I had the opportunity to attend the opening ‘cutting of the cheese’ ceremony of the Fresh Market grocery store in Bedminster, NJ. They had a ceremonial crack of the wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese.
I was very excited when I found out I had the chance to attend this occasion, I had breakfast made fresh in the store and got to see this uncommon ceremony. For those of you that do not know what the Fresh Market is about or what it even is, it is a Market or Grocery store. This market started in Greensborough, NC in 1982. They go with the concept of having everything fresh, have the experience of the customer be more than a chore and to be an experience of relaxation and enjoyment. To share the smells of the fresh made breads and food, and hear classical music surrounded by a warm and friendly environment. The products are all high quality, and not high price like some other markets. You can find a variety of items, common and uncommon all under one roof. This market is the second in New Jersey, and the 151st store in the United States.
Pulling up to the store, I was so excited! The outside is beautiful and so welcoming; I walked right in and walked to the welcome table. They handed us our complimentary reusable shopping bag, jelly beans, and a bag of their coffee. The bags are really nice, thick and durable and the coffee was delicious! The breakfast that we went to included fresh made products from the store. We had some fruit and breads, the breads included pumpkin bread, banana nut bread, and date nut type bread. They were absolutely delicious and tasted homemade. On the same table there was Orange Juice, it also tasted so fresh.
There was a hot food station with two chefs. They were cooking bacon and French toast with maple syrup. This was also so good; they gave us little slices of the French toast so we could dip it in the syrup. Finally, they had a few coffee samples to try, I tried the one and it was pretty good, especially since I do not drink coffee.
I walked around the store a bit and was shocked to see all that they offer. They have a candy bar, fresh nuts and dried fruits and vegetables that you can serve yourself, and coffee section. You can grind your own peanuts and almonds, and get fresh made sushi. There is fresh made breads, and fresh packaged spices. The desert section was also great, with tons of choices.
We got to sample the Apple Pie; this pie tasted homemade and was outstanding.
There is also a whole cheese counter with every type of cheese I know of, over 200 to be exact. They had a meat and seafood as well as cold cut counters. We also got to taste some samples and walk around and get to know the store
One of the things I really liked about this health market is that it included products of organic and ‘healthy’ companies as well as the companies your find at your local grocery store. It is a one stop shopping place with a really warm and elegant feeling. There were wood floors and beautiful signs, and the workers were outstanding. All the workers were willing to help and very knowledgeable of everything in the store.
I found out that all the meat is also fresh, whatever is not sold that day is froze and then either sold to restaurants or donated to the Food Bank Network of Somerset County.
The cutting of the crack of the wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese started with the Regional director of operations in the North east, Sandy Glatter, speaking. She explained about the store and how they have great customer service and dedicated workers to help your experience. They also have samples for the opening so the customers can try some of what they offer. She introduced Ben Burton, the store Manager. Everyone was fabulous there!
This was an awesome thing to witness, Sandy Glatter explained how it is a time honored tradition and it is ‘cracked’ using five tools. This specific wheel of cheese weighed about 86 pounds. She also said how it can take up to 24 months to be made and for it to be ready to sell. It starts with 150 gallons of milk and they age it around 12 months, check it if it is the right cheese. Then they let it sit again until it gets the seal of approval. We got to sample and take part in eating a slice of this tradition, and the cheese was delicious!
I am so happy I could experience this, and now I have a new store to go to. It is a bit of a distance away from my home, but it is worth it to drive there for all the selections and good tasting food. I am so excited to incorporate my holiday cooking with this store, it gives me so many more fresh options and help from the staff!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjKCk5IMZ7E&feature=youtu.be (my video- sound is not the best)