If there is anything that I learned from living in Sweden as a high schooler and later traveling extensively throughout Europe, it is the following:
- You should not be able to see the bottom of your coffee cup when it’s full of just coffee. The darker and blacker the better.
- Wine is not just a beverage. It can be for celebration or just dinner. It can compliment, or it can stand alone. It is a great gift to give or receive even when you give and receive it to yourself.
- Bread should not be purchased in a plastic bag at a grocery store but at a small local bakery that use their hands to put love into each crusty, pillowy loaf.
- Butter is not evil, margarine is. Irish, French or Icelandic butter will rock your world, but it will require adjusting your exercise routine. Trust me; it is worth the extra effort.
- Cheese is not bland and boring but hard and soft and smelly and mild and creamy and nutty and sharp and salty and moldy and fruity and sweet and grassy and buttery and smoky and pungent and sometimes even astringent. And for the record, American cheese is not cheese. It is a “cheese food product.” A food product, if that does not make you sick to your stomach…
- And commercially sold cheese comes from goats and sheep and cows. Therefore…
goat. sheep. cow. north
When Gary and I moved to Charleston back in 2004, we were told to be prepared as Charleston was a “cheese desert.” What I mean is that offerings at any grocery store included only the basics: Colby, Swiss, Cheddar, Mozzarella, etc… but if I wanted Swedish PrästOast or French Mimolette or other European cheeses, I was out of luck. Whole Foods had just opened in Mount Pleasant, and Earth Fare was just adding a true cheese department. It was a dire situation, but we were moving anyway. Over the years things improved if only slightly. Then in 2011 goat.sheep.cow. opened downtown in a 500 sq ft space on at 106 Church Street. Like most Charlestonians, there was no way I was going to deal with downtown traffic and parking issues for cheese. So I never went to that location because I had no idea what I was missing.
Just one glass of wine
Then last November goat. sheep. cow. north opened. And as I blogged last week I went there for the first time last Tuesday and enjoyed a fabulous white wine. (Read here) In for one glass of wine and left after two with a bag of cheese and meat and a plan to get a case of wine. Wow, I may be late to the party, but I am all in now!
The shop is both a wine bar and retail shop. As you walk in and to your left you may sit at the bar or a table inside or out and enjoy a glass of wine and a cheese plate, charcuterie, soup, sandwiches or salads. Or walk straight in the door and do your shopping in the Fromagerie aka specialty cheese shop.
The Retail Shop
The key word here is “specialty”. You will not find your run of the mill grocery store cheeses and cured meats here. The store is highly curated with premium, quality products and goods you will not find anywhere else in Charleston (at least for now). Look for specialty condiments, olives, crackers, oils, and EVO baguettes. Not to mention a great wine selection to pair with your edible delectables you find in this little piece of food heaven. Premium products have a specialty price point but that will not stop me nor should it stop you.
When I first walked up to the first of two cheese display cases my eyes landed on Tomme de Savoie. A tear formed in my eyes as I had just found one of my favorite cheeses in the world. I immediately told her to wrap up the remaining part of the wheel because it was going home with papa! Four or five different cheeses in the Gruyère-style, Basque cheese, small-batch artisan cheeses from around the country. This place brings my big city food fantasy to Charleston, and I could not be happier.
The cured meat and paté display case is also filled with works of art. Actual Italian Proscuitto is fairly commonplace now so seeing it was not a surprise but when I saw the Serrano Ham, the tear that formed earlier flowed down my cheek. Then the wild boar dry-cured sausage; this place is nirvana, and I am home. I have a lot more exploring to do with the meats at g.s.c. but this where you will find me when I am shopping for cured meats and cheeses. So many meats, so little time.
The wine bar and retail shop are easily accessible from the Romney St exit on route 26, straight up Meeting St from downtown or from the Ravenel Bridge if coming from Mount Pleasant. There is excellent on street parking as well as the parking lots for Edmunds Oast, Butcher & Bee, etc. as the land/building owner is all the same. Meet with your friends for wines and a cheese platter that is unlikely to be served elsewhere. Or head over with co-workers for a salad or sandwich for a quick lunch.
goat. sheep. cow. is an oasis in a retail cheese desert. Think a curated, smaller scale Dean & DeLuca with nothing to dust. (yes, I used your line, Trudi). Interesting cheeses, patés and cured meats and bottles of wine that will make a Tuesday evening at home special. So when the Old World is calling let their knowledgeable staff guide you to make the selections you need for dinner.
Bread, Wine, Cheese, Olives and Serano Ham. Dinner is served!
GOAT.SHEEP.COW SOUTH 106 Church Street Charleston, South Carolina 843 480 2526
GOAT.SHEEP.COW NORTH 804 Meeting Street, Suite 102 Charleston, South Carolina 843 203 3118