Sunday, March 2, 2008


America is a curious place. It is the world's largest, most developed market. No other country provides access to so many people with cash to buy your particular product.

Americans have traded their way to pre-eminence in purchasing. If you want something in the United States, someone will sell it to you. It's easy to slip here from truism to fallacy by assuming that because everything is available, everything is readily available. For example, although Americans have access to a huge variety of cheese, 90% of the cheese that is sold will be either American, Swiss or if you want something exotic, Monterey Jack.

However, New York is something a bit special. It seems that if you cram eight million Americans together tightly enough and sprinkle enough money around, they will open up shops selling everything. I work in Midtown Manhattan which is all office blocks. The ground floor of every office block and skyscraper is let to stores and sandwich bars. Even with two sandwich bars on every block, that's still a lot of shops. So after a bit of wandering, I have now discovered Murray's Cheese Shop. There is a market in Grand Central Terminal and in that market is a cheese stall that sells Cheddar, Stilton, Double Gloucestor, Wensleydale, Shropshire Blue, Lancashire and that is just the English cheese. They also have lots of French and Italian and other European cheeses. And they have as much again of American cheese with names like Black River Blue, Sartori Stravecchio and Pleasant Ridge Reserve.

If you take a wander to their web-site you will see that alongside Cheese of the Month (March is Formaggio di Fossa) and the monthly basket of cheese you can have delivered, they also have a university of Cheese. You can enroll in courses and attend lectures on the making and tasting of cheese. I may be feeling a little light-headed after a large portion of Shropshire Blue, but at the moment spending a few days of vacation at cheese school sounds like a fun idea.

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