BEST CHEESE SELECTION - 2006
There is something reverent in the way Surdyk's staff offers slivers of cheese on squares of butcher paper, in their soft-spoken delight in describing a Gouda's four-year history, the buttery D'elice from near the Loire, a truffle-laced Sottoccenere from the Piedmont. No grab and go here; you stop, listen, and taste. Eureka! There is a hint of lavender in that chèvre from Wisconsin, that definitely is a mild bit of smoke in the Spanish San Simon. Serene, subtle, and efficient, Surdyk's was the first cheese purveyor in these parts to grasp the parallels between selling cheese and wine—the importance of place, process, and history—and of suggesting customers try it, and thus buy it. They'll suggest a Port for that Stilton, Merlot with the Montasio and, if wine isn't in your evening's plans, a Windmer four-year-old cheddar for a mac and cheese you can actually enjoy with your four-year-old niece. But don't stop with the cheese. The deli sells roasted chicken, homemade soups, pot roast, and fancy salamis and real Seranno ham, as well as breads, croissants, and muffins. Stop in for a wedge of brie and come home with pork and black mushroom pâté, oak-aged sherry wine vinegar, a sourdough boule, fancy pickles, imported pasta, and an oatmeal-raisin-chocolate-chip cookie to nibble as you head home to a world greatly enriched with dairy's noblest form.