If you've ever wanted to take a class on cheese or attend a tasting course, follow your instincts and just go for it. It all comes down to finding not only the right class, but the right kind of people. What kind of people are you looking for to guide you down your new cheese journey? People who, like, really love cheese.
Local cheese shops are tucked away in small towns all over the country and are often well-kept secrets among locals who pride themselves on finding the best goat cheese or feta cheese in town. A cheese shop should be fun and accessible because that's what cheese is.
However, somewhere along the way, cheese shops became synonymous with the snobby and ultra-trendy.
While no one can quite pinpoint where this reputation came from, it is so far from the truth when you find a shop like Antonelli's Cheese Shop here in Austin, Texas.
Update: Winner is @Magan.miller and her friends are going. Congrats. Thanks everyone. GIVEAWAY! Time sensitive! We've got two VIP tickets ($300 value) to a Pork Extravaganza called @cochon555 TODAY from 3-6 at the Four Seasons downtown Austin. If you're free to go and want them, comment here and tag a friend. I'll draw a name at 1:30pm. http://cochon555.com/2016-tour/austin-bbq/
Running a cheese shop is always a labor of, sometimes smelly, love. There is so much more to the world of cheese than a block of Parmesan or Kraft singles, though those have their place, too. What Antonelli's does best, however, is sourcing -- one of the most admirable traits of cheesemongers.
Antonelli's is run by John and Kendall Antonelli, and began with one idea: to "do something with cheese." That something has grown to include a roster of both international cheeses, and those specially sourced from the heart of Texas.
Thank you to the regulars and the new folks who joined John and me (Kendall) tonight for our anniversary cheese class "Our Journey Through Cheese" (with Journey and Bon Jovi playing). Seven years ago tonight, we sat stamping bags, making product cards, last minute pricing, and the like in rushed and excited anticipation of our shop's opening on 2/11/10. Thank you for these amazing 7 years!! #happybirthday #freecheeseweek #lucky7
Antonelli's excels at finding artisanal products from genuine artisans, those who put nose to grindstone every day to create something genuinely delicious. Making cheese is not easy, it's more of a passion project than anything, and Antonelli's works hard to honor those local cheesemakers by carrying and praising their product at every turn.
So why support your local cheese shop or cheesemakers? Because when you buy local, you're supporting those artisans who are damn good at their trade.
Antonelli's echoes that feeling with its mission, Do Good. Eat Good.
"When you support us, you're supporting artisans who manage their lands sustainably, care for their herds humanely, source raw materials ethically, and lead their businesses and teams to do better."
The shop, in all of its specialized labor-of-love glory, is making a positive impact on the local Austin agriculture scene as they are part of the Good Food Retailers Collaborative, which stipulates all retailer members must sell good food, own at least 51 percent of the business, and commit to three years in helping build the Good Food Collaborative.
So the next time you're in Austin, stop by Antonelli's and say hello. The staff is warm and kind, and ready to cut the cheese. Or if you're ready to learn as much as you can about cheese, attend their Cheese 101 Class.
And if you're not in Austin, seek out your local cheesemonger or dairy farm. Support from the source, and feel good about doing it, while also eating delicious goat cheese with a blueberry lemon jam. More on that soon!