BEST CHEESE SELECTION Minneapolis 2004 - whole foods market
The cheeses include goat's, sheep's, and cow's milk, and you can find both artisanal and conventional types. But what distinguishes the Whole Foods selection from the rest of the pack is its ability to seduce a rather bland palate with funky choices. Adventuresome contestants need apply. (Advice: Don't settle for the cheese samples found in various locations throughout the store, have the cheese staff give you a sample of whatever your heart desires.) There's rhyme and reason as to how the cheese is displayed: Typically the blues are lumped together, then the soft-rinds and the washed rinds. Also vaguely by country: England, Spain, Italy, and America are represented here. (France doesn't claim an exclusive spot but is represented in each and every cheese type.) And the selection gets even more heady from there. For starters, look into Colston Basset Stilton (English); Dolce Latte Gorgonzola (Italian); Papillon or Société Roquefort (French); or the Roaring 40s, a Tasmanian blue. Or try the French Bûcheron, and the American Cypress Grove Purple Haze, accented by lavender and fennel. The Aged Gruyère Reserve and a Gouda aged two and a half to four years are both good hard cheeses; as for soft, Camembert and Epoisses are nice choices. And on and on. Finally, it all comes down to the cheese staffers, all of whom seem to enjoy what they're doing. And they do it conscientiously, taking input as well as giving it, and offering honest and insightful opinions.