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Parmesan without the rind

My normal grocery store used to always have chunks from the middle of the wheel with no rind, and I discovered I much prefer that cut. These pieces are often irregularly shaped, I'm fine with that. Now, if I can't find a piece like that, I ask a cheese person to remove the rind and they always do so, no questions asked. (Some of them at least know me as a regular customer, but I don't think all of them do.) They also sell packages of just rinds.

Recently I was in Whole Foods, and asked for the same thing. The guy did it, but let me know he wouldn't do it again. "We pay for the rind, we expect you to pay for the rind."

What do you think? Is this a reasonable request, or should I be paying for a rind I don't want?

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  1. BS and next time I would consider taking the time to speak with a manager. My local WF has a stellar cheese department and customer service and would never do such a thing. They are all really well versed in their department and like sharing their knowledge.

    However, my pet peeve has always been their product displays. For the life of me I still don't know how parm got so expensive. At my local WF they often have a grand display of parm with expensive pasta, sauce and crackers with a bold sign $9.99 lb Parm and in tiny print rinds. The parm itself which has no signage is often $19.99 lb. It's a game of getting the distracted buyer to think they are getting something great on sale.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Bellachefa

      This guy seemed ... personality-disabled. It could be he is not from here and hasn't adapted to the culture. I told him that Central Market does it for me regularly and gives me no grief, and he told me he wasn't giving me grief ;)

      1. re: Bellachefa

        i find it hard to understand how anyone could think that imported parm at WF or at ANY decent cheese purveyor would cost any less than $20/lb.
        i guess if you haven't bought any of the stuff for years. . . .

        1. re: westsidegal

          per chow hound request, I have deleted the last line of my previous post.

          "what's with the insulting tone? It's clear from my post that I am quite aware of fine cheese in my demographic and pricing and how my local WF sells parm - often chunks without rind. I actually pick it up on sale for 14.99 - 16.99 and only a few years ago 9.99-11.99."

        1. Rind is part of the cheese, yes, you can look for rindless pieces, but I think you are wrong to ask for the rind of a perfectly good piece to be removed. The cost of the entire cheese is shared, and good retailers (like WF) know how to cut so that each piece has one rind edge, in order to be fair with all pieces. It's like saying you want to buy a soda, but don't want to pay for the can, so you'll drink it and pay less. But unlike a can, the rind is a very useful piece, and can be employed in many ways.

          Also, if anyone is getting parmigiano reggiano at $20/lb, you are making out like a bandit.

          Regarding the price- it's been running $20/lb plus for many years. The earthquake that destroyed 300,000 wheels in 2012: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012...

          Also effected the cost. This cheese ages for 2 years, and to have that much be damaged, this causes a shortage, and supply, demand, etc. takes care of the cost issue.

          8 Replies
          1. re: cheesemonger

            Costco usually has parmagiano reggiano stravecchio for $13.99/lb. But then, they have the buying power to negotiate a good price. I've noticed Trader Joe's has the same cheese for about a dollar more (but you don't have to buy as much!).

            1. re: cheesemonger

              Thanks, I was wondering why the price jumped a couple of years ago. I thought it might have been new import export taxes. Thanks for the link. My WF always has rindless available. As I posted above, that's how they cut it - some wedges with rind, some rindless and rinds sold separately. In my area parm over $20 would be very rare - knock on wood.

              1. re: cheesemonger

                Absolutely this. Yes, if you think you deserve special treatment and pricing feel free to have your cheese trimmed.

                In the same vein, I once knew a guy who tried to return stems and seeds to his street pharmacist for a rebate....that did not work.

                1. re: sbs401

                  Hahaha
                  Stems weigh barely anything anyway. Seeds? yuck.

                  1. re: sbs401

                    I said I wanted a piece without rind, which the store itself practically trained me to prefer by providing such pieces for sale on a regular basis for nearly a decade. I did not tell the store how to package or price the results. That they determined for themselves, on their own, without input from me.

                    I must say that given the insulting turn this thread has taken (what a surprise, here on Chowhound ...), it likely will be the last I ever start that invokes opinions in any way.

                    1. re: foiegras

                      foiegras, i don't think anyone intended to insult. i just direct you back to this from your OP: "I ask a cheese person to remove the rind and they always do so, no questions asked. (Some of them at least know me as a regular customer, but I don't think all of them do.)"

                      then, someone at WF refused, and said we don't do that -- and won't do it any more (more or less).

                      then you ask about your inquiry ---"What do you think? Is this a reasonable request, or should I be paying for a rind I don't want?"

                      there ya go....you asked and now you have the answer. most people here do not think it is a reasonable request IF you want to pay the same price as any other person for the "regularly cut" parm. i don't want the rind either. i can't expect the store to cut it that way for me specially without the rind. that's all. nothing personal.

                      as to why the store changed its policies...times are tough.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        I could not disagree more. Insults were made regardless of intent. And I have years of shopping that was questioned in which piles of rindless parm is sold beside wedges with rind for the same price.

                        1. re: Bellachefa

                          Regardless of YOUR experience, Bellachefa, Parmigiano is not usually sold in that manner. And, to tell the truth, I don't want it to be. Many places deceptively mislabel cheeses. The rind of Parmigiano Reggiano is always imprinted with that name over and over on the rind. It is the buyer's proof (s)he is getting the real thing for the money!

                2. it would be like going to the butcher, selecting a bone-in cut of meat, then insisting that you don't want any of the bone but you want to pay the bone-in price-per-pound for your boneless meat.

                  maybe you do that too!

                  while you're at it, if you're buying fish, get filets and insist that they sell them to you at the per-pound price that they charge for a whole, head-on, bones-in, fish.

                  your request would only be reasonable if you paid for the rind despite not taking the rind.

                  i think you should go back to your normal store which, in all probability is selling much lower quality domestic cheese with a higher margin. who knows? maybe what you're getting at your regular store may not even arrive at the store in the shape of a wheel in the first place.
                  or maybe the folks at your regular store don't know how to properly cut cheese into wedges and they end up with fractured parts due to their own ineptitude. in any case, your regular store is more in line with your needs.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: westsidegal

                    wait, maybe I'm feeling dense but that sounds a touch backwards.

                    1. re: hill food

                      expecting whole foods to sell you rindless parm for the same price that they sell the parm that includes the rind, seems backwards to me.

                      same principal.

                      the rind is the less valuable part of the cheese, in the same way that the bones are the less valuable part of a cut of meat.

                      to expect that the pricing should be the same for a "trimmed" piece of parm as for a "whole" piece of parm, is, the same as expecting a butcher/fishmonger to filet/bone a piece of meat or fish and to charge you the bone-in price per pound ON JUST THE FILET as a piece that hasn't been fileted.

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        ahh gotcha, it sorta sounded like one should be able to pick and choose among items already divided and still demanding to pay for the unused bones, rinds and bad memories.

                        1. re: hill food

                          whether the items were already divided or not, the logic is the same.

                          takes a lotta brass, imho, to demand that WF trim the rind off their ~$20/lb imported parm and then also insist that they be willing to sell you the rindless portion at the ~$20/lb price

                          if foiegras' regular store is willing to accommodate this, either their product is different, or their cheesemongers are inept, or their management is unaware of what's going on, or something is getting lost in the communication up the line about how their policies are playing out.

                          1. re: westsidegal

                            i agree -- that costs the store!

                            i can't imagine asking for rindless at the regular (with rind) price.

                            1. re: westsidegal

                              An additional explanation (that I happen to believe is correct) is that good customer service is highly valued at the gourmet grocery store where I regularly shop.

                              They will open any package in the store and allow a customer to sample on request. That isn't something some crazy person talked them into-that is official policy. They will split an already packaged item into smaller portions. Et cetera.

                              I am not a complete idiot--I understand that what I'm asking for is to my advantage, not the store's. I have been a regular customer since the day they opened more than a decade ago. I am willing to pay a premium to shop there. And--gnash your teeth--I will continue to ask for rind removal as necessary.

                              1. re: foiegras

                                why would i gnash my teeth? i don't have any financial stock in either store.

                                i simply answered the question that YOU ASKED (ya know, the question upon which the entire thread is based)
                                this one:

                                <<What do you think? Is this a reasonable request, or should I be paying for a rind I don't want?

                                <<What do you think? Is this a reasonable request, or should I be paying for a rind I don't want?>>

                                why'd you ask? certainly not because you wanted to hear any answers that were not supportive of your actions!
                                once you ask the question, it is reasonable to think that you might be open to an answer that doesn't support your position

                      2. re: westsidegal

                        My regular store is definitely selling imported cheese that is cut from a wheel in-house.

                        Your response seems quite patronizing--but perhaps I've completely misunderstood your tone.

                      3. I agree, one time OK as a customer service, after that you should know better.

                        1. If this store has been selling parm without rind and has now decided not to do this it may be an experienced supervisor finally noted the practice and said WTF.
                          When l helped the cheese depts of two W(t)Fs, l trained neophytes how to breakdown wheels of parm so most portions would get rind on one side only.
                          I also told customers to look for noses, the front and center part of an eighth or quarter as they had a smaller percentage of rind. I also made sure no pieces had no rind as that would be unfair to the other customers. If a piece broke while cutting it, we would sell the rind for soup and grate the cheese for sale that way for same reason. We would never sell a piece rindless as we paid for the rind and thus so should the customer.