Tastemaker

Cheese, Please

A new gourmet shop in Westerly imports treats from all over the world

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There’s only one thing better than wine: wine and cheese together. So when Lisa Vuono, co-owner of Dick’s World of Wines, and Paula LaBarre, a manager at the store, started thinking about new projects, it was only natural they’d venture into gourmet cheese. The Cheese Corner, which opened at the beginning of the summer, is their new store, carrying delicious - but not at all pretentious - gourmet foods. We sat down to talk cheese plates and international surprises.

How do you teach people about foods they maybe haven’t tried before?
Our goal when opening The Cheese Corner was to give Westerly a cheese shop where education and customer service are a priority. We encourage our customers to ask questions about the cheeses and take a small taste of almost anything. They can keep track of the cheeses on note cards that are kept on file near the cash register, and on their next visit they can retrieve their card to see what they have purchased in the past. We try to locate hard-to-find
products for our customers to add to our inventory, and we can also recommend great wine pairings from next door.

Where do you find all your insanely delicious cheeses?
We use an International Food Distributor, we started with a base and have brought in cheeses that our customers have asked for. We also take part in an air pre-order program where we get specialty cheeses that have been flown in from Italy and France - but the surprise is that we never know what we’re going to get until we get it.

Walk us through your ideal cheese plate. What would be on it?
Lisa: Yum - where do we start? I love sheep and goat milk cheeses - some of my favorites are Billie’s Goat Cheddar, Bonne Bouche, and LaTur to name a few - and I like to add some fig spread, cranberry and orange crackers, and a great bottle of wine.
Paula: I like to use a variety of milks and textures, and cheeses with different colors as well. Add some pâté, olives, nuts, crackers, and a cluster of grapes, and you’re good to go!

You’ve also got a great local selection.
We do! From Rhode Island, we carry Dipollino’s Supri, and gifts from Kay Dee Designs and Vuono’s Handwoven Baskets. From Connecticut, we’ve got foods from StoneWall Apiary, Farm True Ghee, Melinda Mae Cheese, and Capizzano’s Olive Oils.

Besides cheese, what other delicious edibles will we find at the store that you can’t find elsewhere locally?
We have a great selection of artisan crackers, chocolates from Knipschildt Chocolatier in New York City, and bread from A&M Bronx Baking, along with a unique selection of jams, jellies, and chutneys to accompany your cheeses.

How much cheese do you eat every day? No judgement here.
Lisa: I have to admit that I probably eat three to four on most days. We try to bring new cheeses in weekly and being a newbie to owning a store I need to refresh my taste buds to remind myself what different cheeses taste like.
Paula: I have to stop myself from eating cheese all of the time - I try to limit myself to tasting the new cheeses when they come in - and treat myself to a cheese platter every once in a while.

The Cheese Corner
137 Main Street, Westerly • 315-0175