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Apr 29, 2000 09:03 AM

Really...REALLY good French cheeses Vachrin

  • d

OK...... I'm looking.
Where the heck in this this town Of Phila. do I find a GREAT cheese shop with the kind of seclection they have at Dean an DeLuca in NYC .....or The NYC ???
I'm talking about those marvelous cheeses that make you
cry as they spread accross your taste buds.

I would LOVE to find a good shop.
ANybody have any suggestions ???


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  1. The shop in the Reading Terminal Market seems good; and believe it or not, Fresh Fields has a nice selection too.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Greg

      I've been to Fresh Fields in Jenkintown and North Wales....
      The selection is just OK.
      I'm looking for STELLAR ! in NYC.
      That's where they have the REALLY good stuff.
      Maybe the one in downtown Phila. has a better selection. I'll have to check it out.
      Thanks for your post.
      Let me know if you have any other ideas.
      I'll check out the R. Terminal market.

      1. re: Greg

        You might also loook at the Zagara's that just opened in Jenkintown up the road from the Fresh Fields. I was there a month ago, and their cheese selection was extensive, thought I don't know about the specific French cheese you were looking for. I have found excellent Reggiano, Morbier, and other cheeses there. It is at the Noble Shopping Center off Old York Road in Jenkintown. Opened in February or so. Apparently the original Zagara's is in New Jersey. It will be interesting to see if Fresh Fields and Zagara's can coexist, although I do not see a lot of cooking going on in Jenkintown from the crowds at either. Good luck.
        BTW, I was at the Reading Terminal Market right before Easter and they have a lot of cheeses at a number of stands, although they seem pricey to me. Try DiBruno's or Claudio's King of Cheese in the ITalian Market as well. Best prices in town.

        1. re: susanp

          I actually live a mile from yes I have been to both of those stores.
          I have not been to Claudio's in the Italian market.
          I'll check it out.
          Thanks again

          1. re: susanp

            I find Zagara's way overpriced. It used to be the only game in town, and as such, was invaluable. Fresh Fields in Marlton gives Zagara's some needed competition, though the product lines only overlap in some areas. Surprisingly, the Marlton Fresh Fields produce quality can be poor to ordinary, and Zagara's is usually better, particularly the new one on route 38 near 295. In fact, that new Zagara's is quite nice, and even carries wine, which if you understand NJ wine laws, is amazing!

            Reggiano - quality at Zagara's and Fresh Fields is inconsistent. If you can get there, I find the stuff at Wegman's in Princeton terrific.

            1. re: Bilmo

              For you Pennsylvanians out there, there is a Wegmans up in the Allentown area too. They do have a lot of cheeses.

        2. If you are only looking for something as good as Dean & DeLuca or Fairway, there are a lot in Philly. Now, don't compare them to any little farmer's market in France though! There are actually two cheese shops in Reading Terminal Market. Plus, how about DiBruno Brothers. They are down at the Italian Market or if it is more convenient for you, they have a nice little shop with cheese, olives, etc. etc. etc. on 18th just north of Rittenhouse Square. Yes, Freshfields is good too - all pre-packaged by the store, but fresh and good. Lastly, do you live in the western suburbs? Checkout the cheeseshop at Gateway shopping center. They are very helpful. Chestnut Hill? - Chestnut Hill Cheese shop is good. And as a plug for Phila. and a dig at NYC, at none of these places will you have to wait and wait and push and push to get your cheese.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Valerie

            DiBruno is an excellent source for Italian cheeses. The rest... C'mon, they are single A baseball next to the great NYC stores. To non-Philly readers, you have to understand, Philadelphians have a huge inferiority complex with respect to NYC. There is much to recommend Philly. But, they love to trumpet their town as one of the best food/restaurant cities in the country. Well, it just ain't true.

            1. re: Bilmo

              That's OK.
              I was raised here and I never have expected much.
              Thanks for your post.

              1. re: DAC

                New York City is the closest thing this planet has to a capital. It's not really fair to compare Philadelphia to it. Yes, they're close, Yes, they're both examples of quintessential American cities. But New York has far more resources (culturally and financially) to draw from.

                That being said, Philadelphia is a great food city. For its size, for its location, for everything. I mean, come on, we have what many consider to be the best French restaurant in the country here (Le Bec Fin), and two or three other restaurants where the caliber of the food is just as high (at least according to Zagat's).

                Just my $.02

                1. re: Kristy

                  Here here!

                  Personally, I go to Philly every chance I get. There are many things you can get in Philly that you can't in NYC (to name just a few: GOOD Belgian bar/restaurants, good ribs, good Burmese, Hair of the Dog beer, Pink Rose's excellent cakes, good expensive fried shrimp in impoverished nabes, and, of course, cheese steak).

                  It doesn't have a ton of destinationish four star places, but neither do many towns its size. For a chowhound, who's interested in finding and enjoying the best of whatever kind of cooking a city does best, Philly is an excellent place. And, like DC, it's totally not picked-over. There are dozens and dozens of places nobody's ever written about and nobody ever talks about where your chowhounding efforts will pay off with jackpot results. It's ripe for the picking.


                  1. re: Kristy

                    I've wondered about people's negative opinion about Philadelphia. In my experience (having spent years in both NYC and Philladelphia) it is much, much harder to get bad food in Philly. Really. The basic standard is a bit higher. In NYC bad food is everywhere. One reason is, I think, that New York has enough people to support bad restaurants with single visits. That is, if someone has a bad experience and never goes back, there is a nearly endless supply of suckers to take his or her place.

                    - VF

                2. re: Bilmo

                  Ok,Ok, I will admit that NYC has a lot going for it foodwise. Trumpeting Philly-perhaps. Actually, I'm just not sure why, because the city happens to be close to NY, it has to be constantly negatively compared to it. Philadelphians are notorious for feeding those sentiments-and NOT pointing out what's good about the city. Instead of comparing cheese shops to NY, let's talk about what's available here.

                  1. re: Bilmo

                    DiBrunos hass, in my view, the best selection of hard-to-find cheeses in the city. I was there last week and had a few exotic cheeses - one which was 15 years aged - apparantly it was "forgotten" and then rediscovered and sold at 50% off (or 6.99/lb). Regretfully, I can't recall the name (I keep trying to say Mitterand, but I think it is just the country affiliation, although it is something like that....). Anyway, that, combined with a half pound of Jamon Serrano and, WOW! I was in heaven!!!! Can't get that at Freshfeilds....
                    So, that is the spot, if you care about my opinion. And, contrary to one of the other postings, there is a little pushing in DiBrunos (Italian Market), but in a polite way - not like the brawl one find's himself in at Zabars!

                  2. re: Valerie

                    Those are some good recomendations.
                    I don't care for Dibruno for anything but Italian cheese.
                    I forgot about the store in Chestnut Hill.
                    I was not impressed when I was there last...but they do seem to have some grasp of REAL cheese.
                    I will check things out again....but I am not hopeful.
                    Thanks again

                  3. Downtown Cheese in the Reading Terminal Market is the best I've been able to find in the city, and it's pretty darn good. I believe they are the same ownership as the cheese shop at Suburban Square in Ardmore on the Main Line. Both are definitely superior to Fresh Fields, etc. Pricey, but no more so than along Broadway in the 80s an 90s.

                    DiBruno's is also A-1 for Italian. But if it's Corsican or Spanish or French you're after, go to Downtown Cheese at the Reading Terminal Market.

                    It's in the same spot in the market as another cheese store used to be -- but don't confuse the two. The former operators of the stand, under a different name, just didn't have the good stuff.

                    Another market shop, Salumeria, was the preferred purveyor at the Reading Terminal Market before Downtown Cheese started. They're OK, but not at the level of Downtown Cheese. Go to Salumeria for the hoagies, instead -- they're excellent.