The Cheese Shop of Concord opened its doors 50 years ago, in 1967. Back then, America was familiar with just a handful of cheeses: cheddar and Swiss, meunster and havarti, cream cheese, brie and roquefort. Today’s consumer is familiar with, and obsessed to buy, dozens more.
Cheeses from New England, California, and every state in between. Cheeses imported not only from France and Holland, but New Zealand and the Azores. Cheeses made from cow, sheep and goat milks. Tiny wheels and giant wheels; at up to $50 per pound.
It’s a sea change from 1967. Today’s cheesemonger, therefore, must be knowledgeable about thousands of cheeses, and keep them in stock and ready for consumption.
For 50 years, The Cheese Shop of Concord has been a regional resource for all things cheesey under just three proprietors: the first from 1967-1976, the second from 1976 to 2003, and Peter Lovis from 2003 to the present. The shop is obviously doing something right, but what is it? Locals say it all boils down to the shop’s motto: “Where shopping is an Old World pleasure.”
“There’s something to be said for the old fashioned give and take between merchant and customer that was taken for granted in 1967, but is missing in today’s impersonal, e-commerce environment,” says Lovis.
In celebration of its 50th birthday, The Cheese Shop of Concord plans a variety of public events in 2017.
Going To Txotx On Sunday
Sunday, May 21 from 1-4 PM
A txotx (pronounced chuch) is a traditional Basque festival that heralds the readiness of hard cider pressed from regional apples. This unique outdoor event will take place at the scenic Concord Rod & Gun Club, located on Strawberry Hill Road, just a few miles north of downtown Concord. In case of rain, the event will be moved indoors, to a vintage sportsman’s lodge overlooking the club’s private pond.
A highlight of the event will be the Blessing of the Barrel, when a 55-gallon wooden barrel is tapped, and its contents literally spurt into one’s glass like a faucet. Attendees can also watch as local cider apples pass through an apple press for bottling and drinking later this summer.
Each $65 admission ticket entitles the bearer to enjoy: a take-home cider glass from which to quaff unlimited samples from New England’s top hard cidermakers, and a bounty of Basque-inspired food including grilled steak, cod frittatas, olives, nuts, cheeses and more. At press time, these 8 cidermakers have confirmed participation:
* Artifact Cider
* Carr’s Ciderhouse
* Good Life
* Pony Shack
* Zoll Cellars
In addition, attendees will receive a complimentary 22 ounce bottle of hard cider, made from apples hand-pressed at the event on May 21 and carefully fermented until late July. Folks will be advised when the cider is ready to drink, and bottle pick-up will be available at The Cheese Shop of Concord.
Tickets for Concord’s first-ever txotx will be on sale at www.EventBrite.com beginning May 1st.
Saturday, July 22, 11 AM-3 PM
The Cheese Shop of Concord’s 50th birthday will be celebrated on this day with a gargantuan birthday cake, and slices are free to anyone who stops by. In addition, the shop’s executive chef will have a “sausage stand” set up out front to sell grilled brats, wursts and hot dogs all afternoon. The party coincides with the Town of Concord’s annual Sidewalk Sale, so plan to come and spend the whole day.
Beginning in September, from 6:30 - 8:00 PM
A series of four evening classes, after-hours in the shop, are open to enthusiasts who are curious about the countless varieties of cheeses being produced, about aged meats like salami or prosciutto that pair well with them, and about beverages that love to accompany cheese. Enrollment is limited to 12 students per session, and the cost is $40 per student. Dates and times are shown below:
* Tuesday, September 13: Cheese 101 with proprietor Peter Lovis
* Tuesday, September 20: Beer, Wine and Mead with Mike Reilly
* Tuesday, September 27: Charcuterie 101 with Chef Justin Kopaz
* Tuesday, October 4:Easy Entertaining with Cheese, with Keir Weinberg
Crucolo Cheese Parade
Thursday, December 7, starts at 3:30 PM
For the eighth consecutive year, the Cheese Shop and the Town of Concord welcome a 400-lb. wheel of crucolo cheese from Trentino, Italy with a lively street parade of flags, speeches, horses, live music, dancing and of course, tasting. Video of the 2016 and previous parades can be viewed at the Cheese Shop’s YouTube channel.