Say Cheese! The Story Behind Crisafulli's
Did you know that Cheddar cheese gets its name from the process of how it’s made? It’s true.
Cheesemakers cut and stack slabs of curd to help squeeze out the additional whey. This repetitive process is called “Cheddaring” the cheese, and it’s what helps give this particular cheese a dense, layered, and crumbly texture.
This is just one of the interesting facts we learned about cheese and cheesemaking during our visit to Crisafulli’s - a locally-owned artisanal cheese shop in Downtown Frederick.
Every Business Has a Story
The story behind Crisafulli’s begins with owner Sharon Crisafulli’s passion for great food. While working as a real estate agent, Sharon loved to explore unique foods and flavors on the side. In 2013 she started getting into artisan cheese, traveling to D.C., Virginia, and New York to find the cheeses that weren’t available anywhere else. When she realized the closest cut-to-order gourmet cheese shop to Frederick was in Alexandria, Virginia, she knew there was an opportunity to bring one of her passions back to her hometown.
As it turns out, having a mind for business runs in the family. When Sharon was ready to turn her vision into a reality, she went to her mom for advice and to become a partner. As a former flower shop owner in D.C., Betty Gardiner knew the ins and outs of running a successful business and had plenty of experience. After graduating college, Sharon’s daughter Caitlin joined the team making it a three-generation business. Crisafulli’s officially opened one month later in June 2015.
The team at Crisafulli’s knows a lot about cheese, and there’s a lot to know about cheese. So how do you become a cheese expert? In addition to trying and exploring as many flavors of cheese as possible, Caitlin Crisafulli has taken classes, attended “Cheese Camps” in Jasper Hill, Vermont, and recently became an American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional.
“[Cheese Camp] is as fun as it sounds. Especially if you’re a cheese nerd. It’s 3 days of intensive learning and eating a lot of cheese.” - Caitlin
Crisafulli’s imports their cheese from all over the world and is always looking for new varieties and flavors. They offer at least 20-30 staple cheeses that are always available in the shop and rotate in seasonal varieties and unique flavors as they become available. Many are only available during certain times of the year because they depend on select ingredients that are rare or limited. For example, Vacherin Mont d’Or is only available from October to April because it’s made with the winter milk of cows in a specific region of Switzerland. And in the spring they will have more goat’s milk cheeses because that’s when the goats start lactating again.
Don’t be Scared of Cheese
If we learned anything from Caitlin and the team at Crisafulli’s it’s that cheese doesn’t have to be intimidating - and even if you aren’t a cheese-fanatic, there’s probably something you’ll like. There are at least 7 major styles of cheese - including fresh, bloomy, washed rind, semi-soft, firm, hard, and blue. Depending on your preferences or your recipe they can recommend the right cheese for you.
“The interesting thing about cheese is all the varieties start with the same 4 ingredients. There are endless possibilities and products available from just milk, salt, rennet...and cultures.”
And the varieties are truly endless. There are cheeses that are flavored with blueberry, cranberry, or mango and ginger, cheeses that have been washed in wine or balsamic, ones that are coated with Alp blossoms, and even vegetarian cheeses.
“I always tell people my favorite cheese depends on the day. But if I had to pick one, I’d say Foxglove. It’s a wash-rind cheese that has a beautiful orange rind. It’s washed in beer and when you cut into it just oozes out - it’s funky, it’s beefy, it smells like stinky feet, and it’s just amazing. Actually for Valentine’s Day my fiance got me a case of it because I was having a hard time finding it.” -Caitlin
Don’t feel overwhelmed by the choices and types of cheese. Sharon told us, “Sometimes it’s just too much. It just tastes good. That’s all.”
To keep all the cheese ready the team at Crisafulli’s has to be a part cheesemonger and part cheese caretaker. They check the cheese case, clean the cheese, keep it stored properly, and make sure it’s all fresh and ready to be enjoyed.
All the Cheese Colby Yours
You can find Crisafulli’s Cheese Shop at 8 E 2nd Street #104 in Downtown Frederick. They sell cheese by the pound (you can get as little as a quarter pound), sandwiches, charcuterie, specialty jams and jellies, wine and more.
“We’re happy to give you a taste and tell you more. If there’s something, in particular, you’re looking for, let us know. If you need a recommendation, that’s what we’re here for.” -Caitlin
Crisafulli’s can also help coordinate cheese tastings, events, wine pairings, and special collaborations with businesses like Flying Dog and White Rabbit. They also coordinate a monthly cheese subscription service. And if you’re a regular, they can even anticipate which new cheeses will delight you.
Say Hello to the FCB MoneyMaker
FCB and Crisafulli’s have teamed up to CollaborEAT! Say hello to the FCB MoneyMaker - a toasted Ciabatta with ham, buttery brie, and sour cherry spread. With every MoneyMaker sold we’re making a donation to Spinners Pinball.
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Come say hello to Frederick County Bank! We’d love to hear about your business or personal goals and your favorite local spots.