Address: 217 Haverford Ave., Narberth, PA 19072
Rating: (out of 5 stars): ★★★★
Style: Gourmet food and cheese shop
Food: Numerous imported and hard to find delicacies in addition to artisanal cheeses, meats and breads.
Atmosphere: Intimate market
Parking: Metered street parking
Service: Friendly and accommodating
Price Range: Items come in all prices
Unique Feature: This place also has gourmet coffee beans, newspapers and freshly baked bread.
Famed culinarian and food writer Jean Brillat-Savarin is alleged to have said that “a meal without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.” It was with this in mind that I headed to in the heart of Narberth.
The main drag of the borough has offerings that can compete with the most cosmopolitan of cities. The Cheese Company has been one of my favorite places to visit for a while. The recent renovations have doubled the size of the space, allowing for an even better selection from which to choose.
Now, in a down economy it may seem counterintuitive to visit a gourmet shop, but I beg to differ. It is far less expensive to prepare meals at home than to go out to eat. Those looking for restaurant quality meals can pick up some supplies at The Cheese Company and reproduce 3 star cuisine in their very own kitchen.
The famed restaurant Rao’s in New York is so hard to get into that limousines filled with VIPs regularly get turned away because there are no available seats. Their legendary sauces are now available to the general public. I picked up a jar of marinara sauce to pair with the homemade Severino spinach tortellini. This local pasta company offers up well made products with the freshest and highest quality ingredients at fair prices. The marinara sauce is consistently good and bursting with tomato flavor. Unlike supermarket brands, Rao’s sauce never tastes like it has sugar added to it.
I’m a sucker for pate and cheese so had to limit myself to the black truffle mousse, cheddar and Roaring Forties blue cheeses with a package of Bremner Wafers. While there are numerous crackers on the market, Bremner's are delightfully crisp, light and slightly savory wafers that pair well with everything. The black truffle mousse was rich, creamy and had a mild funk to it. This would be an ideal beginner varietal meat item as the flavors aren’t too liver-y. Theses flavors, and the texture of the mousse, increased dramatically when allowed to temper a bit.
The cheddar cheese was superior quality and had a nutty flavor to it. It was enjoyable on its own although it would make a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich. The Roaring Forties blue was spectacular. This intense blue is not for the faint of heart. For the purposes of full disclosure I will tell you exactly where blue cheese comes from. In the olden days cheesemakers would crush up moldy French bread and add it to the cheese curds to promote the growth of mold in the cheese. These days it’s become a much more sophisticated enterprise, but its basic facts remain the same. The blue veins, slightly tangy flavors and discoloration come from bona fide mold. Milder blue cheeses are not quite as sharp. Roaring Forties blue is for blue cheese lovers, not for little kids.
As the cooler weather approaches, my thoughts turn to mushrooms and truffle oil. One of the greatest things I have ever eaten is a forest mushroom pizza with goat cheese and truffle oil. While this pizza is not readily available, you can buy a ready made pizza crust and top it with chunks of goat cheese, sautéed mushrooms and some chopped parsley and garlic. Bake until the cheese is melted and then drizzle some truffle oil (a little goes a long way!) on top to finish. Your family will not believe that you made it yourself.
The staff is always friendly and helpful. They are knowledgeable and offer great advice. I had a ball at The Cheese Company but the meter outside dictated that I could only spend 25 minutes in the shop. Good thing too—my wallet is the happier for it!