare—so you know it’s good. Though we don’t sell this cheese directly out of our case, we almost always have it, so please ask us to package some up for you!

Ricotta is versatile. You can bake it in lasagna, put it on pizza, eat it for breakfast on toast with honey, or have us smear it all over your favorite sandwich. Calabro ricotta is fresh and delicious and if you are anything like me, you will steal a bite whenever you can.

2. Pasta! So all this talk of Italian food has you hungry for pasta. Well you’re in luck because we sell pasta in every shape and size! Trust me, I have a new appreciation for our selection after having recently rearranged the shelves. We have a lot of pasta and it's all impeccably made. From buccatini to ringlets to shells, we’ve got it. And you can also always ask a monger if you need a recommendation. Pick up pasta with some delicious Scarpetta sauce or our house-made Smoked Paprika Parmesan and you are good to go. Mix in some grilled vegetables from our deli case for that extra wow factor.

3. Soup Though it’s only August, fall is right around the corner and that means soup. We offer a smattering of delicious vegetarian soups in the grab-and-go case. Here are some of my favorites:

Carrot Fennel: Oh man, it is simple and delicious and it’s so healthy it’s almost like you went for a run just by eating it. Shave some of our Cravero Parmigiano-Reggiano right on top and invite me over for dinner. And don’t forget to dip one of our freshly baked baguettes in that bowl of golden soup!

Gazpacho: I know I know, I’m getting hasty thinking about fall and not even savoring summer, the absolute best season of the year. Gazpacho is basically synonymous with summer soup so eat some chilled deliciousness on your next picnic at the beach.

Tomato Soup: Let the tomatoes speak for themselves! They are delicious and so is this soup, which truly highlights all the natural sweetness and deliciousness of everyone’s favorite summer vegetable.

4. Melts

In my last post, I told you all about the different vegetarian sandwiches you can order at the cheese shop. What I failed to mention is that every once and a while it’s important to switch it up. Regular sandwiches are great, but you know what can be even better? Melts. Offered exclusively at our St. Paul Cheese Shop, our savory Melts are decadent, oozy grilled cheese sandwiches that are oh so vegetarian-friendly! Unlike our cold sandwich menu, which skews to the meaty side of things, more than half of our St. Paul shop's Melts are meat free. Check out these mouth-watering options:

• Barber’s English Cheddar and house-made harrissa • Melodie Comté with caramelized onions and whole grain mustard • Calabro whole milk mozzarella with house-made tomato-garlic confit • Double cream brie with cranberry chutney

And the best part? Each Melt is served with a shot of the tomato soup I mentioned above. Perfect!

I’m happy to say, after working at the Cheese Shop for nearly a year, I am still discovering new vegetarian indulgences. Remember, you can always ask your cheese monger for vegetarian options or alternatives. Enjoy that meat-free lifestyle!

Meet The Chacarero

chacarero My first job out of college was working in an office tower in downtown Boston. As a carefree 22-year-old with a salaried job, I had zero concern for packing a lunch. Lunch was eaten on the streets of the Boston financial district and, more often than not, at a Chilean sandwich counter called Chacarero.

The original Chacarero was a window in the side of the old Filenes at downtown crossing in Boston. By noon the line would be 20 people deep. You paid in one line and then moved to the next line where you’d wait again until it was your turn to customize your sandwich exactly the way you wanted. The protein options were chicken, beef, or vegetarian and then you went down the line with your sandwich picking your various toppings.

It’s the green beans that make the Chacarero iconic. Blanched green beans on a sandwich? Kinda odd. Then there’s muenster cheese, tomato, cilantro-avocado spread, salt, pepper, and a secret spicy sauce. A small sandwich is enough to make you sleep, a large one means you don’t need to eat dinner.

The Chacarero (which interestingly translates to “farmer”) we serve at the St. Paul Meat Shop begins with brined and roasted pork shoulder. We knew we wanted roast pork on a sandwich and the Chacarero seemed like the perfect place to put it. The green beans are exactly the same as the original Chacarero, but for cheese we went with Comté (c’mon, we run a cheese shop after all) to bring a little sweet nuttiness to the sandwich. Instead of avocado we have a bright chimichurri, which brings the cilantro without getting in the way of the Comte’s creaminess.

Every time I eat one of our Chacareros, the flavors are just reminiscent enough to make me instantly homesick for that little sandwich window back in Boston. We’ll never be as good as my memories, but for sure I feel we’re paying a respectable tribute to the sandwich-slinging folks on the east coast.

--Benjamin Roberts, Manager-In-Chief

3 Ways To Get More Vitamin D

sunshine and pines Here's the funny thing about that happy-making nutrient called Vitamin D: It's both a vitamin and a hormone your body produces when exposed to sunlight. That's a pretty rad dual status to have, but it also means that when it's too snowy and cold to bike to work or sunbathe, humans must turn to eating their Vitamin D. Of course, few foods are rich in the stuff, which is why lots of breakfast cereals say "Fortified!" on the box. D's a slippery little vitamin to catch. And the negative effects of a Vitamin D deficiency on the heart, bone health, and more are being studied all the time (gory details here).

So how are adult people supposed to scrounge up the recommended 600 IU (International Units) of Vitamin D a day? A united front of several tactics is probably best, from making the effort to stroll outside for 10 minutes every few days to swallowing supplements. But let's talk about the edible tactics right now, because that's the most fun.

Happily, the foods that do naturally contain Vitamin D are the best foods. They're rich in fat and totally classy, giving you a great excuse to dab your mouth with linen napkins instead of paper towels for an evening. Check it out:

Oily Fishes Salmon, sardines, tuna, and herring (pickled herring)! These fatty fishes are the biggest D hitters around, sometimes wielding over 90 percent of the recommended daily dosage for adults. Grab a salmon filet at Coastal Seafoods, a tin of lovely Ortiz Spanish sardines harvested off the coast of Galicia, or some melty line-caught white tuna (you'll never go back to StarKist, promise) from our shop.

Japanese Food Because Japanese cuisine is the master at combining ultra-savory individual ingredients, three of which happen to be fat with Vitamin D: caviar, tofu, and mushrooms. Get your deficient butt to Kyatchi or Origami in Minneapolis and tuck into some salmon roe, deep-fried tofu, or a bowl of hot udon noodles with mushrooms. Maitake mushrooms alone will hand you 131 percent of your daily D, and those succulent beads of caviar will provide you with 20 percent. They also pop in your mouth like salty Gushers, so that's a bonus.

Cheese and Butter And of course, a Vitamin D deficiency is an excellent opportunity for a fondue of melty Alpine-style cheeses like Comté, Appenzeller, and Gruyère. Or, it's a reason to add a little extra Cravero Parmigiano-Reggiano and another pat of butter to morning eggs (also great for Vitamin D!). OR, an excuse to have all of your friends over for a giant, sprawling cheese tasting with lots of wine (which is apparently good for the heart) and mischief.

Happy Supplementing, buddies.