Wisconsin native Sarah Petri saw a market for a cheese-focused eatery in South Florida when she was transferred here for a job. After doing her homework, which included visits to dairy farms and artisan cheese makers, she opened the Cheese Course in Weston 10 years ago. An investment group bought her concept two years ago and has grown the Cheese Course into a four-store chain with new links at the Village at Gulfstream Park and Midtown Miami.
This is the place to stock up on delicate goat cheeses, classic blues, sharp sheep's milk cheeses, aged Alpine types and buttery double creams. The European-style shop and café also offers cheese boards put together by region or flavors (mild, medium or strong) plus sandwiches and salads. The cheeses are organized by type -- fresh, bloomy rind, washed rind, marbled blue, semi-hard, hard -- all labeled as to origin and type of milk. The day I visited, cheese steward Whitney Johnson's daily tasting plate included a mild Wisconsin Buttermilk Blue with a tangy finish, fudgy Norwegian Gjetost made from caramelized goat's milk and Wisconsin Pleasant Ridge Reserve, a hard, washed-rind cheese with a full, nutty flavor.
Notable selections among the 150 cheeses includes Cocoa Cardona, a semi-firm goat cheese rubbed with cocoa powder; Chevre des Cremiers, a brie-style goat cheese, and aged farmstead Gouda with the flavors of roasted hazelnuts and caramel.
The shop shelves are filled with fromage-friendly wines, crackers, preserves, balsamic vinegars and pesto. Say cheese!