On the House is Eater's column that goes behind the scenes of the restaurant business, written by the owners, operators, chefs and others who make our favorite establishments tick. Today, Coral Frischkorn of Cured, a five year old cheese and specialty store in Boulder, shares the spark behind the spot that became a community staple with two locations on Pearl Street.
I remember standing in the cereal aisle at Whole Foods, a wall of granola staring me down. We'd been living in Spain for a year and a half and were back visiting for a quick work trip. Will had sent me to the store to grab some basics for breakfast — granola, yogurt, a little bit of fruit. A seemingly simple task. In a short period of time abroad, thought, I had forgotten that a whole world of choices, options and varieties faced me — gluten-free, paleo, flakes, clusters, baked, dehydrated, sugar-free, protein-enriched. And that was just the granola. Who knew you could also buy 15 different types of Greek yogurt, let alone Bulgarian, Icelandic, Goat, Sheep, Cow, Soy, Rice. The options seemed endless.
It seems cliché to call this our "ah-ha" moment, but it was a bit of a reality check. We'd grown so accustomed to our tiny neighborhood grocery stores in Europe, the ones with the perfectly pared down selection where the owners knew every product and remembered what you'd enjoyed last time, always ready with a recommendation and a suggestion of something new to try. We visited them every few days, shopping small but frequently, saving the big stock-ups on paper towels, dish soap and laundry detergent for the monthly venture to the big supermercado.
We live in a world that still embraces the idea that bigger is better. The overarching trend is: Houses get bigger, cars get bigger, shopping carts get bigger — even coffee cups keep getting bigger. But in the shadow of this ever larger looming presence is a rebound movement, an appreciation for the micro rather than the macro. Consider the tiny home movement. By stripping away all the superfluous, homeowners are forced to pare down to the essential, the necessary, and for that matter, the most indulgent, because every single item is there for a reason.
We started Cured with this mentality guiding us. We worked to build a shop that embodied the style of consumption we had become so attached to during our years in Spain. Just as in a tiny home, each item in our shop is there for a reason. If we have 6 different olive oils, it is because each and every one is unique and independent and has a place in the kitchen. If our mustard selection is comprised of only one producer, it's because that producer represents the best, and make the mustard we want to take home ourselves.
Our wine shop probably best represents this principle. It's small — really small, at 206 square feet. We hold the honor of the smallest wine shop in the state. But we like to think this is our little David in the world of Goliaths. Every bottle on the shelf is there for a reason, and we get excited about the the quirky, the fun, and the exciting small wineries that you can't find everywhere. We buy with the mentality that if for some reason a wines doesn't sell, we're excited to take it home and drink it ourselves.
We've been lucky over these past 5 years to earn the respect and trust of our customers, to get to champion the micro, and to pare back to the essential, the necessary, the most indulgent. At the end of the day, we get to share our favorite foodstuffs and to help add focus in an overwhelming world of options.