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Cheese Cart?

  • p
  • Peter and Gary Aug 13, 2001 06:54 PM

Hi Chowhounds--

Just got back from three weeks in France and fell in love with great cheese courses.

WHERE in the Bay Area can I get a real cheese course? With a cart full of great cheeses, hopefully even the unpasturized masterpieces of France?

Thanks in advance!

Peter

Link: http://www.burkeandwells.com

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  1. The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton has a great cheese cart.

    Other places offer cheese courses, but I think most of them give you pre-selected plates.

    Or check out the "favorite cheese shop" discussion and put together your own cheese course!

    1. Gary Danko has a great one. His (now) ex-partner and maitre'd, Nick Peyton, set up a great one there. Peyton was also responsible for taking the cheese cart at The Restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton to new heights.

      10 Replies
      1. re: srf1

        In case you missed it, here's a link to Peter and Gary's report on the greatest meal of their lives in France.

        Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          After reading their story, these guys just made me want to go to France again. Last time, I visitted Paris and was not able to find a worthwhile gourmet restaurant. I only had two days there and busy sightseeing.

          1. re: Han Lukito

            Han, you're among chowhounds now. Stick with us and you'll find lots of Paris eating tips on the International Board for next time.

            1. re: Han Lukito
              b
              Burke and Wells

              France was such a food experience it's made us want to move there and never go another day without Berthillon ice cream or Bernachon chocolate. A day that begins with a true croissant is a day that can never be all bad.

              Meanwhile, we've found great stuff here in the South Bay and we'll be posting it all here, so perhaps we can help?

              Take care!

              Peter
              wells@emusic.com

              Link: http://www.burkeandwells.com

            2. re: Melanie Wong

              I read that description on the Int. Bd.

              I drooled.

              I wished I had both the money and the level of discernment to have an experience like that.

              I forwarded the link to a couple of people and entitled it "read it and weep". I didn't know the authors frequented the SF board, although I should have guessed. Thanks for the vicarious experience, guys!

              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                b
                Burke and Wells

                Our pleasure, Ruth, and more coming like it!

                It's high time we started giving back to Chowhounds SF Bay Area as much as it's given us.

                We'll have them on our site (link below), but we'll be sure to post any food-related reviews here also.

                Take care!

                Peter
                wells@emusic.com

                Link: http://www.burkeandwells.com

              2. re: Melanie Wong

                Great post - thanks for the link. We've eaten at Guy Savoy twice and he is INCREDIBLE!! Here's my response if you want to read it:

                Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                1. re: srf1

                  You're welcome. Thought that link would elicit a warm welcome from their home community.

                2. re: Melanie Wong
                  b
                  Burke and Wells

                  That's so kind of you to steer folks to that review! I didn't think it fit here on SF Bay, but it's really the review that says the most about our trip.

                  Thank you so much! More like it are on our site (link below), but we'll be posting food reviews here too.

                  Peter
                  wells@emusic.com

                  Link: http://www.burkeandwells.com

                3. re: srf1
                  b
                  Burke and Wells

                  Check, the Ritz Carlton and Gary Danko!

                  Actually, Gary Danko was on our list already, this is just another reason to go.

                  Not that we need an excuse. Ever get the urge to follow the cheese cart around the restaurant like an infatuated puppy? We do.

                  Peter
                  wells@emusic.com

                  Link: http://www.burkeandwells.com

                4. I love a great cheese course too. The perfect way to finish up the last of the dinner wines and extend the conversation at the table.

                  As Ruth mentioned, restaurants with a cheese course will often opt for a pre-selected plate rather than the cart. While I don't like the restriction of choice, the cheeses are often in better condition this way and priced less since the restaurant can age to perfection and has less waste.

                  Here's the link to an earlier thread on favorite cheese shops that has been revived in the last couple days with some new entries.

                  Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Melanie Wong
                    b
                    Burke and Wells

                    Aha! Thanks for that link. There's reading for a few years. :) How to pick a single one!

                    Since we're South Bay residents, our place has been The Cheese Shop in Carmel. A drive, but worth it.

                    We'll read this thread and act on it!

                    Thanks again.

                    Peter
                    wells@emusic.com

                    Link: http://www.burkeandwells.com

                    1. re: Burke and Wells

                      Now that I know you're in the South Bay, here's a link to my post on a dinner a year ago at A P Stump's in downtown San Jose. If I remember correctly, the cheese course is priced based on 2, 3, or 4 types of cheese from the selection for the week. The cheeses were in very good condition.

                      Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                  2. I hope you went to Barthelmy when you were in Paris! Now that's a cheese shop. Here, I really enjoy creating my own cheese course by going to Artisan Cheese on California at Fillmore. Small selection but excellent--try the Herbiette and the Fruite-Conte (accent aigu on both E's). I've also found that Dean and Deluca in St.Helena/Rutherford has great cheese (they are actually ripe) and they had a simple cheese I loved and had had in Normandy--"brique de vache"--that I haven't seen elsewhere. (And if you're ever in Cambridge, MA, go to Formaggio--the proprietor has a cheese cave to ripen cheeses.)As for a dining out cheese course, I too would stick with Gary Danko. I did have a three cheese course yesterday at the CIA and the gorgonzola dolce was truly excellent. But there's nothing like being able to pick your cheese from a cheese cart! Ah, for a slice of Epoisses.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: Lise

                      A perfectly ripe Epoisses is my idea of heaven.

                      Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                      1. re: Melanie Wong
                        b
                        Burke and Wells

                        In a little town called Vieux de Castillon in Provence we had an Epoisses that...how do you define it?

                        You probably already know about the 'soul,' that part of the cheese that ages last. Any washed-rind cheese will ripen outside-in, and if it's timed just right the center is a slightly less viscous, whiter patch, the 'soul' of the cheese.

                        Boy, you should have tasted the soul in that Epoisses! Against the smooth creamy texture of the cheese it was...heavenly.

                        Peter
                        wells@emusic.com

                        Link: http://www.burkeandwells.com

                        1. re: Burke and Wells

                          How lovely! Once you have smelled and tasted epoisses, you never forget. Click below to see what love of epoisses drives some to do ...

                          Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            I have an unexpected weekday off today, and with all this talk, I'm heading out for dim sum and a trip to the Cheese Board.

                            So if anyone can respond right away:

                            1. How do you pronounce "epoisses"? Is eh-pwah-say close?

                            2. Any other favorite exotic cheeses I should try?

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler
                              b
                              Burke and Wells

                              Hi Ruth--

                              Hope this catches you!

                              I believe it's pronounced "ay puh was"--the last 'es' is silent.

                              I've no idea how good The Cheese Board is (never been) but from the reviews I've read you won't go wrong there. :)

                              Good luck!

                              Peter
                              wells@emusic.com

                              Link: http://www.burkeandwells.com

                              1. re: Burke and Wells

                                Thanks for both prompt replies.

                                I'll let you know what I find.

                                --Ruth

                              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                Consistent with the French tendency to drop ending consonants and vowels, it's pronounced more like eh-PWAHS.

                                Been a while since I've checked for it at Cheese Board, but they did not carry it because the unpasteurized versions (due to being aged less than 60 days) are essentially contraband. But maybe you'll luck out. If pasteurized ones are offered to you, those should be eaten very young, as they will not age to the state of perfection of the cru lait ones.

                                Other washed rinds cheeses that could substitute would be Alsatian Muenster or Ami du Chambertin.

                            2. re: Burke and Wells

                              All this talk of epoisses! I'm almost frantic with great cheese yearning. Not to mention tremendous jealousy for your having been to Barthelmy. (Heave a heavy sigh.) Glad to know this sub-set of chowhounds--i.e. cheese fiends--are alive and well in the Bay Area. Perhaps we'll have to do a spin on the chowhound dinner: a cheese tasting! And I'm sure our gourmet-guru, Melanie, could steer us in the right direction for wine and cheese pairings. And, Melanie, where have you found a good Alsatian Muenster? I've seen it at Oakville Grocery (the ones in Healdsburg and in Palo Alto) and often it's been either underripe or with the ammoniated smell of the overripe.

                              1. re: Lise

                                We were able to get a suitably ripe but not overripe piece at the Healdsburg Oakville Grocery a year ago, but I don't doubt that this was a lucky occurrence. It was part of the buffet following a tasting of 1994 Alsatian Gewurztraminers which are the perfect match. Both are assertively aromatic, aggressively flavored and powerful. We had to leave the cheese in the laundry room, two rooms away from the table so that it's aroma didn't interfere with the blind tasting of the wines!

                          2. re: Lise
                            b
                            Burke and Wells

                            We did indeed visit Barthelmy and several other top fromageries!

                            Thanks for steering us to Dean and Deluca, we'll put it on our to-do list, right next to Gary Danko. We've also been to the CIA Greystone half a dozen times and had some wonderful cheeses, though we still crave a cart.

                            Agreed, a ripe cheese is a thing of beauty. We happened to be in France during the very best time for Epoisses, so you can imagine we went a little mad.

                            Thanks, more to come!

                            Peter
                            wells@emusic.com

                            Link: http://www.burkeandwells.com

                          3. I'm afraid you may have to resort to creating your own
                            cheese cart out here. But there's fun in that, too, if you can find a good supplier. Draeger's (your favorite supermarket, I understand) has a very good cheese department. But have you been to Mollie Stone's in Belmont (El Camino & 42nd)? They have a selection that is even better, I think, and a very knowledgeable, and enthusiastic person in charge. Ask for Marcy and you won't go wrong.

                            Like you and Melanie, I became utterly enamored of good epoisses. October 20, 1996, lunch at Jules Verne, the cheese cart was presented and that irresistible aroma was unleashed. The unctuous stuff redefined the possibilites of cheese for me, and I have never ceased to look for epoisses in any lineup of cheeses.

                            Unfortunately, it is not easy to find good epoisses here. The specimens I've seen here are often either shriveled or patently overripe.

                            If you can be consoled with other, very different cheeses, a couple I can highly recommend are the Pie (with accent grave) d'Angloys and the Sottocenere al Tartufo at Mollie Stone's. And have you ever had a small, soft-centered cabecou baked on thin slices of green apple and placed on a bed of salad greens, dressed with walnut oil and balsamic vinegar?

                            If you do find a good source of epoisses, do let me know!

                            12 Replies
                            1. re: Pia R

                              "Pie (with accent grave) d'Angloys" - thanks for mentioning this. Not having studied French, there are words that I know from conversatin but have no idea how they're spelled. I did a web search and upon seeing the description and picture was pleased to put the two together so that I can find it again. Another beauty from Burgundy, have you seen it here?

                              Last night I was the guest of the GM at Le Bistrot (California St/Jones, SF) for a cheese tasting to pick the selection for a wine seminar I'm giving next week (sorry, sold out) at the restaurant. For the styles of red wines we'll be trying, I decided on the aged Bucheron, Petit Basque and he'll order the St. Marcellin (which will hit the spot with our Rhone red). Also good was the Pave' d'affinois but this is more of a white wine or dessert cheese. The restaurant features 7 cheeses on a rotating basis and you can order them individually from the menu or as an assortment.

                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                My own French is rudimentary, though my menu French is almost fluent--motivation being the key difference. And as for the Pie (accent grave, or is it accent aigu?) d'Angloys, I first tried it at Mollie Stone's in Belmont a couple of months ago. There is a Mollie Stone's in the city, too, and you can get more information at molliestones.com. The staff at Belmont are always most obliging, and you could give Marcy, the cheese department head, a call at (650) 372-2828 to request whatever cheese you want. She was the one who introduced me to the Pie and the Sottocenere.

                                I'm glad to hear that your wine seminar is doing so well as to be sold out, and sorry that I hadn't heard about it earlier. Please, do let us know when another such event will be held.

                                When I lived in Manila, I used to attend a monthly gathering of the Cheese Club. It has 250 members who meet monthly. And such is the enthusiasm of this group that we would regularly have around 20-30 cheeses, mostly French and Italian, and about 10 wines, mostly European and Australian. Does anything like this club exist here? If not, are there any Chowhounds out there who would like to try to organize something along those lines? There really is nothing like it for keeping one's cheese palate in shape. Pairing wines and cheeses is another art I would really like to work at. . .

                                1. re: Pia R

                                  Well, Pia, if you need club members for a Bay Area cheese or, better yet, cheese and wine club, count me in!

                                  1. re: Lise
                                    b
                                    Burke and Wells

                                    Cheese club? Wine club? Cheese and wine club?

                                    Count us in!

                                    Should we take this out of the "cheese cart" thread to bring it to other SF Bay Chowhounders' attentions? How about someone with seniority do it, we're the new kids on the block, so to speak.

                                    Peter
                                    wells@emusic.com

                                    Link: http://www.burkeandwells.com

                                    1. re: Burke and Wells

                                      A cheese and wine club with educational sessions is a great idea. Creighton's Cheese has cheese classes, but the basic 3 session class is held only twice a year.

                                      1. re: elise h

                                        I wonder whether Creighton's would offer classes for a group upon request.

                                        1. re: Nancy Berry

                                          I called Creightons and they can do it. I asked for a one night session and they would charge $40/person. I don't know if they serve complementing wines with the cheeses and can find out. Their normal 3 session course is $75 total. We might be able to go that route as well.

                                          1. re: Nancy Berry
                                            j
                                            Judy Creighton

                                            I would certainly offer cheese classes for a group. I love cheesehounds (turophiles) and it's always a pleasure to offer one of my basic cheese tasting classes or tailor one to fit a group's special interests. So many cheeses, so many tastes, it's fun to explore in a private tasting. Otherwise, we have regularly scheduled tastings, call us at 415-753-0750 and ask us to send you a schedule. Thanks for asking.

                                            1. re: Judy Creighton
                                              j
                                              JenniferFishWilson

                                              Sounds wonderful. What's the maximum you'd recommend for a cheese class? (Maximum students not cheeses)

                                              1. re: JenniferFishWilson

                                                This is great! More cheese classes. Cheese knowledge in every chowhouse. Cheese experts from all over the Bay Area sharing their wisdom. The Artisan classes run from September 20 through October 11. What about scheduling the Creighton classes after that?

                                        2. re: Burke and Wells

                                          Well, we certainly have the interest. Now what do we do? I'm a relative newbie in terms of posting, so I don't know how we go about this real-life organizing aspect. I will post a new "cheese club hoping to form" so others can see (this posting is pretty well embedded).

                                      2. re: Pia R

                                        Thanks, Pia. The wine seminar is a one-off that I'm doing as a fundraiser for a non-profit. We were all stunned when it sold out less than 12 hours after the announcement was e-mailed to the membership.

                                        If you're still looking for a wine class, I did post some additional information on that thread. Of course, Fatemeh can offer first-hand experience.

                                        We talked about the cheese threads of the last few days at our chowhound dinner tonight and interest in a cheese tasting was expressed. Our discussion here has barely scratched the surface of French cheeses, and there are so many Italian, Spanish, British, Irish, and our own local cheeses to explore.