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Aug 16, 2001 07:09 PM

Bay Area Chowhounds love cheese, form club!

  • l

A few threads down, I noted the love of cheese many of the 'hounds seem to share. (If you have any doubts, check out the recent devotional and rapturous outpourings regarding epoisses.) I was wondering if we might get a cheese or cheese and wine club together. A couple of fellow 'hounds on an earlier thread expressed interest. How do we go about this? I know we are all over the Bay Area. Does a weekend picnic sound like an idea? Anyone with cheese-love and/or fabulous logistical skills (I have the former, not so much the latter), please reply.

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  1. I'm game, and willing to do what I can. Can we get a show of hands as to how many people are interested in an initial meeting, at least? Weekday evening? Weekend afternoon? City? Peninsula? Perhaps a Senior Chowhound (Melanie comes to mind) can be the arbiter and decide from what may be very varied responses, when and where to meet.

    Does anyone have connections with a cheese seller who might have a venue available? Draeger's in San Mateo and Menlo Park and Mollie Stone's in Belmont come to mind. I haven't been around long enough to have sniffed out the cheese boutiques yet.

    I'll try to find the cheese person at Mollie's, and ask if there might be anything we can do. But it would help if we could say whether there might be 5 people or 50, and how much we are willing to spend.

    It might help to know what sort of price range chowhound dinners run in, and what sort of logistics are involved in dividing up organizational and monetary costs.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Pia R
      Burke and Wells

      Burke and I are in! We live in Sunnyvale, pretty far down the peninsula in the South Bay.

      We're quite willing to drive, though, so put us anywhere you'd like. San Francisco is fine, anywhere on the peninsula is fine...perhaps we can beg that it not take place in the East Bay, since crossing those bridges is such a nightmare.

      Otherwise, just let us know. We have no spending cap when it comes to good wine or cheese (did I just type that?).



      1. re: Burke and Wells

        Gee, this has to be the most rewarding website in cyberspace!

        Melanie is--no other word is possible--awesome in her knowledge and resourcefulness! Which place would you recommend for the first meeting, Melanie? Just say when!

        And Peter, I haven't met you, but I you're clearly made of the right stuff. I know exactly what you mean! The last thing one should skimp on is food. (It may mean I'll have to buy a smaller house, but food comes before shelter, right?)

        1. re: Pia R

          Thanks for the compliment, Pia. Yet, this is a wide-ranging community of chowhounds. We depend on a diversity of voices to keep this the best website on deliciousness. Sometimes I'm concerned that my name pops up too often and possibly discourages others from speaking up. All expert opinions are welcome to jump in the conversation.

          1. re: Pia R

            Aack! After a week without access, I'm back online and in the nick of time, it seems!

            I would LOVE to partake in a wine & cheese gathering. Hayes & Vine sounds wonderful and just up my alley. And it doesn't hurt that it's across the street from Amphora.

            Incredibly, I've found a stellar wine selection there of smaller producers that I haven't found elsewhere (Casa Castillo de Monastrell, Favorito Viognier... ).

            Please count me in, and let me know if there is anything I can do to help pull it together!

          2. re: Burke and Wells

            Peter, maybe you could scope out the situation at Danko when you're there for dinner? I've attended private wine tastings on weekday afternoons in the front area near the bar area. I'll be very intersted to hear your report on the cheese course.

            1. re: Burke and Wells

              Wow! You guys are fast! And I love the joie de vivre (especially Peter's "no cap" on good cheese--bravo). There is much on these postings but it sounds like Hayes and Vine might be a good starting place.It seems centrally located, especially as we have 'hounds coming from at least three counties. Any night of the week better for people? Before or after Labor Day? I know consensus is difficult, but it sounds like we should ride this wave (or should I say whey-ve) of cheese enthusiasm. I'm happy to call, just give me some info. Or, Melanie, since you mentioned that you know Lindsey, would this be a call you want to make? Thanks!

              1. re: Lise

                It will be faster if someone besides me talks to Lindsey to find out what's possible if you want to plan a special program. If you want to just reserve a table in the wine bar and enjoy the cheese and wine flight of the week, I can do that.

            2. re: Pia R

              Lots of good ideas. Pls. don't be discouraged if you don't get a big response immediately - many people are still on summer vacation. You'll get more turnout after Labor Day.

              You might want to check the LA board for a recent thread where our Celery answered several of these questions about organizing a chowhound meeting.

              While interest is building, you might want to take advantage of the turn-key cheese programs that are already in place, such as Hayes & Vine, for a smaller group. Haven't been in for a few months, but Lindsey probably still handles the cheese-buying. You could plan a flight of cheeses and wines with her. they'll let me reserve the back alcove on week nights which seats 6-8 people. Our first SF chowhound meet was here in January.

              Eos wine bar is available for groups during the hours the restaurant isn't open. You can reserve for wine tastings there with a selection from Say Cheese.

              Draeger's/Viognier in San Mateo has a nice function room upstairs. My friend is no longer with Viognier, so I don't have any special connections nor do I know what the minimums are.

              PlumpJack in SF has a private room with a separate entrance that I've used a couple times for dinners or tastings. There is a fairly steep food minimum but you don't have to pay corkage on any wines purchased from the retail store.

              Next week I'll be using the private room at Le Bistrot. We'll have 35 people seated at round tables of 6. George Aknin is the General Manager - I'll know him better after next week. He prefers to only order French cheeses since this is a French restaurant.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Thanks again, Melanie!

                I just checked out the long-ish thread on the LA board, and the system Celery describes makes the most sense. Sometimes a consensus is not the best way to go.

                You're right about getting a smaller group together, at least in the beginning. Both Hayes & Vine and Le Bistrot sounded particularly interesting, and focusing on a simple theme like French cheese with French wine might be an auspicious start.

                And I'll try to see what information I can get from Draeger's/Viognier in San Mateo, although I don't know anyone there, either.

                1. re: Pia R

                  Hayes & Vine would be practically turn-key. The other thing in the works is a field trip to Cowgirl Creamery in Tomales Bay.

              2. re: Pia R
                Randy Salenfriend

                I'm quite intrigued by all this fromage dialogue. I wonder what my friend Crozier thinks of all this? How about it??

              3. The best cheese selection I've found in San Francisco is at the Rainbow Grocery, Division at Folsom (1745 Folsom Street @ 13th).

                The cheeses are all very carefully picked by caring and knowledgable workers (who are also owners -- the place is a cooperative), and they are happy to discuss, recommend, and usually give you a sample (if the cheese is sampleable).

                I bought a beautiful epoisses there (at least that's what I think it was... it was a red, smelly soft cheese which tasted great) a few weeks ago -- they always have a nice selection of goat and sheep cheeses from France, Spain and Italy.

                For those who have not tried it, Rainbow is a great source for all kinds of interesting items. The selection is different from Whole Foods and the prices are usually a bit lower!

                1. Will you accept a cheese newbie? I don't know any thing about cheeses (except that I like almost every cheese I've eaten) but would love to learn from you masters. :)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Nancy Acton

                    Nancy, welcome! A number of chowhounds are working on setting up cheese classes - some on the peninsula, some in SF. Watch the boards for details and join us. We all want to learn more, and sharing knowledge is a pleasure.