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Cheese Worth Splurging on According to Cheesemongers


Mary Sullivan Gonsalves, co-owner 21 Main Street Hingham, MA

Mary Sullivan Gonsalves and her partner, chef Bailey Gonsalves, opened Bloomy Rind in 2010 in downtown Hingham, Massachusetts, where the couple has lived for more than two decades. “Chef and I dreamed of opening a restaurant for years,” says Gonsalves. “But we realized we might get more out of having a little place where you can buy a great sandwich, find something to take home for dinner, and get some really good cheese.” Their dream came to fruition, and the shop has become a beloved fixture in the South Shore commmunity.

1. What is your best-selling item right now?

It changes constantly. But right now, I’d have to say Pitchfork Cheddar [from Trethowan’s Dairy in the UK]. It’s beautiful. It’s aged 12 months, it’s nutty, meltable, sweet, and interesting. Every time I give a bite to somebody, I sell it. Sometimes I’ll aks, “Who’s the Mick Jagger in the store?” And I feel like right now the Mick Jagger in the store is that Pitchfork Cheddar.

2. What do you think is “hot” right now?

When COVID happened, nobody was hosting parties of 20 anymore, they were doing smaller, more intimate gatherings. And one of the things that became hot for us was our petite cheese slate, which is for one or two people. Everything online is blown up with big, over- the-top boards. That’s great, but you’ve got to have a party for that. Something smaller, tailored, and paired well is what we’ve found success with.

3. What is the most common question customers ask you?

“Can I eat the rind?” is the obvious answer, but my favorite question is, “Mary, will you help me? I don’t know what kind of cheese I like.” The cheese case can be intimidating at times. We’re a very customer service–oriented shop, so we work together to figure out what they like.

4. Which cheese is worth a splurge? What do you skimp on?

My splurge is Moliterno A Tartufo. I really believe this cheese should be put into a bottle and sold as a perfume. It’s so good, but it’s not inexpensive. Every once in a while, I’ll be out somewhere with a really fabulous burger and they’ll offer American cheese. And I’ll go, “hell yeah, I’ll take some of that.” I grew up with Kraft singles—it’s a food memory and I have a relationship with it.


Kara McGrath, owner 904 H St NE Washington, DC

Paste and Rind was originally conceived during the pandemic as a monthly cheese club and e-commerce platform. As demand grew, owner Kara McGrath began dreaming of the next phase of the business, which has become a hybrid retail cheese shop with a cut-to-order cheese case, tasting bar, event space, and catering kitchen. “We kept expanding our offerings and hit a point this summer where we were like, okay, we need more room. How do we want to do it?” McGrath decided it was time to go brick-and-mortar and opened the doors to Paste and Rind Cheese Company in February 2023.

1. What is your best-selling item right now?

Both our best seller and one that is really getting people excited about craft cheese is Wild Rosemary from Goat Rodeo Farm and Dairy outside of Pittsburgh. A lot of people are familiar with Spanish style and Manchego, and this cheese kind of looks like that. But because it’s a goat and cow’s milk blend, it’s a little bit creamier. It’s got a little bit of a tang from the goat’s milk.

2. What do you think is “hot” right now?

I think that simplified, curated cheese boards are hot right now. Cheese and charcuterie boards with nine types of cheese and all these filler accompaniments look beautiful and are photogenic, but I think conscientious cheese consumers are looking for intentionality and elevation in pairings. That’s why we want people to come to real cheese shops, so we can help them learn about pairings.

3. What is the most common question customers ask you?

The most common question I get is, “How did you get into cheese?” DC is a city with a lot of professional industries, and there aren’t a ton of cheese shops around, so I think a lot of my customers are kind of bewildered that this is a career option.

4. What cheese is worth a splurge? What do you skimp on?

Splurge: I go for a good, high-quality, fresh chèvres. A lot of people don’t know that there are excellent chèvres from quality producers out there—like Goat Rodeo, Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery, or Old Chatham Creamery. There’s better chèvre out there and it makes a huge difference.

Skimp: I’m definitely not above a shredded cheese pack from the grocery store. I will use one quality cheese that I want to be the dominant flavor, like Le Gruyere AOP, and I’ll combine it with a three-cheese blend from Trader Joe’s.


Ashley Grant, owner 2160 Holmgren Way Green Bay, WI

During the pandemic, stay-at-home mom Ashley Grant started an online charcuterie board business to serve her local community. When the only cheese shop in town closed, she decided to open a retail location inside the Revolution Public Market. Bountiful Boards specializes in pre-ordered charcuterie boards and carries cheese and charcuterie from all over the world, with an emphasis on Wisconsin-made products. Ashley may be new to the cheese industry, but she has jumped in with both feet and takes great pride in being Green Bay’s only cheese shop—so much so that she recently trademarked the phrase, “We are Green Bay’s Cheese Shop.”

1. What is your best-selling item right now?

We sell a locally made mozzarella string cheese that we bring in fresh every Wednesday, and people are going absolutely crazy for it. Everyone in the area carries cheese curds, and I wanted to bring in something fresh that was a little bit different that people hadn’t tried.

2. What do you think is “hot” right now?

Right now, I think the hottest thing is cheese that has a cool story and background. One of the biggest positive shifts since COVID is that people want to support local again. Artisan, hand-crafted cheese is having its moment right now.

3. What is the most common question customers ask you?

The most common question is, “What’s your favorite cheese in the shop?” which tends to vary by the day, as can probably be said for most cheesemongers. But I love asking customers, “Do you want to hear a little nerdy cheese stuff about how that’s made?” And then I get to go into the story behind a cheese and blow their mind about something like a mimolette.

4. What cheese is worth a splurge? What do you skimp on?

I’m lucky to be in Wisconsin because we can get a lot of really beautiful, local cheese for an affordable price. We carry a four-year aged cheddar that’s super inexpensive because it’s made right down the road, so we’re definitely spoiled. But if I’m going to spend money it’ll be on a European import like Parmigiano Reggiano, or a raclette when I really want the cheese to be the star.

Josie Krogh

Josie Krogh is culture's Digital Strategy Lead. She earned her master's degree in Agricultural and Applied Economics from The University of Georgia. Josie developed a love of food while working at farmstands in the D.C. area as a young adult, and discovered her love of cheese while living and working on a dairy farm on Martha's Vineyard. She is passionate about the food supply chain, fresh stone fruit, and dogs. Josie currently lives in Catskill, NY.

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