Set within France 44, a Minneapolis wine and spirits shop that’s been operating since 1959, this cheese counter launched a decade ago when manager Benjamin Roberts moved to town from Brooklyn, N.Y., where he ran a farm-to-table restaurant. Partnering with the well-established store, Roberts created a new area devoted to cheese, whole-animal butchery, and sandwiches.
Shortly after, the shop opened a second location in Saint Paul, broadening local access to the team’s products and classes. “Our aim is to delight our customers and have them feeling better about life after they’ve interacted with us,” Roberts says. To that end, the cheese counter—curated by Katie Renner, France 44’s cheese buyer for the past 6 years—is shaped to reflect prime examples of each style. “We’re not trying to crush you with variety—we want to send our customers home with a delicious piece of well-cared-for cheese,” says Roberts.
culture: What’s the first thing you recommend to cheese newbies?
Benjamin Roberts: New customers—and many repeats—are reminded to always serve their cheese at room temperature.
culture: What’s your best cheese recommendation for a romantic night?
BR: Perfectly ripe brie on a warm baguette with a schmear of honey—though this is best for folks that know each other and want to be gooey and sticky; it’s probably not a great idea for a first date.
culture: If you had to take one cheese pairing to a deserted island, what would it be?
BR: Cheshire and sweet onion jam.
4351 France Ave. S.
Mon.–Sat. 9 a.m.–9 p.m.
Sun. 11 a.m.–6 p.m.