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Intimidated by Cheese? Leave it to Pecorino in Grafton.

Simone Linson cutting cheese at Pecorino in Grafton, MA (Photo: Erb Photography)
Photo: Erb Photography

Simone Linsin’s brigade of cheese purists is unsuspecting. Some of them began training their palates at her country cheese shop, Pecorino, before they could talk.

“Those are our cheese kids,” she says, gesturing to a collage of smiling children holding up wedges of aged goat gouda and triple creme blue as big as their tiny heads. “The kids actually make buying decisions for their families. They sample things from the case, then their parents step aside and let them do the shopping.”

Linsin grew up in Heidelberg, Germany where her grandfather ran a butcher shop. When she and her husband moved from Germany to America two decades ago, she set out to recreate what she refers to as “the good old world.” The center of her universe is the cheese case, which consists of between 50 and 80 selections depending on the season.

Photo: Erb Photography

Linsin doesn’t sell so much as she consults. “Whether they have people coming over, they want to give a gift, they want a snack, or they want something for after dinner—we are prepared to help customers compose a cheese board,” she says, acknowledging that many people are anxious and embarrassed on their first go around with the cheese case.

“We help customers navigate through textural differences: soft, medium, hard. Different milks: goat, sheep, cow, buffalo. Raw milk cheeses, washed rinds, and all sorts of stinkers,” Linsin says with a lightness that at once renders her sharp and approachable. She stares at the case as if it lives and breathes like one of her beloved cheese kids.

Linsin frequently finds herself asking, “How can we elevate the cheese experience?” For a long time, she underestimated the importance of accompaniments. At present, Pecorino carries 35 cracker varieties in its pantry section, along with duck fat, cornichons, specialty spice blends, and heirloom salts.

She fiddles with the spout on a giant metal vat, explaining, “We have olive oil fresh from California here in the tank and we fill three different vessels. People can bring those back for a dollar off their refills.” The olive oil compliments a selection of fresh bread from Nashoba Brook Bakery in West Concord, with whom they have worked since Pecorino opened 10 years ago.

Back then, Linsin was still skeptical about opening a cheese shop in North Grafton. “To be very honest, I hated this building. It was run down and I didn’t want to be here. This was a shack.” Linsin points behind the counter to reveal the feature that changed her mind, saying, “I hated everything except this 800 degree wood fired oven, which was actually used by a pizza place in the old days.” There was still wood in the oven when she moved in. Her family helped clean the place out and scavenged for refurbish-able materials in the basement of the building.

When it comes to wine, Linsin is particular. “I taste everything before I buy. I don’t do commodity buying. I don’t do deals. Everything is very meaningful to me including how I source it.” Linsin focuses on European wines, but she has also taken to curating an impressive natural wine selection from California.

Linsin prefers to bring lesser known varietals to her shop. “Ten years ago, that was a no-no, because Chardonnay and Cabernet ruled the world in America. I was very fortunate to find a clientele in North Grafton that was eager to learn and raise the level of education around here,” she explains.

When Pecorino opened in 2010, people told Linsin she was crazy. Now, she hosts two tastings a month. “We draw a super-crowd!” she says. Just like Linsin’s original cheese kids, the shop has grown up. In 2019, Pecorino is a fearless touchpoint for food and culture in the community.

See for yourself at their next wine tasting on August 23 from 5-7 p.m.

Photo: Erb Photography
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#SundayFunday – Uxlocale Brings Italy to Uxbridge

UxLocale, located in Uxbridge, Massachusetts

We’ve established that #SundayFunday doesn’t have to mean the drinking-and-activities-pre-Monday-hipster-ritual intended to be gushed about on social media. For us, the concept of pre-gaming on Sunday to gear up for the week is less about drinking mimosas and more about making the end of the week significant. Significance can come from a culmination of different elements of scenery, location, food style, and people. At Uxlocale, there is a great balance between picturesque scenery of Uxbridge farm life, high-quality ingredients, and the heartwarming familiarity of a family business.

Outdoor dining at UxLocale, located in Uxbridge, MassachusettsUxlocale is a newcomer to the quiet food scene of Uxbridge but has proclaimed itself a destination eatery and rightfully so. With a twist on modern country, Uxlocale breathes life into passionate dishes stemming from family traditions and cultivates a sense of country leisure and travel with its backdrop of rolling green hills, farm living and old country Italian flavors. Catering to Italian favorites like pasta puttanesca – a pasta topped with garlic, anchovies, Sicilian & kalamata olives, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, crushed san marzano tomatoes and Italian parsley – and smelts limoni fritti – lightly fried and super crispy dressed smelts with fried lemon, garlic and white wine – the menu speaks of secret family recipes and an admiration of tradition.

Italian dining at UxLocale, located in Uxbridge, MassachusettsWhen we consider Italian traditions, it is hard to avoid the mention of pizza. At Uxlocale, pizza choices like the harvest – a pizza topped with roasted grape tomatoes portabella mushrooms, basil, scallions, fresh mozzarella, bacon, arugula and balsamic reduction – and the Margherita – topped with fresh pomodoro tomato sauce, mozzarella, freshly torn basil and a hint of oregano – offer a refreshing take on average New England pies. Pairing a glass of Sasyr Super Tuscan with the Uxlocale – a pizza topped with house-sausage, red peppers, and red onion – brings together a full experience of what Uxlocale has to offer although the mussels bianco paired with a glass of Riesling – preferably the Blue Fish Dry – is a good enough reason to award Uxlocale its #SundayFunday title.

Whether you are dining indoors, in the luxury of a finely crafted restaurant – walls adorned with paintings by local artists, or you choose to sit under a string of vintage-style lights in the open outdoor dining space, Uxlocale fully embraces the culinary talents of Chef Elaine Pusateri Cowan and couples it with an impeccable atmosphere, making it a worthy trip for #SundayFunday.