Hoboken: August 2007 Archives

I usually check the Philly Pretzel Factory website "locations" list every few weeks, trying to see if someone was smart and and steal my million dollar idea...

Just open up a Philly Pretzel Factory in Hoboken, approach every bar in town about buying a box for football Saturdays and Sundays and rake in your money.

I'm telling ya, it will be gangbusters.

Well imagine my surprise, but we have one coming to town, thanks for Dave and Chris Chalmers. I don't know them. The address says "2 Newark Street", but I know that address and isn't that at the end of the block between the post office and the cigar store? Would be a good location, but I just can't see it being there and think it was a temporary address (or I could be wrong...)

Anyhow, very much hope they open very soon!!

The Cheese Store

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Hobokenites often lament that our town is losing its character and charm to every new chain store, bank and real estate office that seems to spring up on Washington Street every few months, but there are charming new businesses if you know where to look, like at 720 Monroe Street, home to The Cheese Store.

It is owned by Chung Park, 081907a.jpgwhose passion for the dairy culinary arts began because of fate. This passion began with a job many years ago at specialty store, Todaro Bros, in New York City. He was assigned to the cheese department by the management, and where he started to learn his craft for over a year. Then, reading the New York Times one day, he saw an ad for a six month apprenticeship at a Goat Cheese Farm in Jeffersonville, New York, near the Catskills. It would not only enhance his knowledge, but it was free room & board, too. He jumped at the chance, and after learning what he could, he came back to New York City to work at Murray's for about five years. After Murray's, he worked for importers / wholesalers and would consult various businesses on what cheese they should buy - and why. Then Chung realized that he could be that business. He had the knowledge and the interest to start his own business in a field which he was an expert.

The long winding road brought Chung to Hoboken, where he offically became a cheesemonger on July 19th 2007, only 4 days after the birth of his first child. 081907e.jpg
He chose Hoboken, because of the people who live here, people who would be receptive to the variety and depth of his product. At his store, it isn't only about cheese - he has cured meats, olives, walnuts, dried apricots, pate, sausage, yogurt, milk and cultured butter, and baugettes.

But I do have to take a moment to mention the fresh sandwiches. Upon my visit to the store, I walked in, and looked at the ever present chalk board, which has the daily written specials. I chose a sandwich with French Ham, Gruyere, lettuce, dijon on a baugette from Baltazar's Bakery. It was simply, my friends, worth the walk alone. He tells me that the sandwiches change often, but has made a "signature sandwich" from mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, balsamic vinagrette and fresh basil leaves and it was also just as exquisite as the first.

After sampling that, Chung took the time to explain the various process of cheese to me, from understanding how you can have artisan, farmhouse, dairy and industrial cheese makers who all produce an enormous wide variety of cheese for the international consumers. Much like in the world of wine, you have specific vineyards who are renown for their wine, you also have specific cheesemakers who are renown for their cheese.

Chung is able to wade through the quagmire, 081907c.jpgto bring a great selection of cheeses, which he classifies as: Hard Ripened (those that age and become dense), Soft Ripened (those that age and become, well, soft), Washed Rind (rubbed with brine at a young age and allowed to age) and Bleu Cheese (those that age and have mould on the outside or inside). Some customers will walk in knowing exactly what they want, and others are curious.

Chung tells me that he has a motto: "Whatever they are curious about, I encourage them to taste."

He does so without hestiation, often using a cheese slicer on the hard cheeses, or a small spoon on the soft cheeses, to let the customers try what is behind the display case. Much like a sommilier, Chung can guide the consumers towards what may interest them. Unlike going to a wine store, where it is nearly impossible to sample a wine before opening it, the customers at The Cheese Store, are welcome to sample everything that strikes an interest.

My knowledge of cheese is very basic. At a young age, I knew only of swiss, cheddar and mozarella. As I got older, I was exposed to gouda, brie and havarti. There can just be a dizzying array of cheese out there, and Chung has an amazing selection. We tried Fromager D'Affinois, Humbolt Fog, Delice De Bourgogne, Foglie Di Noce (Tuscan pecorino wrapped in walnut leaves, and my favorite I think!), Abbaye De081907d.jpg
Belloc. I found that upon tasting that I liked the hard ripened more, and didn't enjoy the briny taste of the Washed Rind as much. But I found myself learning and enjoying everything that Chung was teaching me about this experience.

What The Cheese Store has is exactly what is missing from other competing stores in Hoboken - someone like Chung Park. If you walk into Garden of Eden, certainly they have a large cheese selection. Who would you rather describe to you the cheese you are interested in, a teenage employee who is working there part-time or someone who has the experience of Chung Park? Will that store open the cheese up for you, and let you sample it? Are the prices as competitive as The Cheese Store? I doubt it.

I absolutely encourage everyone to expand their horizons. Go out there and try new things. Take an hour out of your day, and just try something new. Say hello to Chung, he is a great guy and so was his father Peter, who was helping behind the counter. We need more establishments in Hoboken like The Cheese Store, places that restore our faith that Hoboken isn't losing its personality, but gaining them, if you know where to look.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Hoboken category from August 2007.

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