The New Cheese on the Block: The Cavern

Since we moved into our condo on 104 Street nearly three years ago, we’ve seen some wonderful food-related additions to the block. Dauphine (formerly Queen of Tarts) in 2011 and Pangea (now much better stocked), Evoolution and Kelly’s Pub in 2012. Cask and Barrel, Roast and Mercer Tavern round out the Promenade.

On Tuesday, a cheese shop will join this growing list of establishments. The Cavern, located in the Phillips Lofts, will open its doors to the public on April 9. Mack and I were lucky enough to attend a private opening last Friday for a sneak peek.

The space formerly housed a swim shop, but walking in, not a single trace of its former occupant remained. Instead, we found an elegant space that elevates what can be expected of a subterranean storefront – a neutral but modern colour palette, gorgeous masonry that mimics the original brickwork and sparkling granite countertops.

The Cavern

The Cavern

The Cavern is first and foremost a cheese shop. Proprietor Tricia Bell has over 20 years of hospitality experience, but more recently, studied under the 2011 Cheesemonger of the Year, Steve Jones of The Cheese Bar in Portland, Oregon. It’s obvious that Tricia adores cheese; her enthusiasm was infectious as she described her cheeses having different “personalities” and “behaving differently”.

The Cavern

Cheese case

Tricia stocks a range of cheeses, but focuses on the middle range of cheeses that most people are familiar with. Regarding locally-made products, she currently stocks several varieties from Sylvan Star and The Cheesiry, and is working on bringing in Smokey Valley Goat Cheese as well. It is notable that The Cavern carefully packs cheese in a layer of Formaticum, a patented paper technology made of organic materials that helps to better preserve cheese.

Beyond the cheese counter, however, The Cavern will also offer food service. Without a full kitchen, the menu is limited, but their Cavern-inspired cheese, vegetarian and meat grilled sandwiches (which will feature Sylvan Star cheese) sound delicious. For dinner (after 5pm), they will serve cheese and charcuterie boards alongside wine and beer.

The Cavern

Cheese board

Tricia chose beans from Portland-based Coava Coffee Roasters for her coffee and espresso-based drinks, and will use Jacek chocolate in her mochas. She is also currently experimenting with desserts made with chocolate and cheese – a two ingredients not normally combined.

The Cavern

Coffee and chocolate

We’re already looking forward to visiting The Cavern this week for some nibbles and of course, to stock up on some cheese! Thanks again to Shauna for the invitation, and to Tricia for having us!

The Cavern
2, 10169 104 Street
(780) 455-1336
Monday-Thursday 7am-8pm, Friday and Saturday 7am-11pm, Sunday 10am-5pm

No Cooking Required: Charcuterie, Cheese and Wine

I had picked up some duck breast ham from Greens, Eggs and Ham earlier in the summer, and was intent on saving it for a special occasion. That went out the window when I decided that Saturday would be occasion enough.

The plan was to assemble a Proof-worthy charcuterie and cheese board that would include, among other things, the duck breast ham and Mack’s favourite, garlic chicken sausage from Sunworks Farm. Where better to shop for fine meats and cheeses than the Italian Centre and Paddy’s International Cheese Market?

It was insanely busy at the Little Italy location of the Italian Centre, but the many optimally efficient staff on hand managed to pare down the line quite quickly. We picked up some parma prosciutto and speck, and headed to High Street.

Though I’ve purchased cheese from Paddy’s before (12509 102 Avenue, 780-413-0367), they were always familiar commodities. This time, our visit was blind and we relied on their guidance. A friendly staff member expertly directed us to two varieties based on our specifications – allegretto (a sheep’s milk cheese from Quebec) and rougette (a creamy, mild cheese). We also bought some applewood smoked cheddar, a recommendation from Adam.

Our last stop was the Wine Cellar. We requested help to find a bottle of semi-sweet white wine – a staff person provided a few suggestions, and we settled on a German Spatlese (it was a little sweeter than we wanted, but was a smooth, easy-to-drink wine overall).

While we could have provided some accompaniments to the board – honey, applesauce, fruit – we kept it simple, and just served it with some toasted sourdough from Tree Stone Bakery (8612 99 Street, 780-433-5924). It was an indulgent (and relatively expensive) dinner, but so worth it.

Charcuterie & Cheese Board

Our charcuterie and cheese board (click through for the Flickr photo containing embedded notes)