In Central Arkansas, cheese lovers have a few options when hoping to explore the thrilling world of artisanal cheese. But perhaps no one is doing more to promote the name of cheese than the venerable Boulevard Bread, and one woman, in particular, is more well-versed in the caseus vernacular than any person on staff. Blair Graves is a woman who’s dedicated herself to the study of cheese, pouring countless hours and logging many miles in efforts to become an authority on the subject. As the leading force behind Boulevard’s extensive cheese case and importing efforts, I’ve had the privilege to get to know Graves a little better, and I’ve been able to pick her brain a bit on this, her favorite subject of discussion. And I’ve quickly realized that I have a lot more to learn about cheese.
Digging back to the bright, youthful age of 11, Graves recalls the exact moment that she fell in love with cheese. On a road trip to North Carolina, she and her family were visiting the home of American writer/poet, Carl Sandburg. Sandburg’s wife happened to raise dairy goats. Graves relates: “I remember petting the goats and my mother bought some of their cheese. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world that I was eating cheese from the goats that I’d just petted and loved the cheese. This was the beginning of my food geekdom.”