Cheese. For the love of God, cheese. I hate it. Since an early childhood experience involving crisp, buttery biscuits with a hidden cheese surprise inside (à la Velveeta), I’ve been traumatized by the pungent, gooey ingredient.
In my paranoid days, I went so far as to imagine a cheese conspiracy. In this vision, cheese is the alpha predator, insinuating itself into every aspect of human life. We Homo sapiens think we rule the planet. Then answer me this? How did cheese get into our salads? I’ll tell you how: a carefully laid out plan to infest our vegetables with its horrible horribleness.
Mozzarella was an exception, mainly because I love pizza. I resolved this cognitive dissonance by imagining pizza as its own food group, the ingredients simply a part of its DNA. There is no cheese in this case, only pizza.
So imagine my horror when Jacey and Matt Sumner told me about their new shop opening up July 18. It’s called Six Forks Cheese. The horror.
The two already own one local business called Slate Plate. It’s basically just a plate made out of slate, black, used by many restaurants to showcase food items, like cheese.
And then about two years ago, they decided to branch out into cheese. It’s really Jacey’s business. She comes by her love for cheese naturally.
“I grew up in Wisconsin so cheese is pretty much in my blood,” she told me via e-mail. “Squeaky (c’mon all you Midwesterners!) or deep fried cheese curds are side items at every restaurant and it’s completely normal to eat cheese every day. On everything.”
A few years ago, a cheese-loving friend of hers shared some artisan cheeses with her, and Jacey was impressed with the flavors and how complex they could be.
“When I went to look for some of those same cheeses locally, I found only bits and pieces here and there at grocers and nothing was truly fresh,” she said. “Being in the cheese-board business, I knew that unlike many cities, Raleigh didn’t have an actual cheese shop, so I figured, well, why don’t we open one?”
It started two years ago online. The business grew, and eventually Jacey decided she needed a proper shop. It will be located on Falls of Neuse Road in Lafayette Village. I know that doesn’t make any sense. The name of the store is Six Forks Cheese. What gives?
It’s name originally came from two things: One, the Sumners live on Six Forks Road, and two, they wanted cheese to be a social event. Imagine having cheese with family. Imagine there are six of you. How many forks would it take to share that cheese? You guessed it: six.
The online business has more than 100 cheeses available. The shop will focus on American and European cheese, with a special section reserved for North Carolina offerings.
The two launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise awareness for the new store. So far, it’s brought in about $6,000, already surpassing its goal, and Matt says he expects to get up to about $9,000 by the time the campaign is over.
“It shows there’s a demand for cheese,” he said.
Being a cheese hater, I asked Matt what the attraction to cheese could possibly be.
“I said on the Kickstarter campaign, it’s kind of like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get,” he said.
He likens the variability, flavor and complexity of cheese to wine, and says that the same way there are wine aficionados, there are cheese aficionados.
“That’s why you hear wine and cheese, it’s not chance,” he said “It’s really about the pairing and really understanding what cheese goes with what.”
Now that we’re at the end of the column, I’ll be honest. In the past few years, I’ve actually branched out when it comes to cheese. My wife says I can no longer claim extreme cheese aversion. But I hold tight to my dysfunction because, even if I have softened on my stance, I still find cheese to be arrogant. That’s right, arrogant. I said it. Cheese thinks it’s better than everybody else, and I can’t stand it.
I can only hope that at this new shop, Matt and Jacey will make sure their cheese shows a little humility. I’m optimistic about their prospects. Find out for yourself at www.sixforkscheese.com.
Alex Granados writes about interesting people, places and traditions in North Raleigh and beyond. Contact him via email at email@example.com.