‘One cheese led to another’: Behind the counter with Feast!’s Sara Adduci

Photo: Tom McGovern Photo: Tom McGovern

Sometimes, when it comes to food, it’s best to leave it to the experts—from your brunch omelet to your post-dinner cheese plate. We asked Feast! cheesemonger Sara Adduci to tell us how to do it right. She’s been cheesemongering for 12 years, ever since taking a part-time job at a shop in Richmond following a “terrible addiction to a two-year aged Gouda. One cheese led to another and soon enough I was hooked,” she says.

Not hooked enough to try her hand at making cheese on her own, though.

“I made cheese with Gail Hobbs-Page at Caromont Farm, back in the day,” Adduci says. “But I’m around so many of my favorites at Feast! I’ve never seen the need!”

Here’s what she says about creating the perfect plate (including a universal crowd-pleaser).

How much cheese do you actually end up eating every day?

About a pound. I’m kidding. Honestly, not all that much! I have some quality control nibbles here and there throughout the day, but generally it isn’t a huge amount.

What’s the most common question people ask you
when they approach the counter?

That would probably be “What is your favorite cheese?”, the answer to which depends on the day, my mood, which direction the wind is blowing and whatever swoon-worthy cheese is my current crush.

What’s a good rule of thumb when buying cheese for a party (i.e. how much cheese per person)?

I suggest three to five cheeses, making sure to include different textures and different milks, and I calculate about 2-3 ounces of cheese per person.

I have $50 to spend to make a cheese board. What do I buy?

Something soft and creamy, something firm and a wild card, like a blue or something with a bit of attitude. This should be about $30- 35. Use the rest to get a baguette, a box of crackers, some mixed nuts and fresh or dried fruit. The best suggestion I have, though, is to find a cheesemonger to help. We are really good at finding just what you need to please your people, whether they are conservative cheese folks or wide-open turophiles (cheese connoisseurs). We can let you taste first, we can work within any themes or special requests, and we can send you home with all you need to impress!

Feast!’s Sara Adduci says that, as a cheesemonger, she doesn’t eat as much cheese on the job as one would think. We say she’s squandering an opportunity.

CURDS THIS WAY What’s a no-fail cheese choice? Adduci says, “Two words: triple crème. These rich, decadent, soft cheeses are like cheese butter, and it is very rare that someone doesn’t like them.”

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