Vino adds regional European cheeses to successful formula
December 20, 2003
Steamboat Springs — Limited-release wines from small vintners and artisan cheeses from small, family-owned operations bring out the best in one another.
Now, Steamboat shoppers have a place to go where fine vintages and remarkable fromage converge.
Lisa Lesyshen and Michael Kirlan have moved their successful wine shop, Vino Fine Wines, to the newly remodeled Sundance at Fish Creek shopping center. In the new shop, their longstanding desire to complement wine with food has taken shape in the form of Vidalia Market.
“We’ve carried our philosophy in the wine store into our food store,” Lesyshen said. “We offer good value for the money. Whether it’s a $10 cabernet or a $40 cabernet, both are worth every dollar.”
When Lesyshen and Kirlan opened Vino, they were told Steamboat was too small for a specialty wine store.
They overcame that perception and are ready to take on the challenge of establishing the market for artisan foods.
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The cheeses at Vidalia market aren’t inexpensive, but they are exceptional.
“We believe that, as a community, we’re well-traveled,” Lesyshen said. “People who have traveled to Italy have sampled true parmegiano reggiano. They are more open to things that are different.”
The fun of coming into Vino and Vidalia Market, Lesyshen said, comes from choosing a wine to play against three distinct cheeses, or vice versa.
“This is what people will come in for,” Kirlan said. “It’s going to be really fun to do — cheese and wine pairings.”
He picks up a soft, triple cream cheese called brillat saverain from Burgundy and sets out looking for a crisp sauvignon blanc that won’t overwhelm it. His search concludes, figuratively, in the Loire Valley, where he has found two wines from villages on opposite sides of the river. They are the 2000 Sancere at $23 and 2002 Pouilly Fume bottled by Herve Seguin at $22.
“These are crisp, fresh whites,” Kirlan said, then picks up two more appropriate French wines in the $14 range.
Returning to Vidalia, Kirlan hefts a huge wedge of dark golden cheese. The roomano (that’s not a typo) is a s6-year-old Dutch gouda made with Italian starters. At $21 a pound, it’s a little pricey, but Kirlan emphasizes that a quarter-pound of three different cheeses is ample to serve appetizers for a dinner party of six.
Again, he is looking for a wine that won’t overpower the cheese, but this time he’s in search of reds. He steers away from some of the big, bold California cabernets on his shelves and heads for a moulin-a-vent burgundy whose soft fruit flavors will compliment rather than overpower the caramel finish of the cheese.
However, if it’s an undiscovered cabernet you seek, talk to Kirlan about the Karl Lawrence bottle that has become his best seller — at less than $60, it competes against some $100 bottles, he promises.
The team redeveloping the old Sundance Plaza shopping center into Sundance at Fish Creek sought Lesyshen and Kirlan out, they said.
“We didn’t have enough space in our downtown store to add food,” Lesyshen said. “Here, we have almost twice as much space for the same rent. And we have better parking. Already, we’ve had customers who were never in our store before come in just because of the availability of parking.”
In addition to aged British cheddars and other fine cheeses, Vidalia market offers a selection of imported gourmet food items.
Kirlan keeps a cooler stocked with hand-selected microbrews that are available by the bottle and rotate constantly.
The store also has a limited stock of the basics in hard spirits.
Lesyshen is realistic, and expects that with four new stores initially, the growing awareness of the Sundance at Fish Creek’s new image will come gradually.
Vino Fine Wines and Vidalia Market are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Vidalia only is open noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. For information, call 875-1183.