Sharp or creamy, blue or brie, sheep's milk or cow's or goat's -- I'm hard-pressed to find a cheese I don't like (though as my sometimes-empty wallet can attest, some I like much better than others). There's something especially tantalizingly about buying cheese at an off-the-beaten track fromagerie, where the proprietor takes particular care sourcing the cheeses, and has a long list of suggestions and samples for you to try.
Until recently, though, I've mostly had to do my cheese shopping at some of the Fort Worth gourmet grocery stores and shops, like Central Market or Oliver's Fine Foods -- not that I'm complaining, but those places lacks that intimate personal touch that you can find at a specialty artisan shop. Needless to say, then, I was very excited when Magnolia Cheese Company opened its doors earlier last December on bustling Magnolia Avenue.
Who needs to jet off to Paris or Brussels when you have a charming little neighborhood spot like this one in the Near Southside and cheeses so good that you'll have an impossible time picking just one or two to take home?
Magnolia Cheese Company actually doubles as a cafe, where you can order from the blackboard menu such sandwich options as the Gouda and Pork (which features gouda cheese, proscuitto, smoked bacon, sweet chili saw and pickled red onion) and the Fraiche Fish (which features horseradish creme fraiche, house-cured salmon lox and avocado), as well as salads, soups and a regularly changing line-up of daily specials. If you're looking to sample some of the shops cheeses, you can also opt for a five-cheese tasting plank ($16).
On our recent visits, though, we were searching for a couple cheeses that we might take home and enjoy before dinner. After sampling a couple of different blue cheeses, we settled on the Point Reyes blue, made in California, an exceptionally creamy cheese that also has a nice tangy bite to it ($10/ per half pound); and since you can't just stop at one, we also purchased a wedge of the Alta Langa Cravanzina, a soft-ripened cheese from the Piedmont region of Italy, made from a mixture of sheep's and cow's milk. It has a soft rind, a creamy center, and a lingering hint of earthiness ($15.45 per half-pound).
Magnolia Cheese Company also has a nice selection of wines -- you get a $15 discount on bottles if you're purchasing to take away. We opted for an Italian red, which paired nicely with both cheeses – so nicely, in fact, that when we got home, we skipped dinner altogether and just gobbled up our cheeses. Here's hoping this is just the start of a cheese shop boom in Fort Worth.
Magnolia Cheese Company is open: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday
Top Left Photo: Sample Catering Platter from Magnolia Cheese Co.