Cheese Flights Take Off at Caputo’s in Holladay

Posted June 16, 2014 in
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Andy Fitzgerrall instructs the class. Photo: Amanda Rock

A welcoming patio is the first thing you’ll notice about the newest storefront of Caputo’s Market and Deli, located in a brand new shopping center in the heart of Holladay. An ample brick walkway lined with lampposts boasting bright pink flowers is an ideal setting for a stroll or dining al fresco.

Caputo’s, a world-famous Italian deli and market, is quite a draw. Locals can relax on the patio and discover new foods in the shop. Half the store is wide open with large windows facing the patio. The Italian market is modest, but has everything you need like fresh baguettes from Eva’s Bakery, an impressive meat and cheese counter and all the accoutrements you can imagine. The folks at Caputo’s love talking food—they’re knowledgeable and passionate about what they sell. Strike up a conversation with the person behind the deli case, try a few samples and soak up as much food knowledge as you can.

Caputo’s food classes are also a great way to get acquainted with the finer side of food. I’ve learned so much from the classes I’ve taken: Introduction to Fine Chocolate, taught by Matt Caputo and Middle Eastern Cooking instructed by Moudi Sbeity and Derek Kitchen, everyone’s favorite Hummusexuals and founders of Laziz Foods Middle Eastern Spreads. I was thrilled to be a part of Holladay’s very first class, Cheese Flights at Caputo’s.

I remember getting the press release—Andy Fitzgerrell was returning to Caputo’s. He’s one of the few people in Utah (besides Caputo) to hold the prestigious title of American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professionals, the highest standard certification for cheese professionals in the U.S. His infectious enthusiasm and knowledge of cheese makes him an excellent teacher. “Educating customers about our products—cheese, for example—helps them feel more confident when approaching any cheese counter,” says Fitzgerrall, “Cheese can be intimidating. It’s my goal to help alleviate some of that intimidation. Plus, it’s really fun to share the tasty things I’ve learned about and discovered.”

The Holladay location’s inaugural class featured spectacular pairings of wine (and a beer!) to six different cheeses. Based on their popular Cheese Flights served at the 15th and 15th location, special pairings are selected by Andy Fitzgerrell and Matt Caputo and delivered right to your table. It’s a super deal, for less than $10.00 and the price of your beverage, you get three different cheeses with olives and bread to nosh on. You can order the Cheese Flights at both the Holladay and 15th and 15th locations.

Our class gathered in the new storefront, which had been open for only four days. Fitzgerrell shared the history of cheese. It’s been around about 8000 years. Through long journeys through Mesopotamia on donkey, travelers stored milk in goat bladders. The swaying motion of donkey-travel agitated the milk, mixing it with the enzymes in the goat’s bladder, creating curds and whey. Rennet, found in stomach enzymes, catalyzes the coagulation that makes cheese. (Yum?) There are vast differences in animals’ milk, explained Fitzgerrell. Cow cheese is the most cost effective, but sheep’s cheese is the tastiest. He also shared the science behind cheese before we started the tasting.

The wine was served and samples of cheese were passed around. Our first pairing was my favorite. Rocchetta from Caseificio dell’Alta Langa, a fluffy three milk cheese (goat, cow and sheep milk combined), served on a spoon. It’s aged for ten days and air shipped from Italy. This delicate cheese was paired with a super dark and rich Brothers Thelonious, a Belgian style Abbey Ale. Contrasting dark, strong beer with the light and tasty cheese was genius. My tastebuds were happily surprised. Another impressive pairing was the Ossau Iraty, the oldest sheep’s milk cheese from France, and Brassfield Eruption, a voluptuous red blend. The combination was delicious, with mellow, earthy cheese playing against the rich fruity wine.

The Holladay location of Caputo’s is going to build their food community profoundly. For those of us who live in the suburbs, this will be the most interesting place to shop for groceries or grab a quick sandwich. More classes and fun events are on the horizon. “We are sticking to the same products: cheeses, meats, sandwiches, imported and domestic specialty groceries. The space is absolutely fantastic. We have an epic view of Mount Olympus out the front windows and a huge patio space for people to come sit,” says Fitzgerrell, “The building is really open and has tons of natural light, too. We’ll also be having live jazz on the patio on Saturdays from 5:30-8:30, just like the Caputo’s 15th location. It’s a very comfortable feeling store. I’m really looking forward to the growth of this location.” Keep your eyes open for more events, like Caputo’s Holladay on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.