Friday, June 27, 2014

The Cheese Stands Alone (Well, It Stands with the Meat): St. James Cheese Company

Oh, St. James Cheese Company, why did I wait so long to present my tastebuds as a petitioner at your door?

It is not because I doubted your ability to assemble a plate of meats and cheeses that would please me beyond earthly virtue or vice. Not at all. Rather, it must be that I feared how right you would be.

Charcuterie is one of my most exquisite temptations, and this city is a mistress of providing opportunities to exploit it, as it does all my others. Before, I had been able to resist this particular one—though barely by the skin of my teeth. Literally. But the St. James Cheese Company had come highly recommended, it was in my neighborhood and I had a coupon and a beautiful day. The Fates had spoken, and so be it.

The shop is located on a hip little stretch of Prytania, albeit with little foot traffic. It features a nice little shared, shaded patio as well as a few tables out front with a street view. The inside also receives a nice share of sunlight from the front window-wall, but, per usual, I was already too busy ogling the goods on display to really appreciate any spatial aesthetics as that point.

I didn’t drool too closely, though, because buying as many large chunks of cheese and cured meats as I could carry was not my mission that day. Nor was the offering of lovely-sounding sandwiches and salads displayed on their menu board. No, I was there to order four meats and three cheeses on a plate, if you please. And a glass of the rosé. (Because of the weather, of course, I said.)

Service was super friendly, even with a bit of a line, and I learned that they supply cheese to the tasty City Pork Deli in Baton Rouge.  Cheers!

My friend and I took a seat outside in the afternoon sunlight, and, as promised, we received our bounty presented on a slab of slate.


The nice man did try to explain to us what all the offerings were, and I did try very hard to listen and comprehend, but it was mostly drowned out by the cheesily (yes) angelic choir chords filtering through my head.

Clearly it had been too long since I’d had charcuterie.

Anyway, the individual highlights for me that afternoon were the rustic, thick cut pepperoni-style slices of meat (bottom left, above the candied nuts) and, for the cheeses, the Stilton (last cheese in the column on the right). Guess I was having a robust day.

My favorite part, though, was when we were getting towards the ends of our selections and started mixing and matching pairings like bacchanalian scientists. The spicy mustard with which they provided us (top left) seemed to go well with everything, but I was pleasantly shocked when at the very end of the plate I added a dollop to the paté then swiped it through the sweet-tangy red jam. Success. And then I chased it with a grape.

Overall, the charcuterie plate commanded so much attention that I forgot I had a glass of wine at my hand, which is saying something.

The moderately high price point will probably relegate the St. James Cheese Company to a special treat rather than a part of my regular rounds, but it is definitely worth a try or three. 

St James Cheese Company on Urbanspoon

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