Sunshine Goodman has been managing Antonelli's Cheese Shop in San Antonio, Texas for one year. She entered the cheese biz after catching cheese shop owner, John Antonelli's passion for cheese and cheesemaking.

We caught up with Sunshine to chat all thing cheese, including her advice for novice buyers and the questions she hears behind the counter.
 
This post is part of our Holiday Cheers to Cheesemongers series, stay tuned for more monger spotlights, click here. For more holiday recipe and pairings inspiration, thumb through our recipe collection here.

Name: Sunshine Goodman

Hometown: San Antonio Texas

Cheese shop: Antonelli's Cheese Shop, Austin Texas

How long have you been a cheese monger? 1 year

What brought you to the cheese counter? To be honest, I decided I wanted to be part of the cheese business after meeting with John Antonelli. Besides eating cheese, I didn't have any background in food much less cheese. Hearing him talk about his passion for not only cheese, but for the people who make cheese, made me want to be a part of this business. 

Let’s talk about cheese.

What’s the most common question you get asked behind the counter?
What's your favorite cheese?

What should a novice cheese buyer look for in a cheese? 
Cheese buying can be intimidating. We get customers all the time who tell us they have no idea what they are doing. We reassure them that as long as they like to eat cheese, they know what there are doing and we are here to help them! If you are a novice, I would definitely ask your monger what is tasting really good right now. To a novice, it's hard to say to look for a cheese with a certain "look.” It all depends on what flavors they are wanting.

What do you say to a customer who declares that they, “Don’t like goat cheese,” or are put off by an appearance or aroma of a cheese?
I take what they say seriously. It's true, the look and smell of a cheese can be off putting and a goat cheese can have an intense (delicious) barnyard flavor. I start getting curious and ask them if it's the flavor or smell that is a little off putting. It's important to listen to their feedback. 99.9 percent of the time they are still open to trying a goat cheese. Listening to what they say will determine which goat cheese to show them if they are still willing to try one.
 
What advice do you have for novice cheese buyers who are building their first cheeseboard? Are there rules?
There are no rules!! At least that's my opinion. I do give them some pointers. I know when I was new to cheese, I'd want a board with nine different cheeses on it because they all tasted good...excessive, I know.  I let them know that three to five cheeses with various styles and milk types is a good start. The boards I usually make for myself usually have three or four cheeses, one bloomy cheese, one washed, one firm or hard, and usually a blue. I think any cheese board should have at least two pairings on it, a great board would have one for each cheese, but again, this is just my suggestion. Go with what you like and what works for you.

What's one thing about cheese, cheesemaking or the cheese world that would surprise or excite an average cheese buyer?
That aged goat cheese does exist! People are surprised to find that out. If they aren't a fan of goat cheese, if they try an aged one, most of the time, they end up loving it.
 
Describe your board and the inspiration behind it. Explain why your particular pairings work well.

Vermont Creamery's Bonne Bouche with Confituras' Orange Chile de Arbol Marmalade* (TX) 
This saltiness and tanginess of this soft goat cheese pairs well with this local jam. The acid in each selection is a great balance. The fantastic thing about this is you can go down to your local farmer’s market and buy whatever jam is in season.

CKC Farm's Baby Blue (TX) with Avalanche Finocchiona (CO) and Unbound Pickling's Pickled Green Beans (OR)
This local, mild, creamy blue cheese can be spread on a slice of Finocchiona. It has a nice peppery bite and the brightness of the picked green bean adds an additional crisp layer of spice.

Central Coast Creamery's Goat Gouda (CA) with Blue Heron Farm's Bourbon Cajeta (TX)The caramel scent of this cheese has a soulmate and it is Bourbon Cajeta. Cajeta is a caramel sauce made with goat milk. The bourbon in this cajeta helps bring out the nuttiness of the cheese.

Vermont Creamery’s fresh chevre-stuffed Peppedews wrapped in La Quercia Speck (IO)Once you try these delicious bites, you won't be able to stop. The tanginess of the cheve is perfect stuffed in the mildly spicy and sweet pepper. The smokiness of the speck brings it all together.

Vermont Creamery’s fresh chevre-stuffed Peppedews wrapped in La Quercia Speck (IO)
Once you try these delicious bites, you won't be able to stop. The tanginess of the cheve is perfect stuffed in the mildly spicy and sweet pepper. The smokiness of the speck brings it all together.