March 13, 2014

Blu – A Wine & Cheese Stop is my new favorite place in Tucson!


Time passes, so I don’t recall when I became acquainted with Blu for the first time, but I think it was in late 2012. Somewhere, somehow, I heard about a virtual cheese shop that delivers. Wow! Cool!!!

With my first order I met Tana Fryer, delivery person, cheese monger, and co-owner with her wife, Kelly Fryer (the new Executive Director at the YWCA, a “going places” organization). Maybe “got in early” mattered, but in those early months a quick call resulted in cheese, pretty much on demand. Norma Lorge, Mesch, Clark & Rothschild’s receptionist extraordinaire, sees lots of people and things coming and going (including, now, dry cleaning), but I’m pretty sure my SarVecchio® and Fiscalini Bandage Wrapped Cheddar are among her most unusual arrivals, and when I’d leave money up front for cheese, her general sense of me was almost surely confirmed. (And Norma’s general sense of me is between Norma and me!)

Anyway, for a while I’d buy Blu when I could remember. Then the ladies opened a shop of sorts at Alfonso’s, an olive oil shop in St. Philip’s Plaza at Campbell and River. (More like a counter and fridge, really.) So, no more buying blind! Opportunities to see and taste lots of new cheeses, yet I don’t think I ever left without SarVecchio.

Now, Blu has counters at two Alfonso’s locations, along with its own shop at Mercado San Augustin, on Congress west of I-10, across the street from El Rio Health Center. Tastings, non-dairy products, and salads and sandwiches (which I have not yet tried); still, though, I always leave with some SarVecchio.

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So now you are wondering, what’s up with this SarVecchio stuff? Parmigiano-Reggiano is often called the King of Cheeses. It’s a very hard, salty, granular cheese, bearing almost no resemblance to almost any Parmesan cheese found here in the United States. Great for grating and nibbling, it’s definitely worthy of its moniker! For information on P-R, read The King of Cheeses:  Why Does It Taste So Good?

So, get to the point already you’re saying? SarVecchio is made by Sartori, a Wisconsin cheese maker based in Plymouth Wisconsin. It’s a very hard, granular cheese, and is as close to an American P-R as I’ve found. Not as salty as P-R, I don’t think, it’s more granular than the P-R I buy at Costco, and the granularity somehow captures moisture. So, when you taste it, you get some crunch, along with a pop of moisture. (Hard to describe, and I’m definitely not a food writing pro, but for me it’s better than Parmigiano-Reggiano. Way better!) Here’s a link to Sartori’s SarVecchio page, and here’s my picture of my wedge, taken in my home.

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Blu offers much, much more than SarVecchio, but it’s my favorite right now! Check Blu out at

And if you just happen to be in San Diego and forgot to packs your snacks for the trip? One of my regular stops in downtown San Diego has for years been Venissimo, a terrific cheese shop. (I used to stock up for home at Venissimo; no need any more on account of Blu, but it’s still a great place to visit, and has recently relocated from the East Village to The Headquarters at Seaport District, a new shopping and dining development adjacent to the Hyatt Regency in downtown San Diego. I’ll be reporting from there soon.)

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