A family-owned cheese and charcuterie shop that opened seven years ago in Scotts Corners, N.Y. is moving this spring to downtown New Canaan.
Plum Plums Cheese, which also sells a wide range of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and other foods (such as all-natural jams and organic olive oils), and artisan gifts is to open in April at 149 Cherry St.
Gayle Martin, who launched Plum Plums Cheese in 2014 with her husband Michael Riahi after the two met while working in the wine business, said it made sense when they couldn’t come to terms with a new landlord in Pound Ridge to move to New Canaan, in part because many of their customers are from here.
Martin said that she used to visit her sister in Bedford, N.Y., before moving up with Riahi 17 years ago, and “I remembered always that New Canaan was a very special town.”
“It was a real New England town, I still believe that,” she said. “It’s a beautiful town and I think the neighborhood camaraderie and to see things like the Halloween scarecrows and stuff on the lampposts, and the beautiful lights on the street lamps for the holidays, it has a great sense of community, and I love that. And I know that a lot of downtowns have been suffering, and have been hit especially with COVID, and hopefully things will come back and with the support of our customers and the neighborhood we will all persevere.”
Plum Plums Cheese carries more than 60 choices of styles “that evolve with seasonal changes, ranging from soft and fresh to aged Alpines and Goudas, always cut to order and always in their prime,” according to its website.
The name ‘Plum Plums Cheese’ comes from a line in the “The English Patient,” Martin said. (According to IMDB, Almásy at one point says to Hannah, “It is a very plum plum.”)
The Plum Plums Cheese grilled cheese menu includes “The Dutch Master” (Prima Donna Gouda, Carmelized Onion Chutney), “Twice as Nice” (Prairie Breeze Cheddar, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Bonnie’s Apricot Orange Jam), “The Mountain Goat” (Bethmale Pyrenees Goat Cheese, Provencal Mustard), “You Say Ole” (Manchego Reserva, Chorizo Iberico de Bellota, Bonnie’s Peach Ginger Jam), “The Caveman” Cave Aged Gruyere, Prosciutto di San Daniele, Fallot Tarragon Mustard and “Chocolate Surprise” (Piave del Saporo & Mast Brothers Chocolate).
Plum Plums Cheese hand-slices “premium charcuterie, including regional epicurean delicacies such as Jamon Iberico, Prosciutto di San Daniele and Salumi Artisan Cured Meats from Seattle, Washington,” according to the website.
Asked what New Canaanites should know about Plum Plums Cheese, Martin said it has “come to be an experience for people.”
“It’s a destination,” she said. “What we strive to do is provide our customers with extraordinary products that are unique and beautifully presented and delicious. We are here to really provide a wonderful experience and promote good eating. Promote artisanal producers, farms-to-cheese-makers and provide expertise. I am a certified cheese professional. I take it seriously and I want to support all of these farmstead cheesemakers and artisan cheese producers and do it in such a way that is a wonderful experience. Part of the joy for me is watching customers’ kids grow up and people get engaged and have their own kids, it’s great neighborhood place to come and so that is what we want to re-create in New Canaan. What we started in Pound Ridge we want to re-create in New Canaan. We want people to come in and have fun.”
Martin said Plum Plums Cheese has continued to offer its cheese classes via Zoom during the pandemic. On-site classes in the past have included “Beer and Cheese,” “Focus on France” and “Just for Kids: Cheese 101,” according to the shop’s website.
The commercial space on Cherry where Plum Plums Cheese is moving in years past housed Goldenberry, which now is located on Elm Street.
The business on Jan. 26 filed a building permit application with the town that calls for an estimated $15,000 of work to the approximately 1,000-square-foot space, including a new exhaust fan, plumbing for two new sinks and additional electrical outlets.
Martin said the space “just spoke to us” when she and Riahi saw it.
“It just has personality and we love the fact that it has got the space, the ceiling height, the parking, a little bit of everything—and most importantly, a real gentlemen for a landlord,” she said.
Regarding their original and longtime space in Pound Ridge, she said, “It’s very unfortunate that we have to give it up.”
“But like I said, I have been telling all of my customers, with challenges come opportunities, and this is our opportunity.”