By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
North Grafton – Simone Linsin can wrap up an assortment of your favorite cheeses, or recommend cheeses you’ve never heard of. And she’ll find the exact wine to complement them.
Linsin’s Pecorino cheese shop on Route 30 in North Grafton features anywhere from 60 to 85 different cheeses, depending on the season, about half imported and half from American cheesemakers, with a strong representation of New England producers.
“We want to make customers comfortable with choosing a cheese, whether they know a lot or a little. All of our cheeses are cut to order, and we encourage customers to taste before they buy,” Linsin said.
The shop’s wine room focuses on European varietals.
“I want to introduce people to lesser-known varietals, for instance, wines from Austria, Portugal, Greece, Lebanon,” she said.
Pecorino: A Country Cheese Shop opened five years ago; the wine section was added a year later after Linsin, a native of Germany, became a U.S. citizen and was able to get a liquor license.
She and her husband, who works in the software industry, both wanted to live abroad, and so they transferred to the Boston area almost 20 years ago and have been here ever since. She had been in the travel industry, but took some time off when her son was born, and then worked for Panzano Provviste & Vino in Southborough before opening her own store in Grafton.
“I have a history in Old World food and hospitality,” she said. “My grandparents owned a butcher shop in a town near Heidelberg and my aunt ran a restaurant and inn. My grandfather used to take me with him when he visited the wineries in the area.”
The shop’s main room is dominated by a large refrigerated case packed with cheeses and an assortment of cured meats and pates.
Linsin also sells a variety of foods that go well with cheese – crackers, jams, honey, nuts, dried fruits, olives and handmade chocolate.
“The type of cracker can really enhance a cheese – like cheddar on a caramelized onion cracker,” she said.
There are artisanal pastas and sauces, and organic, certified extra-virgin olive oil from California is available on tap in a stainless steel tank.
Fresh bread is delivered daily from Nashoba Brook Bakery in Concord.
“They have French ovens and can produce bread with a wonderful crust,” she said.
Each wine features a hand-written card describing that wine.
“The notes are all mine. I’ve tried every wine I sell,” she said.
Linsin offers a wide variety of cheese platters and boards that come with fruits, nuts and other condiments to accent the selected cheeses. She notes the platters are “party-ready” with the cheeses sliced or cut to make it easy for guests to enjoy them.
“I hate to see people trying to decide what to do with a large piece of Gouda,” she laughed.
A popular item is the store’s Picnic Tote with a bottle of wine, two cheese pairings based on the customer’s wine choice, cured meat and a baguette for $35, perfect for a picnic or a hostess gift.
Pecorino has a selection of gift items, primarily wine- and cheese-related, such as handmade cheese boards, wine and cheese tools, handmade pottery and imported European decorative linens. Gift baskets are made to order for any budget.
“Five years ago, I started out with very low expectations and set up the store conservatively, but we opened right before the holiday season and the response was wonderful. I get goosebumps thinking about how supportive people have been,” Linsin said.
Pecorino is located at 135 Westborough Road (Route 30) in North Grafton. It is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s closed Sunday and Monday. For additional information, call 508-830-9200, or visit www.pecorinografton.com or on their Facebook page.