Alfonso Gourmet Olive Oil & Balsamics  celebrated its second year at St. Philip’s Plaza last weekend by rolling out a partnership with a Tucson cheesemonger.

In January, Alfonso will open its second location, in Plaza Escondida at Oracle and Magee roads in Oro Valley, said owner Tom Alfonso.

Alfonso said his partnership with Tana Fryer and her Blu the Cheese Shop at Alfonso was a natural next step. Fryer had been offering her artisanal cheeses from Alfonso’s shop at the weekly St. Philip’s Plaza farmers markets for months.

And, Alfonso points out, cheese is a natural complement for his line of olive oils and balsamic vinegars.

Fryer said her small cheese counter at Alfonso is the first of three she plans to open. As early as January, she plans to open Blu, A Wine and Cheese Stop that will serve small plates, Arizona wines and craft beers and artisanal cheeses at the Mercado San Agustín. She also plans to team up with Alfonso in Oro Valley early next year.

Fryer has been selling cheese in Tucson since 2012.

Among the places that serve her artisanal cheeses is Lodge on the Desert, Riley’s Craft Pizza, Renee’s Organic Oven and Falora.

Blu at Alfonso sells cut-to-order cheeses, most crafted in the United States. She also carries hard-to-find European cheeses.

“I think that you’re seeing a rise in awareness of handcrafted products again from wine and beer as well as an awareness of where our food is coming. And cheese is part of that,” she said.

Fryer said that the popularity of the region’s wine country also is increasing popularity in artisanal cheeses.

Blu is one of only a few cheese shops in Tucson.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at or 573-4642.

I cover music for the Arizona Daily Star.