photography by MacKenzie Frank
Stephanie Webster calls them “cheese diamonds”—little crystals that give well-aged cheeses a pleasant, salty crunch. They’re formed from an amino acid called tyrosine, which is involved in synthesizing the hormone dopamine in the brain. Dopamine makes you feel happy. Tyrosine makes you feel happy. Cheese makes you feel happy.
Standing behind the counter at her Over-the-Rhine shop, The Rhined, Webster offers up all kinds of interesting cheese knowledge and happy-inducing dairy products.
Webster’s fascination with cheese dates to her days as a biology undergrad, when her microbiology class made cheese, yogurt, and wine to explore the process of fermentation. Webster and her husband/business partner, Dave, made cheese at home, explored retail shops when they traveled, and dreamed of bringing quality cheese to Cincinnati. They opened The Rhined in June, in a narrow brick building on Elm Street directly across from Findlay Market.
The Rhined focuses on artisanal cheeses from small domestic producers. Webster has met several of the makers personally and deeply respects the effort involved in a well-made cheese. “Cheesemaking in Europe is a tradition that’s hundreds of years old, so there are generations of cheesemakers, whereas the artisanal cheese movement in America is fairly new and these are first-generation cheesemakers,” she says. “Cheesemakers here are choosing to be cheesemakers—it’s not their family business—and it’s attracting artists and writers and other creative people. Cheesemaking is an art.”
The Rhined is equal parts retail store and cheese bar, with a long counter that encourages customers to order a cheese board and stay awhile. Webster presents three cheeses (meats from Indy’s Smoking Goose are available, too) with assorted accompaniments and a detailed description of each one. Six food-friendly wines, plus canned and draft beers, are also available.
Eat cheese. Be happy.
1737 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine
Tue–Fri 10am–8pm, Sat 9am–8pm, Sun 10am–6pm
Bryn’s long career in publishing took a left turn sometime around 2010, when she discovered the joy of food writing. Since then, she’s found professional nirvana as the editor of Edible Ohio Valley, author of The Findlay Market Cookbook, and occasional instructor at The Cooking School at Jungle Jim’s. Find her seasonal recipes at writes4food.com.