When Paula Labarre recalls her early days working with cheese she does so with a laugh and a smile. “the first time I had to place my cheese order I had to spell the cheeses because I didn’t know how to pronounce them”. Fast forward fifteen years and one cheese shop later, and Labaree, along with her business partner Lisa Vuono, have created The Cheese Corner, a rustic & welcoming space located at 137 Main Street here in Westerly.
As a former co-owner of a cheese shop located in Jamestown, RI, Labarre spent ten years cultivating her love of cheese. The cheeses selected for The Cheese Corner are cheeses that Labarre knows and loves. Cheeses that she is very familiar with and is comfortable selling and educating customers about. She is also happy to take requests. She has already had a few requests and has successfully located the cheeses being sought out.
Offering hard and soft cheeses from around the world, The Cheese Corner will also be corresponding wine and cheese tastings with Dick’s World of Wines. Because of the physical proximity and personal connection (Vuono is one of three in her family who own Dick’s), they will also be able to educate their customers with which wines each cheese will pair well with.
The Cheese Corner will offer cow, sheep and goat’s milk cheeses focusing on smaller artisan producers that you can’t just grab at the local markets. While they will have all your favorite varieties, they will most likely have some brands you have not heard of. When asked about her favorite cheese in the shop Labarre says “that’s a hard one. I’d have to say right now my favorite is called Harbison, it comes from the cellars at Jasper Hill in Vermont. It is cradled in spruce bark with a subtle pine forest-y flavor, it is oozy and floral, with near liquid paste. You can eat it with a spoon, but I put it on a slice of bread or pear.”
Also offering olives, nuts and cured meats, The Cheese Corner is the perfect place to stop in and grab a few things for a picnic in the park or a nightly dinner on the beach. We love that they are carrying local products such as Farm True Ghee and Capizzano Olive Oil. Vuono says that working with other small businesses in town is something we should all be doing to foster relationships that build on that shop small philosophy rather than competing against each other. Most of the fixtures come from The Johnny Cake Center or the Blue Mitten and have been beautifully repurposed for the space. Vuono had a strong vision of what she wanted the space to look like. It is warm and inviting. The original wooden beams and the chosen color scheme give hints of being in a loft or old warehouse. Also for sale are her gorgeous hand made baskets which, we have a feeling, will sell out pretty quickly.
With cheeses being sold by weight and cut to order, Labarre suggests that customers come in and taste the cheeses that they have to offer. Then they can purchase as much or as little as they like. This is a great opportunity to become more familiar with cheese and create a really interesting cheese board. The Cheese Corner will also be offering platters. No need to be intimidated when you walk in, the lovely cheese case has gorgeous labels that tell the type of cheese (cow, sheep or goat), the country of origin, the name and the price per quarter pound.
Both Labaree and Vuono are just wonderful to speak with and are so willing to share information and help you find just what you are looking for. They are open from 10-6 Tuesday through Thursday this week and will be having a grand opening this weekend with hours Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10-6. Stop in and see what they have to offer- you’ll be so glad you did!