From the moment you walk through the front door of Ann Arbor’s Zingerman’s Deli, you are treated to world-class customer service.
The Man and I stopped in last Sunday while driving from Kalamazoo to Detroit. To add to the “thrill”, the cheese counter is at the front door and immediately one of their Cheesemongers began plying us with cheese samples along with their cheeses’ “stories”.
In addition to being an Ann Arbor food “institution”, Zingerman’s reputation is well-known throughout the US and beyond.
Visiting Zingerman’s was on my own cheese “bucket list”… check…
Last summer in Madison, I was fortunate to attend an ACS seminar on “Inspiring Cheesemongers for life”; Ari Weinzweig, one of Zingerman’s founders, was on the panel. He is a terrific motivator and has written a series of books on building successful businesses and successful lives. You can order the books from amazon by clicking on the widget at the bottom of this post. After our visit, I purchased two of his books (and on my flight to NYC yesterday began reading “Zingerman’s Guide to Giving Great Service”) . I think working at Zingerman’s must be a dream job.
After tasting several cheeses, including Zingerman’s own Lincoln Log, a surface-ripening goat cheese and the ever-wonderful Bayley Hazen Blue from Jasper Hill Farm, we settled on Ascutney Mountain, a raw milk cheddar, and Great Lakes Cheshire, a “local” raw milk cheese made at Zingerman’s Creamery. We also bought a slice of their in-house Black Pepper Pate and a couple of their Black Magic Brownies which are made at their Bakehouse kind of across the street from the deli.
Ascutney Mountain (left above) is a raw milk Farmstead Alpine-style cheese made by Gail Holmes at Cobb Hill in Vermont. Cob Hill is an intentional co-housing community in Hartland, Vermont made up of people who want to leave a light footprint and live sustainably. The group bought the 260 acre farm in 1997 and began making two small-batch cheeses in 2000. In addition to Gail, there are two other cheesemakers at Cobb Hill and the farm has won numerous awards for Ascutney Mountain. It’s recipe is based on the classic Alpine Cheese, Appenzeller.
The rind is a slightly dusty natural rind with a buttery yellow paste. The wedge we bought was milky and creamy with a nutty finish; The Man swooned and rightfully so. This is one special cheese and I give it 4 Paws (in honor of Spaulding Gray, who only had 4 Paws to give…)
Great Lakes Cheshire has a crumbly paste and a full-bodied, milky flavor with a nice sweet finish. Zingerman’s Creamery makes this cheese from the raw milk of its small mixed breed herd. Another 4 Paws cheese winner.
Staying in a hotel prevented me from building a “pretty” cheese plate, but you don’t need that when you have great cheese and freshly made pate… Zingerman’s pate is flavorful and this one was filled with lots of black peppercorns; perfect pairing with these two cheeses. I toasted some bread and cut it up to hold the pate and cheese; like an open-faced bit of cheese heaven.
We ended with Zingerman’s Black Magic Brownies… a perfect Zingerman’s evening in a warm hotel with views of seventy inches of Detroit snow…
If you are anywhere near Ann Arbor… you MUST stop in and let the crew at Zingerman’s pamper you with cheese and other specialty foods. It’ll be one of your best cheese days ever…