Say cheese, please!

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The story behind Cheeses & Mary at Broadwell Cottage

STORY & PHOTOS BY

KATIE VanBRACKLE

katie@northsidewoman.com

After 25 years of working on Wall Street, Mary Mayer looked out of her New York City office window one afternoon and realized, “I don’t belong here anymore.”

Soon thereafter, Mayer retired and moved with her husband to Alpharetta where she quickly fell in love with the Crabapple area’s small town charm.

She became a frequent shopper at Broadwell Cottage on Mid Broadwell Road, an intimate shop with handmade gifts, art and clothing inside and a shady garden complete with koi pond out back. Mayer soon developed a friendship with owner Jody Green.

When Green discovered Mayer’s interest in food, especially her passion for supporting small local farmers, the idea was tossed around of hosting a farmers market outside the store on weekends. But Mayer didn’t want a Saturday-only job.

“Why can’t there be an everyday farmers market?” she asked.  Thus, Cheeses & Mary was born.

Mayer set up shop on the back porch of Broadwell Cottage, where a small refrigerator houses a hand-picked selection of locally made artisan cheeses, crafted from the milk of cows, goats and sheep which are sustainably raised or certified natural. She also sells local jams, jellies, honey, oil and vinegars, salts and seasoning, artisanal meats, cookies and flatbreads.

Broadwell Cottage is a drop-off point for Farmers Fresh CSA, a local community-supported agriculture program open to the public, which provides the fresh fruits and veggies Mayer is unable to stock during the week.

Mayer is very selective about the goods she sells through Cheeses & Mary. She selects “small batch producers,” mostly in Georgia, and visits each farm personally to meet the farmer and learn as much as she can about each product.

A training course at Atlanta’s Institut du Fromage taught her how to properly store and eat cheeses, and now she shares that knowledge at special Cheeses & Mary wine, food and cheese pairing events.

“Raw milk cheese is a near perfect protein,” she said. “It contains minerals, enzymes, calcium, everything your body needs except Vitamin C and fiber. And because it’s in its natural form, our bodies can easily metabolize it. Some people say that eating cheese just makes them feel good and there is science behind that statement. Cheese contains an opioid peptide that naturally satiates you. And there’s a reason Europeans eat cheese before and after their meals. Eating cheese before a meal will help you eat less during the meal, and eating cheese after a meal helps you break down the proteins you just consumed.

“You could say that I’ve become intensely passionate about cheese,” she said with a laugh. “I like what I do and I believe in what I do.”

Mayer’s husband, Jonathan, is the executive chef at the Country Club of Roswell and the couple enjoys entertaining and creating with food. Mayer is quick to share recipe ideas with her customers.

“I cook with this watermelon chow-chow more than anything else,” she said, holding up a small jar from Fairywood Thicket Farms. “Marinate any type of meat in it for an hour, then grill and serve a dollop of the chow-chow on the side. It’s delicious.”

Mayer goes on to say that farmer Kim Connor from Fairywood also raises therapy ponies and has wild elderberry bushes on her property down in Fairburn, Ga.

Legend says fairies live in elderberries, hence the farm’s name.

Each product at Cheeses & Mary comes with a sample and a story, and Mayer is eager to share them all.

“I have a relationship with my producers and when I introduce customers to the food products at Cheeses & Mary, they then become part of that relationship. It’s important to know exactly where your food comes from,” said Mayer.

To meet Mayer and try a sample of her cheeses and other products, stop by Broadwell Cottage during your next drive through Crabapple. Or look for her farmers market display just outside the garden gate during Crabapple Fest on Oct. 5.

Cheeses & Mary at Broadwell Cottage

765 Mid Broadwell Road, Milton

678-558-1414 | www.facebook.com/cheese4u

Cheeses & Mary Salad

Toss baby spinach with seasonal fruits and Caly Road’s Chevré (goat cheese from a Sandy Springs creamery). Top with almonds and pink peppercorns.

Dressing: 4 ounces Chevré, ½ cup buttermilk, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon local honey, and a pinch of salt to taste. Puree dressing ingredients in a food processor, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Mary Mayer says: “The dressing is smooth and velvety like cream— luscious enough to serve for dessert.”

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