If there’s any place in town that makes me feel like an excited little kid in a candy shop, it’s got to be Wedge and Bottle. Man, do I love cheese! I know a lot of people love cheese, but most people don’t own four books about cheese that have been read cover to cover. I’m a total fan-boy when it comes to quality queso, and husband and wife duo, Troy and Krista Daily, who run Wedge and Bottle are kindred spirits for those of us who have discovered the secret world of “the good stuff”.
Wedge and Bottle- 4025 E. Chandler Blvd. Ste. 44, Phoenix, AZ 85048 (480) 704-1255
A few years back, I had the opportunity to work at a top notch French restaurant, in the front-of-house. It was during this period of my life that I was exposed to cheese. I’m not talking about Velveeta, Kraft, or even store bought Cheddar or Brie. There is a whole other level of cheese (and meat) that will blow your mind, and that’s the sort of product they sell at Wedge and Bottle.
Step up to the cheese counter here, and you will see what a properly stocked cheese display should look like. A vast array of cheeses, from triple cream to hard cheese. A great selection of blues, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, semi-firm, bloomy, soft, and stinky washed rinds. Cheese here are represented from all over the world, like Spanish Cabrales(so bleu, the whole cheese looks grey), to traditional Swiss Tete de Moine, made by monks. In addition to a great selection of imports, they proudly display many great American made artisinal cheeses, which have come a long way in the last dozen years. If you’re overwhelmed by the selection, ask to try several cheeses and let Troy and Krista guide you along. It’s a fun experience to try new things, and the owners are more than happy to share their knowledge.
The cheese selection may be amazing, but also is the selections of cured meats. There are things here that just can’t be found anywhere else in AZ. Many of the cured selections come from my favorite meat shop in the US, Salumeria Biellese, out of Manhattan. These are true Artisan meats, made and twined by hand. The selections on offer at Wedge and Bottle range from different types of Salamis, Prosciutto and Sopresatta to the best Spanish Jamon Iberico De Bellota you can buy (at a mere 112.00 per lb. and worth every pricey ounce).
On my latest trip, with friends from PHXfoodnerds.com, I chose several cheeses and meats to get our meal started. Wedge and Bottle offers a changing board of meat and cheese selections if you don’t feel like making a lot of choices, but putting together a well rounded cheese board is always exciting to me. I wanted to keep it down to a few cheeses and meats, so I settled on Affiedelice, a French, slightly stinky, soft cheese, which translates into Ripe Delight. Also, the French creamy bleu, Fourme D’Ambert. For the harder cheeses I selected Sbrinz, a less salty Swiss-style Parmesan, and Owl Creek Tomme Sheep’s milk from Ohio, which had a nice firm smooth texture and a hint of that nutty taste I love from sheep’s milk. To accompany the cheese, I purchased Salt and Pepper Crackers from Cowgirl Creamery in California and asked for some sweeter accompaniments. Krista provided a Cabernet Black Pepper Jelly along with a Fig and Mustard Fruit compote(I believe).
I kept the meat selection simple since we were also ordering Sandwiches off the chalkboard menu. The left two were Biellese’s Finocchiona Fennel Salami and Bresaola, air-cured beef. The one on the right, which was new to me, was Smoking Goose Lomo, a smoked and slow-cured pork loin surrounded by a good 2-3 inches of fat. All three selections were great, but that Lomo’s silky texture and intense smokey finish really struck a chord with me and my guests. What I didn’t see until after the meal was a slab of Mangalista Lardo, tucked away in the back. Luckily, Dom saw it and ordered a small plate to try. Lardo is seasoned and cured fatback from pork, which is usually lightly heated over bread so it melts a bit. This time, we tried it as is.
The sandwiches at Wedge and Bottle are always very satisfying, because like their cheese, they keep it simple and use high quality ingredients. We tried a few sandwiches including #2(top left) with fresh melted Chevre, salami, and sweet peppers. The #6(bottom left) was a seasonal special sandwich featuring turkey, gruyere and a cranberry horseradish. The #1(right) is made from Prosciutto, Asiago, a sweet fig jam and balsmic. In addition we tasted the #4(not shown) which was made up of tomato, mozzarella, pesto and confit red onions. My personal favorite was the #2 for its combination of creaminess with sweet and spicy finish, but really this is all about personal preference. I have yet to order any sandwich I don’t think is delicious in it’s own way.
In addition to the cheese, meat and sandwiches, Wedge and Bottle is also a boutique grocery store, stocked with a very interesting selection of spreads, pastas, olives, crackers, cutlery, beer, and wines, including a small section of great wine from Arizona. They also offer lots of events such as beer and cheese pairings, wine tastings, and mozzarella making classes.
Really, Wedge and Bottle is the store i’d want to own, if I owned any shop in town. It’s just the right size, and focuses on simplicity and quality. After being open for a year and a half, Krista and Troy seem to be settling in, and continuing with the same level of quality and service they’ve offered from day one. If you like cheese, you owe it to yourself to swing by and give Wedge and Bottle a try. I’ll bet you’ll like it just as much as I do.