This past weekend my friends and I finally made the trip to Ann Arbor to immerse ourselves in all things Zingerman.
After chowing down a few of their famous deli sandwiches, we headed to the Creamery (with a quick stop at the bakery and coffee roastery) to get a quick tour of their cheese-making facility with Michael Baptista, Retail and Wholesale Manager. Pastoral sells lots and lots of Lincoln Logs, Bridgewaters, and fresh Zingerman's cream cheese to our restaurant accounts, so it was fun to see where it all comes from.
Zingerman's pasteurizes their own milk, which allows them to do it more gently and at a lower temperature than many large dairies, which preserves the milk's flavor. We got to taste lots of Spring goat cheeses right at the source.
Sunday, after fortifying ourselves yet again with a meal from the deli, it was time to do some shopping at their fantastic cheese counter. Our cheese monger, Tom,
was delightfully enthusiastic and extremely revved up about the new seasonal cheeses he shared with us. We tried many lovely things, and I came home with some fresh mozzarella made that morning at the creamery, a raw milk talleggio, an Andante charolais, and some Thomasville tomme.
I loved tasting cheeses with someone who was so passionate, and it was great to taste cheeses that I know very well (like Cabot clothbound cheddar and Rogue River Blue) with someone new.
Zingerman's has recently switched to a very heavy duty cheese paper that is foil on one side and tissue on the other. I am keeping my purchases in this paper until I serve them next weekend (that is what our monger recommended) and I am anxious to see how they fare.
I got to chat with Ari, one of the owner/founders, in the cafe one morning, and his presence and his pride helped me understand why they are so successful.
Don't under any circumstances pass up a chance to visit Zingerman's in person. Their customer service alone is worth the 4 hour drive from Chicago. But you might want to grab a bite too, while you are there!
(Photos by Giuseppe Grigio)