Music, in a Cheese Shop?

by Alifair Skebe

Why, yes!

An intimate concert this Monday, June 24, 7-9 pm featuring singer-songwriter Johann Wagner. 

Johann Wagner

When I asked the award-winning, Austin-based artist Johann Wagner to perform in concert at The Cheese Traveler on his national tour, he replied, “That would be cheesy.” We’re cheesy people, right?

We learned first-hand of the shop’s remarkable acoustics during our grand opening last November, featuring local singer-songwriters Mike Grosshandler and Tor Loney. Their folk-rock style music filled up the space and resonated powerfully with only a small amplifier. Local writer Phil Goode, who attended the grand opening, wrote a poem about listening to poetry here too, and he noted that the experience was surreal and unique. While we focus on the food side of things, we also seek to cultivate a sound environment and art space to highlight contemporary culture (no pun intended!) through music, poetry, and art. Kinda like Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown, NY, which has opened its lawn to contemporary musicians, we feature some fermentation as well as contemporary artists in a place that’s off-the-beaten path.

Come check out Austin-based musician Johann Wagner this Monday, June 24, 2013 from 7-9 pm. Tickets are $5-10. Call 518.443.0440 for more information. Seating is limited, so arrive early. If you like, you can bring your own chair. We will have light refreshments for sale during the show.

Johann Wagner

Austin-based musician Johann Wagner is “The number one best bet” by Austin American Statesman and a “Texas Folk Music Staple” by the Dallas Morning News. A child of Albuquerque, New Mexico and one-time park ranger of Joshua Tree National Park, Wagner weaves the landscape of the American Southwest into tangible and intimate progressive folk rhythms, and deeply emotive and lustrous lyrics. His performances are witty and upbeat as well as melancholic, balancing Wagner’s comical, lighthearted nature with his poetic side. His songs have been covered by musicians Gregory Alan Isakov, Victoria Williams, Bart Crow, Shannon Wurst, 3 Penny Acre, and countless others. A finalist in the Kerrville Songwriting Competition, his co-written “If I Go, I’m Goin” appeared in season four of Showtime’s television series “Californication.” He performs throughout the Southwest and is currently on national tour for his newest album “Disappear.”

“When I Find All of You”:

The Simple Meal Is a-Plenty

by Alifair Skebe

What do the Quebequoise poutine, chili cheese fries, and Albany’s Bomber’s “piggy fries” have in common?

Each boasts a gravy, a meat, and a cheese drenched over french-fried potatoes. Reach a fork into the mix to pull out a potato and a string of cheese clinging to the plate. The softened potato naturally pairs with a hot melted cheese and meat sauce. This is the beauty of such a meal. It’s so simple yet offers the flexibility of a variety of ingredients in each category. Which gravy? which meat? and which cheese?

The Quebequois have made an art of creating satisfying answers to these questions. Poutine is a national dish originating in the Quebec province of Chicoutimi in the 19th Century. And yes, Quebec takes the invention very seriously. There is an entire website devoted to the poutine: check out Poutineries can be found in every province with long menus of multiple combinations of cheese, meat, and gravy that comprise the dish, and fine restaurants feature their own exquisite variations. Eric and I discovered the wonders of the poutine in May 2010 in Montreal while looking for after-hours eats. We wandered into La Banquise to find what some consider the best poutinerie or the most “overrated” in Montreal. Suffice to say, we were hooked!

Montreal's Poutinerie La Banquise

Montreal’s Poutinerie La Banquise

Back in Albany, only four hours away from Montreal, the closest pub snack we could find to the poutine was Bomber’s “Piggy Fries,” which is a load of pulled pork, BBQ sauce and melted cheddar cheese over french fried potatoes. When Capital City Gastropub opened in our neighborhood, we were stunned by and quite happy with its “finer” version of the poutine drenched in duck gravy. Now the Gastropub features a number of poutines: one with mushrooms and another with foie gras! Check out their fall menu here.

Of course, we also like to make poutine fresh at home with our choice of yummy cheese and potatoes.

We at The Cheese Traveler have created a close second to the poutine: boiled and baked potatoes to cut down on the artery-clogging shot of cheese-meat-gravy and fried carcinogen.

So here ’tis:

Adirondack Blue Potatoes sprinkled in Challerhocker and a pat of Butter.

Challerhocker (which lingers around the cheese cave) is a flavorful addition to these boiled and baked potatoes.

Challerhocker (which translates as “one who lingers around the cheese cave”) is a flavorful addition to these boiled and baked potatoes.


10 small heritage Adirondack blue potatoes (thank you Farmer Jon and DJ Stacey!)
1 small onion
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup Challerhocker grated (or substitute any one of our good-melting Alpine cheeses)
A pat of butter
Salt and pepper to taste


Boil potatoes in salt. When soft, drain the potato broth to be used in any number of other dishes as a starchy stock for soups.

Mixing up the ingredients.

Mixing up the ingredients.

Place boiled potatoes on a flat baking pan or a big steel bowl as shown here. Mix them with other ingredients.

Putting the potatoes in the oven to melt the cheese...also making toasts from All Good Bakers rye bread. Very yummy together!

Putting the potatoes in the oven to melt the cheese…also making toasts from All Good Bakers rye bread. Very yummy together!

Bake for thirty minutes in a 350 degree oven or until all cheese is beautifully melted over the potatoes. Feel free to turn them once or twice to keep the potatoes coated in butter and cheese.

Store Opening at 540 Delaware, Albany NY (update)

The Cheese Traveler has begun its soft opening. The cheese case is fully stocked with traditionally-made, complex-tasting cheeses from the US, Europe, and UK. All cheeses are cut-to-order, and we sample everything in the case. This month we are celebrating “American Cheese Month.” Buy a passport for $10 and get 20% off the featured domestic cheese of the day. The meat coolers are well-stocked with fresh and frozen organic heritage breed beef and pork. All cuts are available. Dry goods are arriving everyday and we already have some in: fine pasta, polenta, paella rice, risotto, demi-glaze and sauces, jam, mustards, chutneys, sea salt, olive oils, and vinegars. There are many more to come: fine chocolates, sodas, honeys, crackers, biscuits, gluten-free items, olives, spices, and fleur-de-sel, local lamb and chicken. We will soon be a place to find all the finest ingredients and specialty items you need for cooking traditional and modern recipes.

Our mission is to bring the customer handcrafted items that are produced locally as well as around the world. We share a taste experience with you by bringing the flavor of the locality to you. You can have the taste of your travels or where you wish to travel to in your own home. Soon to arrive are pastas, honey, and olive oil from the smallest pasta producer in the Abruzzo region of Italy, famed for its pristine water and flavorful grain. The climate, protected by mountains on all sides, supports a rich flora unparalleled in the world. The producer uses traditions passed down and perfected over hundreds of years, and through a small operation is best able to control the practices of production, thereby crafting a superior product. The French fleur-de-sel, which will arrive this week, is collected by a single Brittany salt collector who collects salt and dries it on his roof. These are the practices and environs that capture the terroir.

Our store hours are flexible this week. We are completing the finishing touches on the store, and when we are in the store, we are open for business. Follow us on twitter and facebook for up-to-the-minute hours of operation.

The store is very easy to get to. It is a minute from the end of 787 in Albany and exit #23 off the Northway I87. It is between the intersections of Rt 443 and McAlpin and Rt 9W.

next to All Good Bakers, The Yoga Loft, Mingle, and Nicole’s Bistro

Link to Google Maps


Our Store at 540 Delaware (An Update)

Many supporters, eager customers, neighbors, and passersby have noticed The Cheese Traveler’s sign in the window since it went up at the beginning of May when we signed our lease. And many have wondered when we anticipate our opening date. We shall say that we have completed remodeling and are in the permit-securing phase.

The front door of 540 Delaware, home to The Cheese Traveler and Tilldale Farm Products

Eric, aka The Cheese Traveler, at Albany City Hall to apply for a Building Permit

To those who know us from our small operation at the Delmar and Deleware Avenue Farmer’s Markets, we are cheesemongers! That means that we sell cheese (see our post Cheesemongers, not Cheesemakers)

Mongers means “sellers”

The Cheese Traveler is a small, family-run cheese shop that sells local, farmstead and artisan fine cheeses. When we open at 540 Delaware, our product line will expand to a wider selection of farmstead and artisan cheese from the U.S., Canada, Europe, and British Isles and include fine charcuterie (cured meats like — artisan Prosciutto di Parma, Jamon Serrano, Jamon Iberico, salumi, and pate) and artisan specialty foods — crackers, mustards, jams, chutneys, olive oils, vinegars, chocolate and other confections, etc. We will also feature Tilldale Farm Products’ organic, grass-fed, heritage breed meat — Devon beef and Tamworth pork — poultry and eggs.

Since taking over the space at 540 Delaware, The Cheese Traveler and Tilldale Farm have added plumbing and refrigeration to support a world-class, cut-to-order cheese shop and fine food market. We refinished the poured concrete floor using sustainable soy and water-based products (this alone took two and a half months to do!) and gave everything a fresh coat of paint.

Bubba and Sissy brush-sanding the concrete floor to prepare the stain.

More sanding

Eric staining the floor.

Anticipate something like a Spanish or Italian-style grotto…

Of course now much of this floor you see here is covered by coolers and metro shelves. We are at least two weeks out from opening…possibly four depending on the city. Lastly, our logo is nearly finished and ready for signage.

In the meantime, please spread the word, keep up your interest, and visit us for local cheese at the markets. By the way, we are so excited to be next to our neighboring businesses All Good Bakers bakery and cafe (of the delicious new semifreddo) and Mingle, an upscale, asian-fusion, world cuisine by the same chefs who brought you Avenue A. For a taste experience, try the Flavors of Del-So Cheese Board featuring our cheese, All Good Bakers’ flatbread and your choice of beer or wine flight.  Spread the love!

TCT and Sunmark Grant: Public Voting Starts Today

Hi Cheese, Meat, and Farm and Foodies!

The Cheese Traveler has applied for a $1500 start up grant through Sunmark Federal Credit Union and All Over Albany. 2 of the 3 finalists are selected by voting on the All Over Albany website. For the love of cheese, please follow these links to vote for The Cheese Traveler, Tilldale Farm, and the new store on 540 Delaware Ave in DelSo, Albany.

The Cheese Traveler’s application

Where to Vote

Thank you for your support. We look forward to posting more details on the new store as they develop. Follow us on facebook.