WRITER | CANDIE CONAT
PHOTOS | ROCKFORD CHEESE SHOP
As a wine and cheese lover living in Europe for two years, Heather Baehre grew to appreciate the fantastic variety of good artisan cheeses available there. When she returned to the US, she noticed a lack of those same quality cheeses in Rockford, where she lives. So, when she found herself facing a layoff after 16 years working in corporate America, Baehre decided it was the perfect time to make a 20-year dream come true.
Since Baehre had been dreaming of her wine and cheese shop for so long, she already had a lot of ideas brewing in her head. The layoff was effective May 2017, and by September she was ready to throw open the doors of the Rockford Cheese Shop.
Baehre says that Rockford’s downtown is quaint, interesting, and full of great shops. As soon as she opened her doors, the people of Rockford welcomed her with open arms and showed up in droves to give support that has been ongoing for nearly three years now.
The shop carries over 100 different cheeses, from soft and bloomy rinds like brie to semi-softs like fontina and provolone, to cheddar, gouda, and havarti, to even the really hard and flavorful pecorino, parmesan, and grana-padano. Their selection includes cheeses made from the milk of cows, goats, sheep, and, on occasion, water buffalo. Baehre says that mozzarella made with water buffalo milk is tarter than cow’s milk mozzarella and is easier for some people to digest.
Beyond the 100 varieties of cheese regularly in stock, there is also a rotational list of 15-20 seasonal favorites that keep customers waiting in anticipation. It’s a fun way to offer new and unique products that help give the shop its distinctive personality.
A big fall favorite is the annual arrival of Rogue River Blue from Oregon. It is made by Rogue River Creamery and has been named the 2019/2020 World Champion at the World Cheese Awards.
Rogue River Blue is made only in the fall when milk is the creamiest. The cheese is 100% organic and wrapped in pear brandy-soaked grape leaves and aged for one year. “Rogue River Blue is by far the best blue cheese around and is my favorite in the blue category. It usually arrives right around the shop’s anniversary date, so it’s a fun way to celebrate,” says Baehre.
Baehre finds it hard to pick a favorite – she loves them all – but a regular go-to is the piave vecchio, a hard, Italian cheese. “It’s really about personal preference. I love hard, dry, strong cheeses, and piave vecchio is so versatile. It can be used for snacking, cooking, or paired with a cabernet sauvignon for wine and cheese night.”
Rockford Cheese Shop, of course, has everything needed to pair with your new favorite cheeses. They offer a fine artisan wine selection along with all the necessities like meats, dried fruits and nuts, olives, pickles, crackers, jellies, and honey. The shop creates a fabulous selection of cheese and charcuterie boards that are true works of art – perfect for parties, weddings, and pretty much any celebration that might arise.
Rockford Cheese Shop
49 E Bridge Street NE
Rockford Michigan 49341
(616) 884-5570 l RockfordCheeseShop.com