If it’s Saturday, it’s hot gourmet paninis for the weekly lunch for four local residents. Cristina Leske, Marianne Foley, Mary Aronin and Jackie Purvis have been raving about Michelle Mott’s hot and perfectly yummy, gooey paninis. The outside seating at the Island Cheese Company is also a perfect place for catching up in between bites and sighs of satisfaction.
Island Cheese Company Owner Michelle Mott loves cheeses and saw a need in the Marco Island community. She opened her cheese shop just over a year ago on October 3, 2019, at the Esplanade Shoppes.
Business was going great until COVID-19 happened and people stopped socializing. Michelle and her team had to get creative and added gourmet hot paninis.
The paninis are grilled on rustic Italian bread and served with side orders of spicy pickle chips.
So What Are Paninis?
Not quite a sandwich and not quite a basic sub, they are the Italian comfort food and has always been a large part of Italian cuisine. In Italy, they are called paninis. It starts with a golden crust and melted cheese inside.
In Mexico, they are called “quesadillas.” Paninis are the classic grilled cheese sandwich—whatever they are called—the delicious paninis from Island Cheese Company are perfect for lunch, dinner or anytime.
Cristina Leske ordered her usual “Tiger Tail Kicked up Turkey” with turkey, provolone, mayo, kosher salt and ground black pepper with a choice of cranberry horseradish. She also loves the gift items in the shop and all the gourmet cheeses.
New to the group this week, Connie Lowery, ordered Jimmy Buffett Style “Roast Beef in Paradise” featuring slices of roast beef, garlic cheddar, Schwartz’s spicy pickle chips and horseradish mayo.
Jackie Purvis ordered the mild version of “Hava Cheese Please” which included medium cheddar, creamy Havarti, lusty monk mustard and yellow mustard. It was gooey perfect with the melted creamy Havarti. Last week, Jackie had the spicy version.
Author ordered the “Isle of Capri, Italian Style” with slices of genoa salami, garlic cheddar, basil pesto, mayo and peppadew chili relish offering a blend of unique flavors. According to the owner, this panini is very popular.
Michelle’s gourmet panini is an elevated version of a simple sandwich with golden crust and delicious flavors of melted cheeses and meat in a perfectly gooey yummy inside.
The Island Cheese Company is the go-to place for artisanal cheeses from around the world, charcuterie and pate, a good selection of fruit spreads, chutneys, honey and mustard, a good selection of crackers and gourmet bread, gourmet gift items, along with wine and craft beer.
They also will customize a cheese platter for small, medium and large parties with 24–hour advance order for all pickup platters. Clients can order online and select the platter size, cheese, meat and pairings.
Now, business is picking up again according to Michelle, and regular customers are coming back and the platters are selling again. Starting next week, Michelle will also be serving coffee and selling it retail; she will start with a Honduran blend.
When she first opened, people often popped in and asked if they had coffee. The shop used to be a Starbucks location. She said she is giving the customer what they want—coffee!
Please feel free to check out their wide selection of cheeses and try the Rogue River Blue, a seasonal and organic cheese, hand wrapped in grape leaves and pear brandy and cave–aged for 9 to 11 months. It has a tangy, smooth, rich, pronounced “blue” flavor.
The Truffle Noire is a creamy smooth gouda with a sprinkling of delicate black Italian summer truffles. Truffles are perfect for mixing into butter and cream sauces. For a culinary adventure and creativity, try truffles mac n’ cheese at home.
Michelle and her team are always creating new ways to incorporate their selection of cheeses. They are experimenting with the idea of macaroni and cheese—another comfort food and just like their gourmet paninis—the cheese with the mac will provide the adventure.