Everything Cheese

Kathryn Joel Favourites

Everything Cheese is what it’s name says: everything cheese …. and more! An epicurean oasis tucked away in Riverbend, Everything Cheese is every cheese lover’s dream.

Proprietors Lydia Charalambakis and Tania Hrebicek opened their doors on October 29th, 2010, just a year after their initial decision to venture into the world of cheese. Friends since their University days in Toronto, Tania moved to Edmonton six years ago, and it was during a visit from Lydia in September 2009 that the two friends formulated the idea for a gourmet cheese shop in Edmonton’s Riverbend. Just two months later they’d incorporated the name, and Tania was on the hunt for premises to house their dream!

Both Lydia and Tania had worked in the financial industry before starting Everything Cheese. So as part of their planning process they attended an intensive course at The San Francisco Cheese School, where they learned “how to procure, sell, care for and serve premium cheese”. And they started attending cheese conferences, like the American Cheese Society Conference that took place in Seattle in August 2010.

And from the outset they knew that they wanted to offer their customers more than just cheese. So in June 2010 they headed to New York for inspiration at The Fancy Food Show, looking for foodie gems to stock their shelves. And stocked they are, with premium pastas, pulses, oils, vinegars and more. I quickly snapped up some hard-to-find specialty vinegars, and was thrilled to see brands like Seggiano, Rustichella d’Abruzzo and Belazu that I’m familiar with from food shops in the UK.

My own passion for cheese is so great that last year I attended not one, but two, intensive courses on making cheese! I went to Texas, then to Vermont, to make some extraordinary raw and pasteurized cheeses under the tutelage of the wonderful and inspirational Larry and Linda Faillace of Three Shepherd Cheese. So when it comes to artisanal cheese I have to admit to being a fan from the start: I’ve been seeking out and enjoying handcrafted cheeses since I was in my teens.

And my absolute favourite meal is a simple one, of warm, crusty French bread, good wine and great cheese! So I was quick to attend a recent event at Vines, Riverbend Wine Merchants, matching a selection of Vines’ wines to a selection of Everything Cheese’s delicious cheese. Of six inspired matches, the pairing of a 2007 Sette Ponti Crognolo Sangiovese, Merlot from Tuscany, with Testun al Barolo-Piemonte cheese, was a heavenly match, bringing out the best in both: and a perfect example of the flavour transformation that can take place when you match great cheese with great wine!

The motto at Everything Cheese is authentic, inspired, delicious. And authenticity is what Lydia and Tania are looking for when they make their cheese selections. So at Everything Cheese you’ll find a wide selection of denomination-controlled cheeses, all staying true to the original recipes and following the traditional methods in their production. And you’ll find hand-crafted and farmstead cheeses that ooze with pungent aromas and flavours too. Plus Lydia and Tania are continuing to bring in new cheeses for you to try: just this week they’re stocking both Italian Mozzarella di Bufala and Quebec’s Fromagerie Perron cheese curds, both for the first time.

A big draw for me personally is that their British Isles cheeses are imported through Neal’s Yard Dairy, an old favourite of mine. I’ve been a fan of Neal’s Yard since the early 1980’s, when I used to visit their first London shop in Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden: it was a tiny space, crammed floor to ceiling with cheese, and all of it produced in Britain and Ireland. Neal’s Yard’s support was responsible for an explosion in demand for handcrafted Britsh and Irish cheese. And Everything Cheese is stocking some real stars, like Kirkham’s Lancashire, Appleby’s Double Gloucester and Ireland’s Ardrahan, Cashel Blue and Gubbeen. If you’d like to try some, why not attend the Royal Wedding – British Isles Cheeses tasting on April 26th: tickets are $40 per person and include wine pairings with Vines.

But the British and Irish cheeses are just the tip of the iceberg. I could live on the unctuous classic French Brie de Meaux alone, and it’s there …. along with Brillat-Savarin, Epoisses, Morbier, Comte ….  not to mention a fantastic selection of amazing artisanal cheeses from Italy, Spain and beyond.

And what about our own Canadian artisanal cheeses you say? Our homegrown cheesemakers are following traditional methods to produce a wide array of artisanal cheeses that are every bit as good as their Old World cousins. From Ontario, Quebec and BC to Alberta’s own award-winning Sylvan Star Cheese, the Canadian options are vast. Go visit Everything Cheese and let Lydia and Tania’s expertise be your guide!