BEST CHEESE SELECTION - 2001
To our vast surprise, we just learned that Surdyk's doesn't have just the 300 cheeses displayed in its jam-packed cheese case. Honest to goodness, there are another 40 or so behind the scenes. They're nothing special, just the unspectacular Neufchâtels and low-glamour, low-fat Swisses that cheese-shop manager Sally Witham doesn't want obscuring her real treasures. But please note, Witham is hiding more cheeses than most cheese shops ever dream of showing! Truly, Witham is such a sweetie we wouldn't even mind if she hid some of the good stuff. Every time we come into the shop there she is, cap on head, knife in hand, offering all who arrive slices of this fun new sheep's-milk Basque blue, that Sally Jackson goat's-milk button. No one is as enthusiastic about cheese as Witham, bringing in a speaker from Neal's Yard to simply stand around the case and chat with customers, taking gambles on interesting cheeses she reads about in magazines or online, like the cow/goat/sheep's-milk paprika-rubbed cheese known as Toledo. She rises to every cheese-tray challenge presented by customers: Need ten cheeses to go with Sauternes? No problem. Want five for Scotch? Can do. Want to lead a tasting on the new American blues? Surdyk's has five, on the wheel, and they cut it to order so it's fresh. Witham says Surdyk's plans to expand the cheese shop, pending the usual zoning and construction challenges, as soon as possible. What then? Will they be hiding 50 and displaying 500? We can only dream.