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Good cheese shop in East Bay?

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  • Tuberose Sep 10, 2004 06:51 PM
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A cheese-loving friend of mine is having a birthday soon and I wanted to get her a gift certificate to a cheese shop near her home in Fruitvale. Anyone have any suggestions?

She's in the city a lot so I have backup ideas like 24th Street Cheese Co, Say Cheese, and Cowgirl, but something more convenient would be ideal.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. In Fruitvale, I dunno. But otherwise it's a no-brainer: Cheeseboard in Berkeley. Best cheese shop in the bay area. There's a bajillion posts on this board about it, including one of the Feldmanfest threads from this week.

    3 Replies
    1. re: nja

      Saying a choice is a "no-brainer" smacks of elitism and perhaps condescension (not to mention Dick Cheney-speak). What works for you may not be the best for someone else.

      I have nothing at all against the Cheese Board. I was one of their bigger customers early on (circa 1970), when my wife and I were joint cheese cordinators for the North Berkeley-Albany Cell of the Berkeley Food Conspiracy, and the Cheese Board gave our group very generous discounts on bulk orders.

      I was in Montreal recently, where all the buzz, all the time, is about Fromagerie Hamel, and you could call it a "no-brainer." I discovered, however, that a nearby shop had a much wider selection of aged Quebec Cheddars (2-5 years old) and aged Chevres, which were what I was looking for.

      1. re: Gary Soup
        r
        Robert Lauriston

        "No-brainer" may be a rude way to put it, but the Cheese Board is in a class by istelf among Bay Area cheese shops. They have the biggest selection, they take the best care of the cheese, and their prices are relatively low.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          You're reading too much into this, Gary and Robert.

    2. The cheese shop at Market Hall in Rockridge (Oakland). Easy parking too!

      1. r
        Robert Lauriston

        The Cheese Board in Berkeley is the best cheese shop in the Bay Area, and it also has the best prices.

        The closest serious cheese shop to Fruitvale is Farmhouse Cheeses and Wines, right across the bridge on Park Ave. in Alameda. Smaller selection than Cheese Board but they have some first-rate stuff. (The owners are friends of mine but their selection speaks for itself.)

        2 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          That's Farmstead (not Farmhouse) Cheeses and Wines, on Park Street (not Park Ave., which is another street in Alameda) and I agree, it's a good cheese shop and definitely convenient to Fruitvale.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler
            r
            Robert Lauriston

            Boy, I messed that one up good.

            It's in the Alameda Marketplace, sort of a Rockridge Market Hall knockoff.

            Link: http://www.alamedamarketplace.com/

        2. k
          k. gerstenberger

          Coffee and Tea Market on Hopkins in Berkeley has recently changed ownership - same guy runs Country Cheese on San Pablo. He's upgraded the selections and has a great willingness to discuss products/share knowledge.

          2 Replies
          1. re: k. gerstenberger

            That's very interesting about the Hopkins Street store - I do love Country Cheese on San Pablo at Addison in West Berkeley!

            1. re: sydthekyd
              r
              Robert Lauriston

              Country Cheese is not a great cheese store. It's more of a deli.

          2. I agree the cheese Board has the best prices & a huge selection. But... I think the Pasta Shop, both Market Hall & 4th St., does a better job of marketing unusual cheeses I haven't heard of. I wish the Cheese Board would put out more signs that tell me about the cheeses before it's time to order. They never hurry me but I often get more usual types than at Pasta Shop , I guess because I don't ask the right questions!

            2 Replies
            1. re: granjan

              Agreed. I also find the almost complete lack of signage a real problem at The Cheeseboard. Yes, I know you're meant to consult with the people and have them guide the way, but what am I supposd to do while I wait my turn, and how will I know where to get started without some preliminary info. I really don't want to do research before I go to the store. I'm used to the Fairway cheese counter in NYC (of Steve Jenkins fame) and the Murray's counter, both of which provide signs worth reading even if you have no interest in the cheese itself. When I walked in there last week with my wife, we walked out after two minutes, annoyued by the lack of guidance. So, what gives with the lack of signs at the Cheeseboard? Are they (the signs) somehow anti-hippie? Does it have something to do with the Five Man Electrical Band?

              1. re: jasmurph
                r
                Robert Lauriston

                Cheese Board does promote specials on the chalkboard and occasionally on the top of the counter.

                Since you can taste whatever you want and the salespeople are knowledgeable, I don't see how signs matter. They certainly don't have any effect on the quality of the cheese.