Plum Plum’s Taste Transformation

above: Plum Plums’ fondue is a classic three-cheese blend. It’s served with a variety of crusty breads, roasted vegetables and high-quality meats from Brooklyn’s Dellapietra’s Butcher.

Photography by Venera Alexandrova

Since taking over Plum Plums Cheese last fall, owners Jo and Stephen Bloom have spent time listening to and learning from the shop’s loyal customers. Many of Plum Plums’ clientele have been frequenting the shop since it was established in Pound Ridge back in 2014. “We didn’t want to come in and make major changes right away,” explains Jo, referring to the successful business they had taken over after the retirement of original owners Gale Martin and husband Michael Riahi. “We listened to customers to see what they liked.” The couple is now starting to put their own stamp on the business while making sure to keep the things that made Plum Plums so popular to begin with.

Owner Jo Bloom (left) and her husband Stephen started the Fondue Dinners to enourage the sense of community that exists among Plum Plums’ customers.

One thing that stood out to Jo while she worked the counter during the ownership transition was the sense of community at the shop. Customers loved to talk cheese and she wanted to encourage that engagement, so they came up with the idea of holding after-hours events. “We started with a fondue dinner,” Jo says. “Because they are such a communal thing.”

The dinner begins with a classic cheese fondue that Jo calls the Plum Plums Mix—a combination of extra-aged swiss gruyere, Challerhocker raw milk swiss and Whitney raw cow’s milk. It is served with an array of roasted vegetables, crusty breads and a delicious selection of gourmet, dry-aged meats from Brooklyn’s famous Dellapietra’s butcher shop.

If you’re like me and think there can be nothing better than bread dipped in melted cheese, I have news for you … you need to try filet mignon dipped in melted cheese! The second course is a chocoholic’s delight—Belgian dark chocolate and Kahlúa fondue served with fresh fruits and a variety of sweet treats, like cubed waffles and croissants.

The first Fondue Dinner sold out almost as soon as it was announced. “Twelve people came, and nobody knew each other,” says Jo, happily adding that they all left as friends. It was such a success, Plum Plums plans to host monthly after-hours dining events. They also offer private events and are considering tastings for the littlest connoisseurs. As the mother of two young children (a third will arrive before press time), Jo knows the power of a good grilled cheese and says their revitalized lunch menu will include more family-friendly options.

With all these new offerings, Plum Plums devotees will also be excited to hear about the return of the Monthly Cheese Club. Seasonal or themed boxes contain three artisan cheeses from around the world (accompanied by information about how the cheeses were made) and special Plum Plums pantry items.

It is important to note that one thing has remained unchanged, and that is Plum Plums’ knowledgeable chef Casey Beland, who came to the shop five years ago. Having served as executive chef at Whole Foods and Walter Stewarts Market, Beland was looking for a more predictable 9-to-5 schedule when he landed at the original Plum Plums in Pound Ridge. As Jo jokes, he is such an important part of the business that “the sale was contingent on Casey staying.”

Beland enjoys working with the Blooms to select the 70 to 90 cheeses they have available at any given time, the specialty meats and the many pantry items they stock. Fan favorites are always in stock, but the trio also likes to introduce items from local artisans. “We aim to source the best of what’s around,” Casey says. “We want to be the single stop for people who want to bring these gourmet items into their home.”

Perhaps the one change customers may take some getting used to as the Blooms make this business their own is an upcoming name change. Plum Plums will soon become Cherry Street Cheese & Provisions, which Jo says “is a nod to our New Canaan roots and broader foodie offerings.” But have no fear, turophiles, the most important parts of the Plum Plums community will continue on.

The chocolate fondue is a delicious combination of Belgian dark chocolate and Kahlúa. It’s servied with fresh fruits and other sweet treats.

 

 

 

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