Laurie Sanders-Polen knows some peculiar things about the eating habits of Puyallupites. They like cheddar cheese. A lot. And chevre, too. Buffalo mozzarella? That’s a big no thanks. Burrata was another that didn’t sell well with the locals. And what about stinky blues? “I thought there’d be more blue lovers,” said Sanders-Polen.
If Sanders-Polen has her way, local eaters soon will be spreading crusty baguettes with Italian butter and French butter flavored with sea salt. She’ll also introduce them to fig preserves, hand-made toffee and pungent cheeses from the far reaches of the world that cost as little as a few bucks for a small wedge at My Cheese Shoppe, which Sanders-Polen opened in downtown Puyallup in June.
Sanders-Polen is a self-proclaimed cheesemonger who never intended to sell cheese. She started her career as a receptionist at Peterson Cheeses, a specialty food distributor in Auburn. She held five positions there before going solo and opening her own cheese store. My Cheese Shoppe is just a small, walk-in space with a display case filled to maximum capacity with more than 75 kinds of cheeses. She also sells hand-made toffee and caramels from local candy makers, chocolates and a variety of other edibles. Someday, she intends to turn the business into a combination cheese shop and gourmet grilled cheese cafe.
I stopped in anonymously recently and Sanders-Polen plied me with cheese fodder and samples (and I didn’t even ask). She peppered me with questions: What kind of cheese did I like? Did I need the cheese for an event? What kind of food would I serve it with? I told her what I was after: Something creamy and full of flavor for a cheese plate at a party. I left carrying a small disc of soreda cabecou feuille, a goat cheese soaked in brandy and coated in cracked black peppercorns, all wrapped up in a pretty chestnut leaf secured with a wooden pick. It looked beautiful on the buffet table, and was a hit. I should have bought three. I noticed something different: Pricing at My Cheese Shoppe was by the wedge, not by the pound.
Interested in reading more? Check back Wednesday at www.thenewstribune.com/food for a feature about Sanders-Polen and her new cheese store in downtown Puyallup.
Here are a few things to know about her store:
Cheese: More than 75 cheeses sourced from Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Wisconsin and New York, as well as imports from Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Meats: Seven different kinds of salami.
Other sweets: Croatian fig spread, imported raw honey with orange blossom, date bread and walnut bread imported from Spain, dark chocolates, single origin dark chocolates, hand-crafted caramels from Vashon Island, artisan handcrafted toffee from Puyallup.
My Cheese Shoppe
Where: 202 S. Meridian, Puyallup
Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays. Currently closed Sundays-Mondays, but the store will begin holiday Sunday hours from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. beginning Nov. 6.
Grand opening: 1 p.m- 5 p.m. Nov. 6.