Waiting for Gouda

Foster & Dobbs Authentic Foods offers an applause-worthy selection of cheeses and olives.

By Jill Spitznass May 19, 2009 Published in the March 2008 issue of Portland Monthly

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What do cheese and Beckett have in common? More than you might think, say performing arts veterans Luan Schooler and Tim Wilson, who opened the artisan food shop Foster & Dobbs two years ago in the Irvington neighborhood. “The curating process here is very much like the one in our artistic work,” says Schooler, who trod the boards in the Bay Area, where the couple formerly lived. “Both involve finding the gems and bringing them forward.”

Small-batch cheeses are center stage at Foster & Dobbs, which also offers a variety of cured meats, wine, pastas and sweets. For those wishing to linger at one of the artfully merchandised shop’s several bistro tables, a menu of prepared foods includes a traditional ploughman’s lunch, made-to-order sandwiches and the Pause Plate, an enlightened take on happy hour that features a glass of wine, a cheese pairing and other small bites.

And because a production is only as good as its supporting cast, Schooler and Wilson (who also runs Western Arts Alliance, a nonprofit performing arts organization) offer classes on everything from pâté to port, as well as catering services and private parties around their chandelier-lit farmhouse table. Cheese-of-the-month and food-focused book clubs enhance the cultural mise-en-scène of the place. It’s an approach that’s drawing calls for encores from even the youngest audience members. “We have kids who come in for their after-school snack,” says Schooler. “They’d rather have a few slices of really good salami than candy. I love that.”

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