Every now and then life takes you in a direction that you just didn’t see coming. When I started writing about food it was just for me and maybe my close friends and family to find new places to enjoy great food. 6 months later it has snowballed into an amazing second “job” and will hopefully one day occupy enough of my time that I can focus solely on writing. Along the way I have found some great food and this weekend was no exception. As you may or may not know I am a bit of a social media junkie, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Hootsuite, they are all amazing tools for getting your message to potential readers/customers and it just may be the best free advertising you can find, something like word of mouth on steroids.
I found Benton Brothers Fine Cheese on Twitter and a few days after following them I received an email saying they were having a Grand Opening at their new location at 3432 Cambie Street in Vancouver. Cheese is usually in most dishes I enjoy provided the type of cuisine and region it comes from use cheese on a regular basis, for example, cheese and sushi do not mix, ever. I hopped in my truck on Saturday afternoon and headed for Cambie street. I had a Seahorses and Stone Roses playlist flowing from my Ipod because as everybody knows, John Squire is the best guitarist of the last 20 years and it seemed like a good fit for a super cool day filled with cheese, wine and roasted bison.
I parked a block away from Benton Brothers and wandered down to the shop, passing 2 empty bottles of Olde English 800 sitting on the curb outside a church reminding me of my misspent youth. As I approached the door I realized this shop was a pretty big deal. The place was packed and the staff was busily readying gourmet cheeses, patés, cured meats and other delights for the excited crowd, all the while explaining where every cheese was from and offering pairing recommendations to go along with the wine and beer samples they were handing out.
The shop itself is very nice with a very hip, rustic feel very fitting of somewhere you can buy food of this quality. There are also fine oils, cheese knives and other items to accompany the core items along with grilled sandwiches that were too tasty looking for me to pass up. I had to try the Roasted Bison sandwich with blue cheese, romaine, tomato and onions. I also spotted drinks from the Pop Shoppe that I used to drink as a kid. I added a healthy slab of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a container of cheese curds to my order and waited in the line up of happy people leaving with their dairy based treasures. I had planned to introduce myself but I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of fine cheeses from Benton Brother to customer and I know I will be back soon so I quietly paid and slipped out the door to go and eat my roasted bison sandwich and drink my Pop Shoppe Cola.
The sandwich was terrific with a great kick from the blue cheese and the bison was like eating shaved prime rib, fantastic. The Cola from the Pop Shoppe was a really great nostalgic moment that made me think fondly of the days when you could get Pop Shoppe soda from the Pop Shoppe itself, you would bring your empties back to where you bought them and they would reuse them, sort of a precursor to todays recycling programs. What a great lunch, I headed back to my home base thinking my anonymity was intact but it seems my camera, my ultra cool wooden eyeglasses and twitter conspired to reveal my true identity. It’s kind of a Bruce Wayne thing…during the week I look like an Elevator guy so most places have no idea who’s Tweeting about their food, but the weekend is another story and I’m kind of obvious.
Benton Brothers Fine Cheese is a must for cheese lovers or anybody else who appreciates quality product and great service. They supply some great local restaurants with awesome cheese and give local foodies a friendly and personal alternative to large chain retailers in the search for great food. Their other location, 2104 West 41st Ave, has been around for a while and I have it on good authority that it is just as great. So thanks to Benton Brothers Fine Cheese for inviting me to their Grand Opening, for providing great food to this amazing city and for pointing out that my wooden glasses are super cool, which my wife may not agree with.