I was supposed to go to a friend's Taste of Home Entertaining party Saturday but I had written down the directions to party-giver's house address wrong and never could find it. On the way home I happened to glance over at a shopping mall and saw this sign:
Two of my favorite words: "gourmet" and "cheese". Springfield isn't as small as it used to be but it's still small town enough that those two words together prompted me to flip a quick "U"ie right in the middle of Republic Road which prompted the guy behind me to flip a quick something too but I'm fairly sure it wasn't a "U"ie.
Walking in the front door I beheld a mini Dean & DeLuca, complete with wire chef's-shelved displays in the middle, wooden shelves and barrels along the walls, and a row of cheese and meat coolers across the back, along with chalkboard specials on the wall. I could almost hear the angels singing over my head and see that movie spotlight honing in on me. It was an ethereal moment.
Smack dab, the first display that accosted me was Rothschild's, which is now much more than raspberries. Rothschild's was my first introduction to "gourmet" food back in The Plant Boutique days when everyone went there to get uber cool snacks for home parties like for the one I was supposed to be arriving at right at that moment. The Roth seems almost quaint to me now, but looking over all the new labels I'm sure I'll still be buying for old times' sake. The raspberry honey mustard was a standard. You really can't beat it.
But there was much more to see in this new place.
As I wandered around the room I found regional honeys, capers, olives, TRUFFLES, dipping oils, multi-colored pastas, striped multi-colored pastas, grilling planks, French gray salt, and expeller pressed oils in cans that light won't penetrate and degrade them. I found dressings and seasonings by our home girl Paula Deen and I left lipstick prints on at least one jar of something with The Barefoot Contessa's logo on it. I don't even remember what it was. I was just so damn happy to see her. In MY town.
What a great day.
And then I saw it. From across the room I saw "it". I bee-lined across the room to "it" only to be met by the owner of the shop, a nice lady named Jana, who asked me if she could help me find anything. Instead of helping me find anything, she simply wiped my tears of joy with the bottom of her apron. I only need to say four words to you and you will understand the scene completely: Springfield + Missouri + King + Arthur. KING ARTHUR! And then I saw the other "it" that goes along with King Arthur: Nielsen-Massey. Yes, kids, you can indeed get great baking products in our berg again. The ghost of the Parisian Pantry stirs.
I passed out on the spot. Awakening, I told the tin man and the scarecrow that I'd had a lovely dream that you could buy King Arthur flour and Nielsen-Massey extracts in this town and, oh, what a laugh we had. Wait. It's true. Shake yourself, it's not a dream. Everyone within a hundred miles of here, put down what you're doing right now and run straight for the The Cheddar Block on West Republic Road. LET'S BAKE!
We're not even done yet.
Cheese. Cured Meats. The Dairy Case. Let the photos speak for themselves on this one. Jana said they try to keep at least 150 kinds of cheese on hand at any time. That made the Christmas/Santa "I left him cheeeeeeese" commercial play in my head and I was probably grinning as big as that little girl. There were French hard cheeses and Swedish soft cheeses, cow's milk, goat's milk, white, orange, and in the case of a port cheddar, a dark purple cheese. I wanted to swan dive in and bathe in the deli cases of cheese and Italian hams but I also wanted to be allowed to come back to the store so good manners won out. For the moment.
Above the meat counter is an array of jarred products opened for tasting and at the store's grand opening on July 14th, they'll have product tastings by six of their vendors. So we're all meeting there that Saturday morning, right?
The Cheddar BLOCK 1440 West Republic Road, Springfield, MO
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-8pm
Web site: www.thecheddarblock.com (domain can be bookmarked but web site creation is still in process)
Owners: Chris and Jana Daugherty
Soon, Jana said, they'll be adding cheese tastings and cooking classes. Keep checking the web site for more information.
Wanna see what I bought? Okay. Twist my arm and click below for my mini shopping spree and more pics of the shop.
Okay sort of left to right and back to front: expeller-pressed canola and walnut oils, tri-color pasta, Maine Lemon salt, Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste, Benning goat cheese, Munchego cheese, black truffles, anchovy paste, Paula Deen's seasoning salt, Parrona cheese, Asiago cheese, King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour, and Plugra european style no salt added butter.
Let's tour, shall we?
Here's a shot of the lovely Jana, the tasting counter above the meat display case, and the chalk specials' board:
Our girl Paula Deen:
Our other girl, Ina:
Multi-colored striped pastas:
That's only the highlights. I forgot to photograph the King Arthur and Nielsen-Massey stuff altogether. Can you believe it?
Next time you're on that side of town stop in to say hello, pick up some goodies, and tell 'em Glenna sent you.
By the way, I did eventually make it to the Taste of Home Entertaining party and ordered a really pretty square footed cake stand and a grill pan that I've been wanting to buy for a while.
But now I'm done. No more spending money for at least a month!