By Maddy Vitale
Hot pepper jam, blueberry cheddar, fine balsamic vinegars from Italy and olive oils from around the country may not seem to go together.
But if you walk into City 2 Shore Gourmet, 709 Asbury Ave. in Ocean City, you will see they make the perfect blend. An eclectic assortment of delicious foods and condiments are just some things that owner, Jackie Dougherty, of Ocean City, offers to her customers. She greets every patron with a warm, welcoming smile, and gives anyone who will try, taste tests of cheese and pimento spreads and other delicious treats, as well as dips of a wide assortment of her balsamic vinegars.
Ann Filling, of Mays Landing, stopped in for her favorite blueberry cheddar and a bottle of balsamic vinegar on Thursday.
“There isn’t anything on this earth that is better,” she said.
Wendi Lindberg, of Ocean City, said she had to do some last-minute Christmas shopping, but had to stop in for a bottle of balsamic vinegar. She tasted a few blends, selected one, and left with the bottle and some other goodies.
Another customer walked in and ordered his usual, several jars of hot pepper jam and honey.
Dougherty, wearing an apron, walked around the narrow but homey feeling shop and chatted, then walked behind her cutting table, chopped some cheese into squares, poked toothpicks in a few, sliced a honey crisp apple, and put a spread on a few crackers. She offered them to her customers, anxiously awaiting some taste testers.
“I get to work seven days a week,” Dougherty chuckled. “There’s nothing else I would rather do.”
When it comes to cheeses – they are from Wisconsin, and there are a multitude to try – such as the blueberry cheddar, mozzarella, horseradish cheese, ghost pepper jack cheese and Havarti, to name just some. Prices range from about $9 up to $12.
The $12 cheeses, Dougherty said, include a 7-year-old cheddar and are worth every penny.
Her shop consists of products from business owners she met through farmers markets and street, wine and cheese festivals. Her balsamic vinegars are her own line – Divino – produced and bottled in Italy. Her honey, peanut butters, hot pepper jelly and gluten-free granola are mostly from local people she met along the way, many of whom she now considers friends.
The vinegars start at $22 a bottle, or two bottles for $40. Her olive oils are $20 and up. Several years ago, she became interested in olive oils and went for her certification as a sommelier of olive oil.
“People ask me what that means, and I just say, ‘I know more about olive oil then you do,’” she joked. “I really didn’t intend to get the certification but when I look back now, I am glad I did.”
One of Dougherty’s favorite treats is the gluten-free granola. She likes to snack on them, she said. The cost per bag is $9. To top Dougherty’s array of offerings, are sea salts from a teacher of hers in a culinary program.
Dougherty, a widow and mother of twin 23-year-old girls, opened her online store in 2010, and moved into her storefront on Asbury Avenue last year.
“In 2012, my girls left home and people told me I had to get out of the house,” she said.
That wasn’t difficult for Dougherty to conceptualize, considering she was a corporate headhunter for nine years. Before that she owned two lunch trucks.
“It’s all because of God that I have been able to do this. I couldn’t have done it without my faith,” Dougherty said. “I have met so many wonderful people through my business. It has been an incredible journey.”
For more information call 609-525-0339 or visit http://city2shoregourmet.com/.