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Cheese Wiz

Mother and daughter bring international wheys to Colorado.

The Whites' interest has helped keep many small farmers afloat. Their Longmont warehouse now contains almost 500 kinds of cheeses, which are sold to high-end restaurants and supermarkets such as Wild Oats and Whole Foods up and down the Front Range under the name Willow River. They are also sold to individual customers. Clara, who has just spent a week in Spain tasting cheese, does the buying with Linda. Her brother Samm works in the sales department.

Linda's primary focus now is the European Market, a specialty shop in the same building that contains jams and jellies, olives, vinaigrettes (including one made with Meyer lemons), oils, cookware, candles, funky china, soap and body lotion, cookies, Italian chocolate, German marzipan and a shelf of books on food and cooking. In the back is the table at which we sit, along with a deli serving salads, soup, sandwiches and an ethereal pizza rustico -- a tender crust containing three buttery cheeses, a layer of spinach and a contrasting layer of ham.

Clara persuades us to try a sliver of pressed quince paste along with a slice of tangy goat cheese -- a Spanish Vare. The effect is startling, sweet against salty, soft against firm. She and Linda are talking about the use of bovine growth hormone by commercial producers to increase milk production. It has made life hard for small farmers who want to keep their products pure, they say.

What a whey to go: The Whites in their cheese warehouse.
Mark A. Manger
What a whey to go: The Whites in their cheese warehouse.

"We want to get people to slow down," Linda adds, "and to show them that everything in life doesn't have to be how cheap, how fast, how much."

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