I can’t seem to get myself out of Cape May these days and why should I when just about everything I could ever need or want in terms of culinary delights is right at my fingertips. Award winning restaurants, great wines, coffee, beer, and now cheese. Husband and wife team Steve and Barbara White opened Seaside Cheese Company in West Cape May five years ago when Steve (a lifelong culinarian who honed his chops at the Peter Shields Inn and the Pilot House) wanted to open up a restaurant of his own. Barbara very lovingly nixed that idea and so Steve moved forward with Plan B, a gourmet cheese shop.
On the day of the interview I showed up at 9AM. Steve looked a little startled; later, he would confess that he forgot I was coming. On this morning, Seaside Cheese had nearly 480 different cheeses currently rotating through its inventory, along with an impressive collection of pâte and salamis – all designed to help you create a mouth-watering cheese plate. Chances are, if you have taken a respite at such fine establishments like the Albert Stevens Inn or the Queen Victoria than you’ve had some of Seaside’s cheese. Not only is Seaside’s collection the largest that you will find in the area but also decidedly less expensive than those you will find in your local supermarket. About 90% of the cheeses are imported; the rest are a few domestic picks from Wisconsin. Recognizing the current trend of artisanal-made foods, Seaside did carry a few locally produced cheeses for a time, but that company has since folded. Not to be discouraged, Steve has decided to work on producing his own line of artisan cheese. Right now he’s perfecting his ricotta and even hopes to get a lovely aged cheddar going. Seaside also has a wonderful partnership with Hawk Haven Wines, which are also sold in the store. This partnership has enabled Seaside to offer private cheese and wine tastings on the premises. When I asked Steve about wine and cheese pairings, he simply stated “If you like the wine then you’ll like the cheese”. It doesn’t get much easier than that. In addition to the cheese, the wine, and the pâte, Seaside Cheese carries local honey and jams (Big Bad Dad’s is a popular brand), imported olive oils and hand painted ceramic pieces and greeting cards designed by his wife Barbara.
Seaside Cheese clearly has everything you could want and expect from a ‘gourmet’ cheese shop. I could happily spend hours tasting and discovering new favorites. I wouldn’t change a thing about them, and many would agree. Seaside Cheese has been featured in Philadelphia Magazine, The Press of Atlantic City, New Jersey and Baltimore magazines. But I did discover that Steve has a few more ideas up his sleeve. When I asked him where he saw the company going in the next five years, he replied that he’d like to be the next DiBruno Brothers (a 73 year-old Philadelphia-based family business that specializes in gourmet cheeses and antipasti). The Seaside Cheese shop itself has physically expanded its space three times in the past five years now, with a seating area designed for visitors that want to sit a spell for a quick bite. Seaside Cheese is currently building a lunchtime menu with a host of flavorful paninis. At the time of my visit, the best seller was the “SoJo Pananny”: goat cheese, roasted red onion and tomato jam. I should also mention that they have some of the best mac and cheese around.
So the next time you’re looking to try something different for that dinner party, summer picnic, or weeknight mac and cheese look no further than Seaside Cheese Company.
Seaside Cheese Company – 600 Park Boulevard, West Cape May. 609.884.8700.