I picked up a piece of Wensleydale at the cheese counter in Leo’s, unintentionally cueing a scene that has been played out hundreds, probably thousands, of times.
Sure enough, the cheese shop man did not pause. “Ah, Wensleydale! You’re probably thinking Wallace and Gromit!” he said. “I’m more the Monty Python generation,” he added, referring somewhat cryptically to the Cheese Shop sketch in which a Mr Henry Wensleydale runs a cheese shop that has no cheese in stock. Actually, he might have been younger than me but I wasn’t going to say anything.
I like a retailer with a sense of humour. It makes shopping easier, sets the customer at ease and is good for business. (Unlike a visit to Coles in High Street, North Balwyn recently when the oaf behind the checkout literally ordered me to take my empty basket and stack it on the pile at the end of the enquiry desk that fronts the cigarette counter. “Why don’t I just jump the counter and run my groceries through the scanner while you go take a break?” I replied. “I’ll even ask myself if I have FlyBuys and tell myself to have a nice day.” He just stared. There’s one for you to work on, Richard Goyder!
The cheese shop is one of the best parts of Leo’s in Kew. On a previous visit I had Thomas in the child seat of the trolley and the cheese shop man offered me a sample of cheese to “keep him busy” - as he put it - as we went around the aisles. But instead of poking a tiny shard of cheese at me on the pointy end of a knife, he sliced off a huge slice of emmentaler, edged and quartered it and placed it in a lidded container. It was probably five dollars worth of top quality Swiss cheese, free. (At this point of proceedings, as I am about to champion Australian producers, I should add that I mainly buy Australian cheese.)
In a world of Coles and Safeway house brands swallowing up Australian producers (cached report from last week’s Weekly Times here) it is good to see Leo’s stocking premium Australian producers. Last week I bought some Mt Zero Manzanillo olives from Leo's excellent deli section.
Speaking of olives, after a long downturn in packaged goods advertising, you might have noticed olive oil importers advertising heavily on radio and elsewhere. Why? Because they have to. In the past, shoppers placed imported olive oil into their trolleys because they had no choice. Now, the Australian olive oil industry is up to full speed and the importers are wooing us with cute advertising. Reject it outright and buy Australian olive oil. You'd be 'Lupi' not to.