Every family has its holiday traditions – places they go, things they do, the foods they eat. Since moving back to Maine in 1997 we have always had Christmas Eve at home and, for the last few years, have made a point of having special cheeses, pâtés or smoked seafood, breads, fruit and something festive to drink (some kind of sparkler for the girls, and either a nice wine or a seasonal ale for us). Though the Portland Public Market closed a couple of years ago there are still a few places to go for specialty food items – Freeport Cheese and Wine, Browne Trading Company, Public Market House (where some of the former public market’s vendors went), and The Cheese Iron to name some within a reasonable distance.
I’d heard about The Cheese Iron from a friend, read about it in the paper, and visited the web site, but hadn’t been there yet. Partly to finish my Christmas shopping, partly to find things for Christmas Eve, our youngest and I made our way there and were not disappointed. Vincent, one of the owners, was very friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. He insisted we try before buying (what a sacrifice!) the Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Bayley Hazen Blue, and the pâté de campagne before wrapping some up for us. With a range of products similar to Freeport Cheese and Wine, but with more emphasis on cheese (hence the name, I guess), and the service, I think we’ll be visiting The Cheese Iron again.