If you're looking for the best local and international cheeses in Chicago, then Pastoral is the place. In fact aside from just an artisanal neighborhood cheese shop, Pastoral is also an amazing wine store, with the layout of the wines in line with the cheeses they compliment, full body wines are across from the aged cheddars and parmesans, medium wines are across from the semi-soft cheeses and light body are across from the young fresh cheeses. On top of all this, add a genuine Midwestern friendliness that takes the snobbishness out of fine cheese, and Pastoral accomplishes what it set out to be, an artisanal neighborhood cheese shop. In November, Pastoral was recognized as a nominee for a Luxist Awards Readers' Choice Award for Best Gourmet Cheese shop.
As with any specialty cheese store, Pastoral has the staples in big name and international cheese, such as Cypress Grove's Humboldt Fog of Arcata, California, Neal's Yard Dairy Cheddars from Britain, and Bucheron from the Loire Valley, France. What truly sets Pastoral apart is the amazing selection of Midwestern cheese. Local farmstead cheese highlights include Prairie Fruit Farms' goat cheese in Champaign, Illinois, Capriole goat cheese from Southern Indiana, and Marieke's Gouda from Thorp, Wisconsin to name a few. Pastoral's relationship with some of these farms is so close that employees from the store will sometimes double as employees representing the farms at Chicago's Green City Market. Aside from selling to the public, Pastoral also supplies top Chicago restaurants such as, avec, Blackbird, The Publican and Perennial with their artisanal cheeses.
In addition to cultivating its strong Midwestern roots, Pastoral aims to educate Chicagoans by offering a comprehensive schedule of classes every season. Topics range from the basic "Cheese 101" to the more specific "Celtic in Spirit – Cheese, Beers and Spirits of the British Isles and Beyond" and "Bubbles and Cheese," a class focusing on pairing champagne, cava and prosecco with cheese. Although the staff is fully knowledgeable in both cheese and wine, the shop does have its own resident sommelier so you can be sure the wines, as well as the cheeses, are top notch.
Lakeview: 2945 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657
Loop: 53 E Lake Street, Chicago, IL 60601Chicago French Market: 131 N Clinton, Chicago, IL 60661
This post was contributed via Seed.com, AOL's new platform for freelance writers.