Spotlight on St. James

Meet the cheese shop in New Orleans making waves during Mardi Gras

St. James Cheese Company (photo from premiumparking.com)

At Murray’s, we’re constantly in awe of our fellow cheese shops and producers, like St. James Cheese Company in New Orleans. With two locations in the Crescent City, this local favorite has been bringing quality cheese and charcuterie to the South since 2006. We talked with Emily “Cree” Tear, the General Manager of the original uptown location, and her counterpart Brad Dashbach, the GM of the downtown location, for the inside scoop on how they prepare for the overwhelming indulgence of Mardi Gras.

How long have you worked at St. James?

Cree has been here a little over two years, and Brad has worked here for four years.

What do you love most about cheese?

Cree: For me, cheese never ceases to amaze me–it’s incredible how often people are come into the shop and get so excited when they walk in the door. It’s like any good party, or a Mardi Gras party. You hopefully leave with romance and a story and a smile on your face. I love gathering people together, and wherever there’s cheese, people tend to gather.

I’m from the country, I’m a country girl at heart, so I’m honored to put people in touch with terroir, especially people in the city, and to be able to represent some of the craft of the hardest-working people here in the U.S. and in other countries.

The St James Cheese Co in New Orleans (Photo by Kyle Petrozza)

What makes a good pairing?

A little bit of everything, some crunch, and balance–you don’t want anything to overshadow any part of the bite. You want something that is well-balanced and has a good finish. Plus, mixing sweet and savory is always nice.

What is Mardi Gras all about? 

Indulgence. In every sense of the word–trying new things, going a little overboard with eating and drinking, doing everything you can possibly do. Even though the holiday is stretched out over a month, before you know it, it’s Mardia Gras, and the city is illuminated and it’s incredible–it’s intoxicating, the joy of this place and what Mardi Gras can bring out of you. But it’s important to remember that it’s a marathon not a sprint, so it’s necessary to try and do things in moderation.

St. James Cheese Company’s original bite

In honor of Murray’s Monger Madness, we asked Cree and Brad to create a bite for us, and they dreamed up a creamy blend of Ewephoria drizzled with some Mike’s Hot Honey for a kick of spice and a bit of bright lemon curd, all piled onto a hearty raincoast crisp cracker.

What was your inspiration for this bite?

We chose Ewephoria mostly because of its name. The season of Carnival does have a euphoric feeling, but it’s necessary to create balance with hearty things, which is why we chose the raincoast crisp. The bite has a nice balance of sweet and savory, and then a little spice on top with the honey—it is the South and we like to spice things up. We then added a bit of tangy citrus to cut the heat.

Ewephoria Sheep’s Milk Gouda

How do you bring cheese into Mardi Gras?

It’s great for parties, obviously. During the lead-up to Mardi Gras, we’ve been slammed with platters and orders, and we get a kick out of putting together something fun for a party and getting to put our own touch on it.

A selection of St. James cheeses (photo from stjamescheese.com)

Cheese is also a super easy parade snack—grab a crunchy baguette and dip it into some triple creme, which is in line with the theme of indulgence, and allowing yourself to eat and do whatever you want. And of course, the sustenance of a snack like that is a huge thing to remember when you’re on the parade route, and a great thing to share with people.

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