Cheese Louise: A Little Slice of Europe on Route 28 | Branded Content | Markets & Cafes | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

For almost 10 years, Cheese Louise in Kingston has been a food-lovers destination. Located on a well-traveled stretch of Route 28, the gourmet cheese and specialty foods shop is tucked in a plaza with Blue Mountain Bistro-to-Go, the Wine Hutch, and La Bella Pasta. It's a spot tailor-made for hungry commuters and Catskills tourists alike.

The symbiotic relationship with its neighboring food businesses is actually what drew Cheese Louise owner Rick Regan to the spot in the first place."There was a niche that needed filling," he says.

A native of Kingston who lived in Europe for 12 years after his military service, Regan already had a wealth of exposure to the cheese and charcuterie-loving cuisines of half a dozen European countries. After closing his cafe and pizzeria in Kingston's Rondout, Regan discovered the empty storefront on Route 28 through his sister-in-law and Wine Hutch owner, Ursula Woinoski.

True to its name, Cheese Louise offers a vast selection of cheeses as its core business. Today, the shop always carries over 200 varieties from countries all over the world, but the exact inventory has always been a work in progress.

As Americans' taste for adventurous cheeses expanded, so has the shop's selection. "I was initially weary of odiferous cheeses, but I have a lot of chutzpah when it comes to trying things," Regan says. Now, he has plenty of regulars who stop by specifically looking for funky cheeses like Stinking Bishop, an English cow's milk variety whose rind is washed in pear brandy as it ages. "It's unbelievably rough on the nose, but lovely on the palette," he says.

Cheese Louise is also known as the only spot within many miles where someone can lay hands on authentic Jamón Iberico DeBellota—the black footed hog of southwestern Spain that historically grazes on fallen autumn acorns. The hand-sliced delicacy usually goes for $125 a pound. The charcuterie counter is also home to authentic Prosciutto di Parma, Jamón Serrano, chorizo, and boquerones, the delicate white anchovies that Regan says he can never be without.

Outside the world of cheese and charcuterie, there are the baguettes from a bakery in New Jersey that customers often tell Regan are the best this side of the Atlantic; several varieties of caviar he only orders in small batches to maintain peak freshness; smoked salmon they slice to order by hand; countless jams and crackers; and prepared foods like spanakopita and a fan-favorite, chicken matzo ball soup. ("I'd like a dollar for every time someone says 'It's as good as mine, but now I don't have to make it,'" says Regan.)

Cheese Louise's devoted customer base is as varied as its inventory. Locals stop by for special occasions or to grab a baguette for dinner and visitors come to fill up their larders with delicacies that help while away the weekends.

As Cheese Louise approaches its 10-year anniversary, Regan is starting to think about what the next decade will hold. His business partner of many years, Megan Sam McDevitt, just left the business this summer to move to Hawaii, and Regan is considering the idea of retiring within a few years himself. With so many newcomers to the region, he feels confident the work they put into the shop will continue to bring fresh faces to its doors. "We wanted to be different, to have a European flair," says Regan. "Almost on a daily basis someone says, 'We love you guys. We're so glad you're here.'"

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