The Bloomy Rind
21 Main St., Hingham
Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Major credit cards accepted.
As you’d expect from its name, The Bloomy Rind in Hingham sells cheeses. But it also offers sausages and prosciutto, chutneys and mustards. And then there’s the chef.
Much of the food is handmade and produced locally, and it shows, especially in the creations of veteran chef Robert Gonsalves. Flavors are fresh and nuanced, the cooking precise and inventive. And you don’t have to take my word for it — they will happily offer you samples of cheeses, sausages, and salads.
Gonsalves cooked at L’Espalier and Olives, and even traveled with Todd English to film television shows and help open Beso, English’s restaurant collaboration with actress Eva Longoria. But he’s turned from that frenzied life to the more relaxed pace of the store he runs with his wife, Mary, who is the cheesemonger.
As a believer in the farm-to-table movement, Robert Gonsalves makes his pea guacamole ($16 per pound) only when peas are in season, and shucks and shocks whole lots by hand. The peas are brightened with mint, cilantro, and peppers, and have an oniony bite. It’s a refreshing take on the old avocado routine.
His farro salad ($10 a pound) is a hearty mix of the grain with red onion, radishes, and other vegetables, with the tang of some dried cherries. The dish is accented with sumac, giving it a lemony finish.
Recommending cheeses is the specialty of Mary Gonsalves. She cut slices of crema kasa, a soft cow’s milk cheese from Wisconsin ($24 per pound), buttery in texture and taste. Lillé ($24 per pound), a soft cow’s milk cheese from Vermont, was silky and started out mild, ending a little sour. Both won my hearty approval.
A spiced sour cherry spread ($11), with accents of ginger, had pucker and zing, and when paired with the two cheeses, they made up sweet, salty, and tart bites.
An apple walnut smoked cheese from Utah ($25 per pound) was not as big a hit, with a strong smokiness more reminiscent of a campfire. “That’s OK, it’s not for everybody,” Mary Gonsalves said.
That couldn’t be truer for the Hudson Red ($28 per pound), which was potent, and, frankly, reminded me of something gone rotten. That sentiment didn’t feel so harsh when Gonsalves told me a devotee customer described the flavor as “rancid,” and that fans request the stinky semisoft washed rind from New York.
The Winnimere ($33 per pound), a gooey washed rind cheese from Vermont wrapped in spruce bark, was a fun surprise. The cheese is at first all woodsy and then a whiff of bacon comes at the end, though it lacks any meat.
As regulars on a first-name basis drifted in and out, she made recommendations based on their past purchases. When she suggested a lunchtime flatbread with various toppings to a client, I pointed out that the woman’s young daughter lit up. “Oh, she loves this stuff,” Mary Gonsalves said, clearly familiar with the tastes of customers big and small.
She recalled skeptics asking why they should buy cheese at The Bloomy Rind instead of Whole Foods. Supermarket staffers are not likely to remember your preferences, much less make suggestions based on them. Also, the customer doesn’t know how long the cheese has sat on the supermarket shelf, “wrapped so tightly in plastic it can’t even breathe,” she said.
The average supermarket also isn’t likely to stock charcuterie of such high quality. Robert Gonsalves treated customers to a round of slices of prosciutto Americano ($28 a pound). It had a light layer of fat that melts in your mouth, and an uncomplicated, cured flavor. The Larchmont Charcuterie beef saucisson ($23 a pound) was a lightly peppery dried sausage, and hits the spot for a salty snack.
The shop also offers soups and sandwiches. The Mediterranean ($8), griddled flatbread filled with roasted eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, and feta, is not a new concept, but the vegetables melded together so perfectly with the harissa aioli and creamy hummus, I craved it the next day.
For a sweet finish, try the goat milk caramels ($12), luxurious and smooth. Be Sexy ($12.50) is a raw, dairy-free, gluten-free chocolate that is interesting to try once, but I prefer conventional chocolate to the slight graininess and inclusion of goji berries and rose petals.
The shop also includes jams, crackers, honeys, mustards, dried pastas, and kits to make your own cheese.
Robert, a North Attleborough native, and Mary, originally of Dorchester, said there was nothing like The Bloomy Rind on the South Shore. “You would have to go to Boston to get something special,” Robert said.
Robert emphasizes the importance of freshness, ordering only what he needs for the next two days. He proudly noted the lack of a microwave or freezer in his kitchen.
“I cook like people’s mothers,” he said. “If I can generate a food memory in somebody . . . that to me is the greatest compliment.”