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Nov 17, 2001 05:11 PM

gourmet cheese

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I'm transplanted from Cleveland (don't knock it until you try it) to Frederick, MD. I'm desperate for some nice european cheeses. I've found Sutton Place Gourmet in Bethesda and Fresh Fields in Rockville. Are there others? What about Baltimore area?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Brother Turophile:

    A few months ago, I went around trying to find some cherry-flavored gourmandise for dessert. After striking out at the obvious places, I found it at the super Giant in Rockville and Calvert-Woodley Liquors on Conn. Ave. (which describes itself, rather inelegantly, as "la cheeserie"). The latter had the nut-flavored variety, as well.

    6 Replies
    1. re: StephenB

      The Super Giant on the Pike does have some unusual cheeses on an irregular basis---but they're usually happy to order or inquire about special orders.

      That's not to say I'm thrilled with Giant these days. Mr. Danzansky is probably spinning in his grave over the "dumbing down" of most of his stores. Not to mention the employees. Like the deli guy who had no idea what knackwurst is. One of the older butcher dept. workers told me it was a very sad day when he had to tell his customers that the stuff behind the counter is now exactly the same as the pre-wrapped stuff in the cold cases.

      By the way, I'm glad to see I'm not the only old-timer calling that store the "super giant." You know the one we're talking about, it's one on the Pike, just beyond Korvettes.

      1. re: joanek

        Korvettes? Oh boy, suddenly I feel very old - certainly too old to navigate the heavy traffic on the Cabin John bridge...

        1. re: coastcat

          Too old for the Cabin John bridge? Then how would you get any of that great chili at Trav's in Glen Echo?

          1. re: Joanek

            Trav's? What's that? I live a few blocks from Glen Echo but, sadly, have no knowledge of great chili nearby. Do tell.


            1. re: Marty L.

              Trav's is, um, was, a bar of ill repute (or at least that's what they told us to keep us away)on the site of The Inn At Glen Echo. It was grimy, had loads of bikes in the lot and spilling off the porch, and served great chili. Fights, brawls, they had it all. It was a real bar. Ladies did not go in unescorted night, though I seem to remember ladies being welcome for lunch at the bar. I grew up in one of those houses on the Hill overlooking the Park and we were scared to death of the place. That said, I do remember my parents saying they were made to feel somewhat at home when they wandered in, unknowingly, one summer evening. I don't believe they ever went back, though.

              They were very strict about ID's, too---so I only made it in once before the transformation.

              and I remember the first time I saw it after the change---hard to believe it's the same place!

              As far as I know, you can still get Trav's chili if you sit at the bar of the Inn. Sandwiches are good, too. As is most everything. And the bar is the same one they've had for years, too. I forget the age, but they'll be glad to give you the history of the place.

              Check out the photos, they should give you some idea of what Trav's looked like.

      2. re: StephenB

        Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I'll try those places. Anyone ever seen any Welsh cheeses? Black mountain and Red dragon are sooo good. Zora where do you buy these artisinal cheeses?

      3. The following is from a publication called Lodging News:

        "At Galileo, Roberto Donna’s flagship restaurant in Washington, D.C., Donna erected a 10-by-10-foot glass-and-marble stainless-steel structure that resembles a bank vault with windows.

        "The above-ground cellar holds as many as 75 cheeses at a chilly 45Þ F with 80 percent humidity. Inventory changes daily and might include Asiago, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Saga Blue, wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano, pecorino, and jars of homemade Bruss, a soft, pungent, fermented mixture flavored with grappa. Each morning, Mastro Formaggio Iginio Pignatelli compiles a computerized list guests are invited to peruse. Pignatelli answers questions and offers suggestions. Evenings, cheeses are showcased on a cart designed by local furniture artisan Thomas Swift."

        1. Aldo Molina is the cheese buyer there (he's at the store Friday/Sat/Sunday), and he has the best selection I've found, especially farmhouse cheddars, artisanal French goats and Pyrenees. No one else in this area is as serious.


          1 Reply
          1. re: Jake Parrott

            I second Jake's recommendation of Dean and Deluca. You'll pay top $$, but the selection is awesome and the quality is unmatched for special cheeses. They carry imported and artisanal U.S. cheeses that you can't find elsewhere in DC. Sutton Place Gourmet also has a lovely, if somewhat less extensive, selection of cheeses at comparable (and sometimes gentler) prices. For parmesan reggiano and other staples, try Trader Joe's and Costco--their prices can't be beat!

          2. All Fresh Fields stores are not alike--the cheese departments are better in the Georgetown and Arlington stores, although the Tenleytown store is the only one where I can count on finding Chatham Hudson Valley Camembert, made with sheep's milk--it's incrdibly good, better than any locally available French camembert I've tasted. Which leads me to ask: has your yen for european cheese kept you from discovering some really fine artisanal American cheeses? There are some excellent cheeses being made in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont (maybe MD as well -- haven't tasted any yet, but I'm open to it!)

            Check out Trader Joe's for a reasonable selection at lower cost. Also--Costco/Price Club has the best price on Reggiano in the region-o, also brie and Saga blue.

            2 Replies
            1. re: zora

              I must respectfully disagree about Trader Joes for cheese. Excellent selection, very poor quality. I second the recommendation for good quality and selection at Dean and DeLuca in Georgetown (but pricey).

              1. re: Susan

                My experience with Trader Joe's cheeses has also been less than favorable. I really love many of their products, but their cheeses have dissapointed me. I don't think they have been kept properly, and they spoil far too quickly.

            2. I haven't been here yet, but Baltimore's first fromagerie just opened. It's called Combalou -- I think it's at the intersection of Calvert & Read Streets. Supposedly they are going to eventually carry 200+ cheeses in their retail section, there's also a cafe, and the owner is a guy who already runs a local cheese importer ("The Great Cheese"). There's a fairly long writeup in this month's Baltimore Magazine, if you want more details.