Whether they were traveling through the colorful coastline of Cinque Terre or perusing quaint artisan shops of Paris, the Alvarengas always made it a point to stop and taste the cheese.
But Connie Alverenga says it’s hard to credit any one destination for inspiring Fior Di Latte, a specialty charcuterie shop that she and her husband Steven will open within The Hangar dining hall at Long Beach Exchange on Saturday, April 29.
Connie and Steven, both Long Beach locals, met when they were 17.
“We’re actually high school sweethearts,” she said.
Over the years, the pair explored several different countries together, though their favorite memories—and flavors—belong to Italy. And now, so does the name of their first business together.
“It’s an Italian word that means flower of milk,” Connie said. “The flower kind of symbolizes the end product after the milk is stretched and mixed. So to us, we wanted to incorporate it within our store to represent our process from beginning to end.”
Fior Di Latte is also a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese that is similar to mozzarella cheese.
Just to back up, for those who don’t know, charcuterie is a French term for cured meat, and while “charcuterie boards” were assembled as far back as 15th century France, the meat and cheese-chocked platters became a social media sensation during the pandemic.
During the long first few months of lockdown, the Alvarengas, no longer able to travel, hunkered down in their home and started thinking of what they could do to make a living and how they could share their well-traveled cheese obsession with Long Beach. But before they settled on the idea of a charcuterie venture, they started renting out their vintage Airstream trailer to locals.
“But then, as time progressed, we continued to think about new ways to bring new experiences to Long Beach,” Connie said. “And so that’s when we started thinking about opening up a cheese/charcuterie store.”
While she doesn’t want the shop to be thought of primarily as a cheese shop, Alvarenga says the site will offer luxury artisan cheeses from up and down the state—from espresso-bean-laced El Californio to the stout-infused craft beer cheddar. Other selections will come from Texas, Wisconsin and beyond.
Primarily, they will showcase their unique take on charcuterie, which will be pre-assembled in boxes that LBX guests can grab on the go or share with a group right in the dining hall.
Boxes are $15, $40 and $65 and all include cured meats, artisan cheeses as well as an assortment of nuts, crackers, fresh and dried fruit and other finger food goodies. Eventually, they will add a children’s box as well as a vegan box.
“So, there’s going to be a little bit for everyone,” she said.
Beginning April 29, Fior Di Latte will be open within The Hangar Food Hall at Long Beach Exchange, 4150 McGowen St., Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 6 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 7 p.m.