Pensacola, Florida
Saturday October 25th 2014

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The Simple Joys of Cheese

Pensacola Finally Earns a Gourmet Cheese Shop
by Ashley Hardaway

Simplicity: “doing one thing and doing it well.” Call it what you will, but that notion seems to have been on the outs lately.

Television shows combine personality disorders with home makeovers, and national news coverage has turned into a continuous hyperbolized onslaught of terrorists, baby snatchers and E. coli-laced spinach.

Being a “dancer” or a “collector of stamps” evidently is no longer enough as people seem all too eager to describe themselves as actors in Hollywood would—“athletically built, ‘cool’ dad, with a midlands accent and rock climbing abilities.”

Blame it on Facebook, blame it on the iPhone, but I blame it on menus.

Sometime in the early 2000s, when Americans felt the first (of what would be many) brushes of a strapped economy, they started becoming picky about where they went to eat. They wanted value and variety. They wanted to go somewhere where everyone could get something they wanted—thus, restaurants started offering everything. Mexican tapas and Italian pastries? Done. Pizza and sushi? Why not? Even trendy chefs got into it like Guy Fieri, who opened up his barbecue and sushi joint in Sacramento.

So when I received the press release regarding the newest addition to our (thankfully) ever-growing downtown, I was surprised and gleeful to the point that I probably will be its first customer.

What is it, you ask, that has me in such a tizzy? A laser arcade with an attached hibachi bar? An indie movie theatre that shows Fellini films and serves German bratwurst? Nope—it’s a wine bar.

This wine bar, aptly named The Wine Bar, is the second foray into Pensacola’s wine market by Ian Kaple, Richard Montgomery, and Chan Cox, and the ninth Wine World store in the region. Their Wine World Retail Outlet by Cordova Mall is already a hit with wine connoisseurs who like to indulge in their hobby but still make their rent.

Their new store, located a few doors up from The Leisure Club, will offer over 300 wines by the bottle, 40 by the glass and eight craft beers on tap. They’ll also have house-made soups, pressed sandwiches, small plates and over 50 varieties of cheeses.

General manager Mari Josephs, former executive chef at 600 South, explained that what sets their shop apart is that all of their 50-plus cheeses are ordered by the wheel, which they then cut fresh for sandwiches, custom-made platters, or for waiting eager customers.

They’ll be offering cheeses mostly from Europe, and will carry a variety from Switzerland, Spain, France, Italy and Holland. They’ll also be carrying popular domestic favorites. Picky food eaters can indulge as well, as they’ll “cover the gambit—hard to soft, crumbly to firm, pungent to mild—we’re trying to provide a variety of choices that will cater to everybody’s individual liking.”

It’s such a simple thing, cheese and bread, and yet it can slow people down, get them to stop talking and experience something together. With “going out” becoming an increasing luxury, it’s nice to think that such a rich time can be had while indulging in one of life’s simplest meals: bread and cheese.

Look for The Wine Bar to open up later this month at 16 Palafox Place.
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