SEPTEMBER 05, 2012 7:00 AM • BY MARY LOU AGUIRRE
Don’t freeze the cheese. Abe Abuhilal is serious about all things cheese. The Caruthers resident is passionate, bordering on obsessive, on offering his customers the best cheese possible. He is not a shy man. Anyone walking by his table at the G.J. Gardner Kingsburg Farmer’s Market will have likely been implored to taste a sample of his Journey cheese.
“I know you know me,” he says to a passerby.
Or “Lady, come by. Try this. It is good for you.”
It’s hard for most to pass up free cheese. Abuhilal turns on the charm while wearing a cheese hat. He quickly disarms strangers who are offered their choice of “old” and “young” cheese.
“As a Arab we know the art of hospitality,” he says. “I like to connect to the customer.”
His business, Chateau Fresno Organics, makes its cheese from 100 percent fresh raw sheep milk and include natural sea salt and French imported cheese cultures.
“Consumers want organic cheese,” Abuhilal says. “Our cheese is sold at Whole Foods market. They want our cheese. We are a small artisan cheese.”
Enjoyment of his cheese, which is aged for four months, is important to Abuhilal. He instructs shoppers to wrap the cheese in wax paper.
“The wax paper will allow the cheese to breathe as it continues aging,” he says. “Always eat the cheese at room temperature.”
Abuhilal, who grew up in Palestine and later traveled to Spain, Italy and France, eats cheese at every meal.
“I have it with my eggs, I will eat it with eggplant and tomatoes and have cheese with watermelon. The fat is very digestible. If you are a vegetarian, this is what to eat.”
He is eager to get the word out about his cheese and intends to sell it through the last farmer’s market of the season on Thursday, Oct. 6.
“This has been a good experience,” he says. “I stand behind my product.”