I’m not sure how it happens, but sometimes a weekend comes and goes and I neglect to visit my local cheese shop. And then Monday morning arrives in all its rainy dreariness and I realize I’m without a cheese for the week and both of the cheesemongers in my town are closed for the day. Fortunately, yet another new gourmet shop has opened in Old Town, Alexandria (VA), to help fill the gap. “The Butcher’s Block, A Market by RW” at the newly-opened Lorien Hotel is essentially the kitchen pantry of Chef Robert Wiedmaier, who expands his DC restuarant empire (Brasserie Beck, Marcel’s) with Brabo and Brabo Tasting Room here at the Lorien. In addition to wine, beer and gourmet goodies like salts, chocolates, olives, nuts, etc., the shop offers sandwiches, sauces and stocks, charcuterie and fresh meat – pork belly! – and a small collection of fine cheeses. The cheeses tilted towards a European selection, and I was able to find a Mahon Curado that I’ve enjoyed in the past but have not yet officially reviewed here. A carton of fresh Lucques olives and bottle of wine rounded out the purchase. (I have to confess I didn’t think too hard about the wine selection; Brabo’s Chef de Cuisine Chris Watson was pouring complementary glasses to entice shoppers to linger – quite successfully – and its summer-ready flavor were an easy sell on those of us hiding out from the rain and thinking of warmer weather.) 

Mahon Curado is an aged, raw cows-milk cheese from Menorca, Spain. The semi-firm cheese is coated in paprika and olive oil before aging, imparting a rich, nutty flavor with a hint of smoke. The wine I purchased, Velt.1 2007 Gruner Veltliner of Austria, is a crisp summer white with a lovely yellow-green hue. Its bright, acidic taste was a nice match with the sweet Mahon. And of course, few things go better with Spanish cheeses than olives and pork products; in this case, a “prosciutto-style” ham from Virginia’s Cibola Farms. 

The Butcher’s Block
1600 King Street
Alexandria, VA  22314