There once was a time when gourmet cheeses were only set out for special occasions or included in a cellophane-sealed gift basket containing peculiar meat products and water crackers. But now, as the American palate becomes more accustomed to gastronomy and artisan cuisine, gourmet cheese has become not only the preferred but the norm. Whipped, creamy, cubed, melted or fried, one thing is for sure, cheese makes everything better. Jan. 20 is National Cheese Day, so check out these five cheese stores for the best selections.
The Cheese Store of Silverlake
3926 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90029
Like fine wine, cheese comes from all over the world, and The Cheese Store of Silverlake boasts some of the best. Cheeses from Ireland, Belgium, Portugal, England, Spain, Tasmania, France, Canada, Switzerland, Cypress, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands and, of course, the good old US of A are accessible seven days a week. Whether you’re looking for something different to spice up your grilled cheese sandwich, assembling a modest party tray or amassing an impressive gift basket for the boss, The Cheese Store of Silverlake can handle all your fromage needs.
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The Cheese Box at Wally’s
2107 Westwood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Once through the door, cheese lovers will think they’ve died and gone to cheese heaven with almost 200 varieties of cheeses at their fingertips. Ten and 12-year aged Wisconsin cheddar, ferme du jouvence camembert, honey-lavender fromage, stichelton and gouda made from coconut milk are just a few of the extraordinary finds at Wally’s. A knowledgeable staff will help you pair your cheeses with wine, champagne, chocolate, caviar and other treasures lining the shelves. The Cheese Box at Wally’s may be a bit pricey, but the quality of service and products are worth every penny.
Andrew’s Cheese Shop
728 Montana Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Known as the stinkiest shop on Montana Avenue, Andrew’s Cheese Shop is nothing short of a delight for cheese fans. Friendly and inviting, the staff cordially guides customers through the more than 150-cheese selection to suit not only their taste buds but their budgets as well. Samples and recommendations are happily offered. All cheese purchases come with a cheese card that gives its history and recommended pairings. While Andrew’s doesn’t provide seating, customers can order sandwiches and dine at the open eating area next door. For the cheese fanatics, there’s mozzarella madness, a mozz-making class, and monthly grilled cheese and beer-pairing events.
The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills
419 N Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Another shop that stinks up the neighborhood is the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. With hundreds of cheeses in store and more that rotate in and out based on season, exporters and the FDA approval, CSoBH is considered the Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory of cheese. While it boasts a long list of the familiar (and every pairing possible), some of the harder-to-find cheeses like Spain’s manchego and Italy’s la tur are almost always in stock. Located one block east of Rodeo Drive CSoBH offers free parking, messenger service for local deliveries and curbside pickup. Wine tasting and private dining events are available after hours.
Artisan Cheese Gallery
12023 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604
More of a communal eatery than a cheese shop, the Artisan Cheese Gallery features a long menu of delicious salads, sandwiches and hot-pressed paninis all topped with unique and flavorful cheeses. Priding itself on cheeses you can’t find anywhere else, the Artisan Cheese Gallery boasts a rotating selection of something for everyone. The duck confit-fig jam, Barely Buzzed cheddar with espresso and lavender, le marechal cheese on ciabattina, roast beef, the Barely Buzzed-sautéed mushrooms, aioli and romaine lettuce on a baguette, and a mozzarella pesto panini with roasted tomatoes, house-made basil pesto and fresh mozzarella on ciabattina are just a few of the favorites here.
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615 N La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Located on La Brea, Cube is much more than a restaurant. Doubling as small market, Cube Café, Cheese Bar, & Marketplace offers a wide variety of the world’s finest cheeses. A menu separates hard/semi hard from semi-soft and soft cheeses as well as bloomy and blue cheeses. In addition, select your favorite salami and wine offerings of wine to pair with it.
Since fancy cheese is a bit of an indulgence, allow us this bit of indulgence in including Cube’s Cheese Bar, which is best experienced as a seated diner. The restaurant, which doubles as a small market, is much-lauded for their cheese program, and stocked bar of global cheese delights. Pull up a chair and enjoy a cheeseperience and up your personal cheese intel. Plenty of tasty wines to choose from too.
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Kristine G. Bottone is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.