Recession can’t keep a good cheese shop down

Bob Howald and his wife, Kristin Sande, opened their wonderful food and wine shop in 2006; to note their timing was less than impeccable would be classic understatement.

But thanks to loyal clientele and their unrelenting customer service, they have ridden out the recession, to the delight of foodies like me. On a last visit, I even heard Howald tell a customer, “ask, and I’ll come to your house and wash your car.” That goes well beyond a party tray.

After all, if they close, where would I go to get my fix of Cream-Nut Peanut Butter, McClure’s Pickles, Blanxart Chocolate with Hazelnuts from Spain, or any of the more than 200 boutique cheeses that Howald stocks? Charles DeGaulle famously said “it is impossible to govern a country with 200 cheeses”. Ditto, I’d guess, for a gourmet food store.

But the couple manages. They moved here from Minneapolis, where both were in the fancy food business. Howald, a former chef and wine importer originally from St. Louis, worked for a company called Great Ciao, while his wife was, for many years, at Whole Foods Markets.

For more of Max Jacobson’s thoughts on Valley Cheese and Wine, follow him at UnicaWorld.