Best of the day: Cheese department at Mazzaro's Italian Market in St. Petersburg

Posted by Arielle Stevenson on Tue, Jan 21, 2014 at 7:40 AM

It's true, if I had ample disposable income, quite a bit would be spent on cheese. Not on some no-name brick of cheddar, this isn't about quantity. I'm an explorer hot on the pursuit of cheese knowledge. But this journey is a costly one, upwards of $20 a pound. So in the meantime, I've got a cheese-tasting hack for getting some budget-friendly cheese action.

Inside Mazzaro's Italian Market in St. Petersburg is one of the area's most eclectic cheese departments. There's an entire staff devoted just to cheese, that's their sole focus and forte. And they really know cheese. During the past holiday season, the Mazzaro's cheese room staff correctly identified a cheese based on two vague keywords along the lines of "that cheese" and a series of subsequent questions (it was Jarlsberg).

Now, inside the cheese department, there's a cooler containing a wicker basket full of small wedges. Do not overlook this little basket. Inside are small and affordable cheese samplish-sized wedges from around the world. I imagine these are the too-small cuts from closer to the rind (based on my own experience). Most are priced between $2-$6 and the selection varies from day to day.

Sometimes I can only get a small brick or two (around the holidays I will empty that sucker). But that Mary Poppins-like basket contains a wealth of knowledge, and of course, delicious cheese.

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