Liquor store offers cheese with that wine
Jerry Sica of Crossroads Wine and Spirits loves noshing so much that he was driving to the Front Range several times a month just to buy artisan cheese.
“There’s just nothing you can buy around here that has any quality to it,” Sica said while gesturing to his new refrigerated cheese case adjacent to the popular liquor store at 611 24 Road. The case is fully stocked with quality artisan cheeses such as MovCo, Upland Cheese Company and Bijou, Vermont.
He offered a sample of a cheese called Pleasant Ridge with a creamy yet nutty flavor. Sica said it was one of the most popular domestic cheeses available on the market. He heard the French were importing the cheese to quality shops in Paris.
“With a good cheese, you taste the fat and the flavor just explodes in your mouth,” he said.
It used to be the best cheeses were imported from Europe but the number of quality domestic cheeses has greatly increased in the past decade. Sica pointed to the Rouge et Noir in the case, explaining that the cheese was named the world champion brie in the triple cream category and was made by Marin French Cheese Company in Petaluma, Calif.
Some of the best known cheeses are being produced right in Colorado and eastern Utah. The MouCo Cheese Company is in Fort Collins and produces soft ripened rounds such as the bloomy white Camembert, the ColoRouge.
Sica pulled another slice from the cooler, showing the black granules pressed into the outside round. This particular slice, he explained, used local Grand Junction Legacy Coffee grounds. The cheese is called Barely Buzzed Cheddar and is made by the Bee Hive Cheese Company in Uintah, Utah. It has been the winner of the Flavored Cheddar Cheese Society’s annual competition for the past three years.
“We’re making cheese in this country using the most traditional methods but with their own tastes and characteristics,” Sica explained of the growing cheese industry.
The taste of cheese and wine is similar, Sica said, in that the flavor is based on the terroir, or earth from which it comes from. The altitude, humidity, temperature and climate not only effect the taste of wine but also cheese. Cheese should be sampled just like wine, with the nose and the palate.
Employees in the store turn the cheese daily, paying close attention to the aging process, so that customers are assured the highest quality possible with their purchase. “We treat cheese right here,” Sica said while explaining that cheese is live organism.
“It’s insane to be drinking the same bottle of wine or cheese when there’s so much out there to taste,” Sica said.
In addition to cheese, the new shop offers a variety of other fancy foods including aged balsamic vinegars, imported olive oil, salami, Tuscan soups, and fresh baguettes.
Sica pointed to one of the most popular items in the store, the bacon-chocolate. That’s right—two of the most comforting flavors melded into one smooth bar by Vosges Haut-Chocolat company. “Vosges and I have been friends for a long time,” Sica laughed. “These guys are red hot!”
Sica said the more local support he has for the cheese shop, the more exotic food items he plans to stock on the shelves.
The employees at Crossroads Wine and Spirits can help pair beer or wine with cheese purchases. They also make complete gift baskets with advance notice. “We need people to come in and visit because they’ll like what they see,” Sica said.