by Josie Krogh
PASTE & RIND CHEESE CO.
Kara McGrath, owner 904 H St NE Washington, DC
Paste and Rind was originally conceived during the pandemic as a monthly cheese club and e-commerce platform. As demand grew, owner Kara McGrath began dreaming of the next phase of the business, which has become a hybrid retail cheese shop with a cut-to-order cheese case, tasting bar, event space, and catering kitchen. “We kept expanding our offerings and hit a point this summer where we were like, okay, we need more room. How do we want to do it?” McGrath decided it was time to go brick-and-mortar and opened the doors to Paste and Rind Cheese Company in February 2023.
1. What is your best-selling item right now?
Both our best seller and one that is really getting people excited about craft cheese is Wild Rosemary from Goat Rodeo Farm and Dairy outside of Pittsburgh. A lot of people are familiar with Spanish style and Manchego, and this cheese kind of looks like that. But because it’s a goat and cow’s milk blend, it’s a little bit creamier. It’s got a little bit of a tang from the goat’s milk.
2. What do you think is “hot” right now?
I think that simplified, curated cheese boards are hot right now. Cheese and charcuterie boards with nine types of cheese and all these filler accompaniments look beautiful and are photogenic, but I think conscientious cheese consumers are looking for intentionality and elevation in pairings. That’s why we want people to come to real cheese shops, so we can help them learn about pairings.
3. What is the most common question customers ask you?
The most common question I get is, “How did you get into cheese?” DC is a city with a lot of professional industries, and there aren’t a ton of cheese shops around, so I think a lot of my customers are kind of bewildered that this is a career option.
4. What cheese is worth a splurge? What do you skimp on?
Splurge: I go for a good, high-quality, fresh chèvres. A lot of people don’t know that there are excellent chèvres from quality producers out there—like Goat Rodeo, Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery, or Old Chatham Creamery. There’s better chèvre out there and it makes a huge difference.
Skimp: I’m definitely not above a shredded cheese pack from the grocery store. I will use one quality cheese that I want to be the dominant flavor, like Le Gruyere AOP, and I’ll combine it with a three-cheese blend from Trader Joe’s.