One of Kate Zaidan’s favorite aspects of owning Dean’s Mediterranean Imports is building on her family’s cultural legacy. Her father, the founder, was a Lebanese immigrant fleeing a civil war in the ’70s when he opened a small fruit and nut shop; he didn’t expect it to grow into what it is today: a 1,200-square-foot hub of Mediterranean treasures. “When you walk into our shop, the first thing people notice is the delicious smell,” Zaidan says. “I love helping customers work through their recipes and find their new favorite ingredients.”
Some of the most popular products come from the dairy department, which stocks everything from Indian paneer and Cypriot Halloumi to Greek Manouri and Bulgarian feta. “We define ‘Mediterranean’ very broadly, and I enjoy sourcing international cheeses,” she says. “I really work to make sure our customers understand why origin matters.”
Cheese figures prominently on the menu for Dean’s kitchen, too. Can’t-miss options include fig and goat cheese or herb and labneh flatbreads, and fries topped with olive oil, za’atar, Bulgarian feta, and harissa ketchup.
108 W Elder St, Cincinnati, OH 45202 | 513.241.8222 | mediterranean-imports.com
NEW YORK CITY, NY
This NYC hotspot for all things fromage is more than just a place to stop nd grab a wedge of brie. It’s a full-on experience, with events showcasing art, design, and food education for anyone from chefs and cheesemakers to artists and foodies. “The universe of French cheese is vast,” says director Charles Duque. “France has over 1,200 cheeses, each one with a unique history and terroir that comes with hundreds of years of savoir-faire. This gives us ample material to communicate the quality and uses of French cheese to an American audience.”
Visitors can enjoy browsing the ultra-curated and ever-changing selection of French cheeses available in the retail space, sign up for one of the many (newly reopened) classes, and engage with staff to immerse yourself in the culture. “Customer service is very important to us,” Duque says, “How to enjoy the cheeses, how to best cut them depending on their shapes, what accompaniments to use, and a lot of inspiration go a long way in what we convey.”
Around the holidays, customers can expect to see unique, hard-to-find cheeses on the shelves. You can also snag a weekly platter, which varies every week, to bring that little extra je ne sais quoi to your next gathering.
41 Spring St, New York, NY 10012| 212.302.3390 | frenchcheeseboard.com
Steve Quattrucci describes himself as a “serial entrepreneur,” coming from a line of family members who started grocery chains and restaurants in the Portland area. Quattrucci was a chef, restaurant owner, and retail store owner before finally opening Monte’s Fine Foods in 2019. “I really like being out front, chatting with folks in the community and getting to know local vendors that we buy from,” Quattrucci says. “We have a wonderful cheesemaking community here in Maine.”
Monte’s is packed with all the ingredients you could ever need to build the ultimate antipasto dish or a big Italian meal—from cured meats and homemade ciabatta to fresh produce and mostardas. And of course cheese, both imported, and local (think Lakin’s Gorges Cheese and Spring Day Creamery). But the most popular attraction might be the homemade pizzas, with dough made on site and even some options with house-made parmesan- and ricotta-style vegan cheese.
If you’re in the area, stopping by Monte’s on the way to a holiday party is a no-brainer. “People are always looking for recommendations, says Quatrucci. “They’ll come in and say: ‘I’ve got 20 people. This is my budget. What can you do?’ And we try to give them a nice variety.”