It’s tough to imagine a better setting for a cheese shop than Vermont’s Mad River Valley. Wedged into the tiny ski town of Waitsfield and surrounded by national forest land, Mad River Taste Place sits beneath hills dotted with grazing cows, idyllic barns, and artisanal producers.
Proximity is a fundamental philosophy for the Taste Place, which was opened by Robin Morris in July 2017. Morris also owns the Mad River Food Hub, a food business incubator and USDA inspected curing facility nearby. “That’s how it all got started,” explains manager and head cheesemonger Mary Tuthill. “Producers at the Food Hub were the first with products in the retail shop.” The space is centered around an all-Vermont selection of beers, ciders, spirits, and 80 to 90 cheeses, many from the Mad River Valley. The idea is to offer visitors a full experience that includes not just shopping but education, chatting with knowledgeable staff, and cozying up next to a fireplace with draft beer and a cheese plate: the perfect finish to a day of skiing or hiking through the Green Mountains.
culture: What are some great Vermont cheeses that are hard to find out of state?
Mary Tuthill: We often start with von Trapp Farmstead cheeses, because they’re made here in Waitsfield. With the exception of Oma, which they do with the Cellars at Jasper Hill, the rest are tricky to find outside Vermont. Another favorite is Lazy Lady Farm—a solar wind farm, off the grid, mostly goat cheeses. Laini Fondilier’s cheese is absolutely amazing; she’s always doing something super creative.
culture: How do you create a curated experience for visitors?
MT: We have videos playing of cheesemakers and producers throughout the state. All of our signs have information about products and who made them, how far away they are. Customers can come in and get a feel of how close and local everything is in Vermont.
culture: What’s your go-to Vermont beer-and-cheese pairing?
MT: One of my all-time favorites is Lawson’s Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine IPA with Jasper Hill Farm’s Bayley Hazen Blue cheese. It’s always a winner.
89 Mad River Green
Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Sun. 9 a.m.–3 p.m.