Southport Cheese Shoppe from traditional to the exotic
STORY BY: AMI BROWN
When Lisa and Eric Stettner decided to leave New Jersey for life in the slower lane, they had no idea a Gourmet Cheese Shoppe was in their future. The residents of Southport sure are glad they did! The Southport Cheese Shoppe is a little hidden gem, right here in plain sight! Located at 417 N Howe Street, access couldn’t be easier. I had the pleasure of meeting the owners and tasting some of their breads and cheeses, and no doubt I’ll be back for a second helping.
Lisa and Eric moved to Southport about four years ago, and were looking for a new venture. They decided to partner up with another couple to open a gourmet cheese shop. Well after lots of planning and research, the other couple decided to explore other options. Now with some great mentors to advise them, the persistent couple forged ahead with the well thought out plans on their own. Although it meant a lot more work, they proudly opened the Southport Cheese Shoppe in March much to the delight of locals.
The couple is accustomed to hard work and business ownership. Eric owned a successful auto repair business back in New Jersey and Lisa worked for the public school system as a school bus driver. Far from the gourmet world of cheese, I’d say they’ve taken their new careers by storm and love it.
The Southport Cheese Shoppe carries the finest hand selected domestic, international, artisan and gourmet cheeses in town. If you enjoy quality, award-winning cheese, you must stop in, have a taste and immerse yourself in this world of rich flavor.
The shop offers traditional wheels like, their most popular – triple creamy Brie, along with a variety of cheddars, Swiss, Camembert, Gouda, and Romano. Lisa is happy to take requests for specialty cheeses and is happy to custom order to taste.
They also carry exotic cheeses like their Ubriacone; an Italian cheese, soaked in local red wine and covered with grape leaves to age.I got to sample this, and it is a mouth watering flavors that pair perfectly with the rosemary crackers. Needless to say, I walked out of there with a bag full of goodies.
Another unique cheese is their Casatica; a mild milky cheese with a sweet soft finish. What makes it unique? Well it’s Italian and it’s made from Water Buffalo milk.The Gouda cheese they stock is ranked one of the top 60 cheeses in the world, and just happens to be Lisa’s favorite!
One of the most interesting combinations of flavors is their gourmet cheddar flavored with espresso and lavender buds. Lisa says this cheese goes perfectly with crackers or on a baguette. One of their delighted customers commented, “I haven’t had brie like this since I was in France.”
“Our local customers are thrilled because there is nowhere else to get fresh baked New York breads like these.” Let’s face it; a lot of Southport transplants have come from up North, and other places where gourmet cheeses are more abundant. This little shop really hits the spot for locals and tourists alike. They bake fresh daily Jewish Seed Rye, French Baguettes, Multigrain, Rolls, and Olive Seprata – which is a soft dense break apart bread stuffed with olives to die for. If you are in the mood for a gourmet Panini, make sure to stop by at lunchtime where you can take away a delicious treat, a perfect escape during your busy day.
If you’re looking for more than a cheese shop, you’re in luck! They stock a variety of rubs and sauces—The Jalapeño Pepper Jam, Fig Spreads, and gourmet rubs are a few other popular items. Vivian Howard, co-owner of Chef & the Farmer Restaurant in Kinston, North Carolina and star of The Chef’s Life on PBS, introduced a line of marinades and spices. You can find plenty choices of her brand on the shelves as well.
If you are a huge fan of olive oil like I am you’ll want to stop by to taste their delicious varieties. The Pons specialty oils are from Spain and you can see the spices right there in the jar. Some are full of garlic, others lemon, rosemary and ginger. These pair nicely with balsamic vinegar with the Olive Seprata bread – trust me, it’s what I had for dinner.
If you are not quite sure about trying something new, what better way but to have a girl’s cheese tasting night out! For a $5 donation to charity, the limited space sells out fast, so check the Facebook page for upcoming events. The Cheese Shoppe has recently teamed up with the Southport Tea House for a unique experience, tea and cheese paring. This event is scheduled for November 12, so don’t wait too late. Another service you might need in the near future is a custom cheese platter. This is a perfect choice during the holidays when you have extra guests or have to plan a party or office function. The Cheese Shoppe will happily put together a selection within your budget. Lisa has just as much fun preparing these as you do eating them. Call (910) 477-6387 to order, they can prepare something special for you with short notice until the Holiday rush. Their boutique gifts are as versatile as the cheese menu. From cutting boards, knives, local NC honey, chipotles, design- er vinegars, smoked meats and cute little kitchen gadgets; something unique for everyone. This is the perfect one stop shop not only to try a new cheese, but also to grab a bite, a party gift and dinner bread to compliment any meal.