On our last long weekend escape we paid our first visit to The Cheese Iron located just outside Portland, ME. Our trusted wine mentor, Howie Rubin of Bauer Wines knew we were headed North and strongly recommended that we visit this treasure trove for lovers of cheese and fine food.
Howie said, "First and foremost, I begged them to open up a second location on Newbury Street...My wife worked with Vincent at Formaggio, so it was a fun reunion for them. I read about them in some travel mags with food stories. Loved the cheese selection, found some local Maine cheeses to bring home, as well as some unusual spices....and two AMAZING sandwiches. I remember how great the place smelled! Very well run, conducive to hanging out and absorbing it all."
Vincent said that over Columbus Day, the shop would be open their regular hours 8am-6pm Friday, Saturday and Monday. They closed on Sundays so plan accordingly.We asked what cheese was spectacular now. He picked two favorites of the moment- Pleasant Ridge Reserve, a fantastic raw cow's milk cheese from Upland Cheese Company in Wisconsin and an old favorite of ours, Bailey Hazen Blue from Jasper Hill Farms in Vermont.
Vincent also gave us a mouth-watering reason for a special trip to the Cheese Iron. He said, "By the time Columbus Day hits, our cave-aged prosciutto should be ready." He explained that "We're taking prosciutto that is fairly young and maturing it further in our cheese cave."
Naturally, call before you drive two hours specifically for the prosciutto because these folks like to do things right and the ham won't be ready until they decide that it has reached its peak.
As to those "AMAZING sandwiches,"must-try selections are the Cuban and (Vincent's favorite and ours too) the Bella Mortadella. "As we move into fall we find ourselves making more pastrami and more rubens and we'll start beefing-up our hot soup and cold pasta salad selections," said Vincent.
We recommend picking up a picnic lunch at the Cheese Iron and taking it to a nearby lighthouse or a state park to dine with a spectacular view. They'll be happy to help with directions and suggestions if you need them.If you find the information on BostonZest useful, do your part to keep the Zest going by beginning your Amazon shopping from here. Here's a wonderful book and would make a perfect gift for the cheese lover in your life.
Photos ©2009 Penny Cherubino
Cheese, Wine and Specialty Foods
200 US Route 1 # 300, Scarborough, ME 04074-6004