Talking dinner (and cheese) with cheese expert Steve Jenkins

Steve Jenkins from Fairway

I’m standing at the cheese counter at Fairway Market in Harlem talking to Steve Jenkins who knows a thing or two about cheese. Jenkins is the author of Cheese Primer and he’s run the cheese department at Fairway Market since 1980. (And if you haven’t been to a Fairway, it’s well worth a visit if you love food and cooking.)

We’re discussing cheese of course, and his favorite weeknight dinner, which Jenkins says is also a hit at dinner parties.

“I take a few rotisserie chickens home and I roast the hell out of them,” he explains. “You want the chicken to fall off the bone.” And what does he serve with the chickens? “A large green salad and some cheese.”


Of course he has an array of cheese from which to choose so I ask him his recent favorites and he has quite a few, some of which he refers to as “rock ‘n’ roll.”

He shows me three cheeses from the Piedmont region of Italy.

Rochetta: a creamy blend of goat’s, cow’s and sheep’s milk
Brunet: 100% young goat’s milk

La Tur: a dense blend of goat’s, cow’s and sheep’s milk that’s earthy and full

A few nibbles and I agree: Rock ‘n’ roll indeed. 

He doesn’t add cheese to the salad. Rather, he keeps them on a board to cut into. “So many things come already broken up and sliced—it’s nice to cut into the cheese while you’re eating,” he says.

Jenkins has some other cheese to recommend tasting this spring and summer. He said many customers are catching on to the great cheese available.

He loves gorgonzola and says this one phenomenal: Casarrigoni Belzeblu

And though Jenkins says he doesn’t like additions to cheese, and how overplayed truffles can be, that the Caciotta al Tartufo is a stellar choice.


Other items he recommends having around at dinner time:

  • Fairway’s award-winning olive oil from Portugal: Cabeco das Nogueiras, which is considered one of the world’s best extra virgin olive oils.
  • Artisanal charcuterie. He says that there are producers, such as Fra’Mani, making such high quality salami and jamon they rival those in Europe.

Rotisserie chickens, a large salad, a bite (or two or three) of rock ‘n’ roll cheese, and some handmade salumi…I’m on board.

What’s your favorite go-to dinner? 

Let me know in the comments below.

  1. That sound pretty tasty. We have very few choices for cheese where I live (if it doesn’t say Kraft it’s not happening). But when we’re in St. Louis the kids like to pick out some new cheeses at the bigger grocery stores and marvel at the huge rounds of cheese.

  2. Fun article, and he sounds like a rock n’ roll kinda guy! I love cheese + charcuterie (three cheers for the French on this! It’s one of my favorite parts of living in France)…and adding the salad and roasted chicken sounds delicious! My to-go dinners usually involve spins on Mexican stuff, or dips with yummy, hearty bread. You make food soooooo exciting! I love this topic, and it’s always a pleasure to read and feel your excitement around it! YAY! Thank you! 🙂

  3. Cheese is divine, and there are sooo many to choose from! You always make food sound like so much fun rather than something we have to do to live! 🙂 My go-to dinners are not too exciting. Since I am not a meat eater, I create a lot of salads…but they always include LOTS of cheese!

  4. It all sounds so delicious! Makes that green drink I’m going to have for dinner seem rather…..lacking. LoL Hugs and butterflies ~Teresa~

  5. Yum! My favourite go to dinner has to be stir fry, just raiding the vegetable drawer and making up a sauce depending on what I fancy. It’s so quick, easy and gives me the fresh veg hit I’m craving.

  6. I’m a huge fan of brie. Slice and apple, add some soft white bread, and that is heaven for me. As for my go to meal, it has to be grilled chicken with grilled onions and a mix of red, yellow, and orange peppers. It’s always a huge hit with guests and an easy family favorite.

  7. Yum… cheese is in the top 3 of my favorite foods. More often than not I’ll open a bottle of wine and grab some cheese and crackers and that will be my dinner. I think adding a salad and some veggies would make it healthier! I was in Europe this past April and had the opportunity to visit a dairy in Emme where they make Emmental (Swiss) cheese, my favorite 😉 Thanks Tracey 😉

  8. Cheese!! YUM!!

    I like that he talks about so many that are a blend of different kinds of milk. I’ve been doing my best to stay away from cow dairy…those rock-and-roll sound yummy.

    Rotisserie Chicken is by far my favorite go to meal. It’s so easy and yummy. We just add a salad or some veggies and it’s good to go. Plus we always have left over so we get easy lunch the next day.

    Now that it’s nice out, throwing something on the grille is where it’s at. I love to roast corn with this fancy curry spice rub on it, zucchini, peppers, asparagus. The some kind of chicken sausage- Applegate farms Spinach feta is by far my favorite.

    We also like to do “Mediterranean night” which consists of a big palter with humus, babaganoosh, grape leaves, pita, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives…..yummy!

  9. Mmmm. Sounds delish!

    My go-to dinner is a giant salad of fresh spinach, blueberries, blue cheese, salty sliced almonds, fresh corn when it’s in season, and strawberry vingaigrette — with a loaf of crusty multigrain bread dipped in olive oil. Makes me hungry just thinking about it, and I never get tired of it!

  10. Ah, how I’d love to live in France someday, for the food and so much else. All those dips sounds great, too. I find that dips with some cheese and charcuterie make a great lunch.

  11. Mediterranean night is right up my alley….yum. I love platters of a variety of food. And grilled food, too. Mmmm…some dinner ideas are percolating.