Inspiration on a Sunday.....

While visiting family in Connecticut this weekend, I found myself at Whole Foods where a quick run into the store for Tom's Toothpaste turned into a 35 minute perusing session of what I've been labeling as "field research" as we prepare for The Cheese Shop of Salem to open its doors. I browsed the beer section, wondering where the wine was located, and was told by a friendly grocer that wine could not be sold in grocery stores in CT, which I had forgotten after having lived in the Boston area for six years. I inspected the beer section with delight, looking at labels and noting which ones stood out and how the beers were organized. I opted for three of Maine Beer Company's 16.9 oz bottles: Peeper (American Ale), Zoe (Amber Ale), and a Mean Old Tom (American Stout). They would make great refreshments for a family BBQ in a few hours. I also grabbed a six pack of Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro, which Susanne and I split the other night after a long work day. The addition of nitrogen gave the beer a creamy mouth feel with hints of coffee and chocolate with no noticeable hops. Perfect way to end a day.

I had forgotten about the toothpaste staple and snapped out of my beer haze and wandered towards the front of the store with an arm full of refreshments. Locating an abandoned shopping cart, I freed my hands in order to try some body cream samples at a pop-up booth. Handing out samples was Adam Grossman, the founder and owner of the Seaweed Bath Co. out of Austin, Texas. Adam began the Seaweed Bath Co. with his wife Allison to develop hydrating, seaweed-based formulas to make creams, shampoos, conditioners, and soaps. With a team of harvesters in Portland, Maine, Adam and Allison collect their seaweed directly from the ocean to use in their products. We spoke a bit about the importance of natural skin products and how essential they are for day-to-day living, especially for those with psoriasis or eczema. The conversation drifted to how I was part of the team opening a cheese and wine shop in Salem and his first question was, "Oh! Do you make your own wine or cheese?" I smiled and said, not yet, but I would like to one day. We spoke about the shop's philosophy of selling products with an emphasis on sustainable practices and natural production. Natural wine, similar to his natural skin products, is important to digest just as it is to use natural, of-the-earth ingredients externally on one's body. Beauty is skin deep, as the saying goes; what's inside the soaps that we use, and the beverages that we drink, and the treats that we eat, matters to how we live our days. Adam said he would be traveling next to Portland, Maine to harvest seaweed and he asked what kinds of natural wine I would suggest. I suggested he stop at Portland's new wine shop Maine and Loire, a lovely shop with a knowledgable staff and a quaint selection of natural wines.

It's a beautiful thing being able to hear people's stories of creativity and curiosity which entice them to the point of beginning a business. Speaking with small business owners gets me even more excited about The Cheese Shop of Salem opening soon! The passion of small business owners is inspiring and motivating. I left Whole Foods with a paper bag full of free samples from Adam and bottle of his lavender body cream, a bit too much beer for a Sunday morning, and mint toothpaste. Field research accomplished! 

How to pour a Nitro beer! 



Shoveling our way to Spring

I grew up in the Boston area and I cannot remember another winter like this one. The snow has piled and piled, feet on top of feet, paralyzing the city, accompanied by frigid temperatures that don't let the snow even begin to melt, the sidewalks are slicked with treacherous ice, so narrow between the towering snowbanks that people have to walk single file.

But the folks from MA are a hardy bunch, and they will brave through. Eventually, believe it or not, the snow will melt, the sidewalk will emerge (even if the worse for wear), temperatures will rise, that first extraordinary shoot will push its way up through the muddy turf, bringing with it that rush of joy and hope that only spring after a long winter can inspire...

In the meantime, support your local businesses! Everyone is suffering for loss of revenue, from restaurants down to the suppliers they usually buy from. Continue braving the way out to your local cheese shops, wine stores, groceries, butchers. Cook up something wonderful and share it with those you love. Laugh at being part of this momentous event, this record-breaking winter, along with all the people around you in your community.

Here's to spring and here's to our little store's exciting future that will come with it. We can't wait to serve you and feed you, when the Derby Wharf will once again be lush with green grass glowing in the sunlight, The Friendship will rock lazily on the water, clear from ice and snow, and the streets of downtown Salem will no longer look like a strange winter maze. You will be able to come to our store to buy supplies for your first picnic, and that first bottle of wine on the terrace! We can't wait.