Paso Robles cheese, please
Oh bless that first human who stored their milk supply in a stomach bag somewhere out in the tundra (perhaps while they were hunting mammoths…hush…Jean M. Auel was a guilty pleasure from my youth) and then opened it only to find that first, glorious ancestor to that which we now call cheese.
Fast forward to today, to a small and friendly storefront that has a sandwich board out front that says only, “cheese shop”. No family name or fancy moniker (you’ll find it later on the cheese menu). Just cheese shop. And you walk in. And it smells like heaven – a bit like mushrooms, loamy and earthy, with a soft edge and twang that means, yes, you are in cheese’s domain. You are actually in Di Raimondo’s, and Jean, owner and resident cheese cutter, is handing you the first of what will be many samples. If you’re lucky, the first with be an aged cheddar that melts on your tongue.
I first went into Di Raimondo’s back in February of this year during that previously mentioned road trip that we took to break in my newish car. I was started off on the aged cheddar and then was taken down a lovely little road that led to a fresh stilton with mango and ginger. This time, I got to try an aged provolone. Yum.
I sat and gabbed with Jean a bit. We talked about the closing of Midlife, the general Paso Robles economy, how she tried to sell Di Raimondo’s at one time, and how after seven years hawking cheese, she’s still in love with it. The shop has evolved in the short time since I had been there last – the Italian market section in the back of the store was now relegated to a few shelves up front and her cheese board had been angled to better greet people coming in the door.
My one regret is not coming prepared to haul cheese. It was a hot day and a few hours in an unattended car would have ruined my stash. Bring a cooler and plenty of chill packs for the drive home.
Assuming the cheese actually makes it home.
Di Raimondo’s Italian Market and Cheese Shop
Paso Robles, CA 93446