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Where's the cheese in Woodside/Jackson Heights

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Is it my imagination or is it virtually impossible to find brie and camembert - come to think of it - just about any decent cheese in the Woodside - Jackson Heights area running along Roosevelt Avenue from about 59th to about 75th? I was looking for some feta the other day and all I found was pre-packaged pre-crumbled stuff in a couple of supermarkets. I don't mind queso de frier or queso blanco - but come on guys where's the cheese?

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  1. believe it or not, I know someone in JH who is considering opening a cheese shop!

    2 Replies
    1. re: orzabelle

      Please! Let it be true!

      1. re: orzabelle

        Tell us more!

      2. Food Dynasty carries a few varieties of non-pre-packaged feta at the deli counter. This may not be a good neighborhood for European cheeses, and given the ethnic mix around here I don't know why you would expect otherwise, but I do love that I can go to my corner store here and get queso fresco or queso blanco anytime. For European cheeses I generally go to Murray's or the East Village cheese place in Manhattan anyway.

        However, in other nearby neighborhoods there are some places that may carry a wider selection of cheeses (certainly Italian ones), like Iavaroni Bros. in Maspeth or some of the Italian delis in Astoria.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Woodside Al

          Feta is a daily staple in our house, and we like the French feta at Food Dynasty. The tall Tunisian guy behind the deli counter, Reza, is always so cheerful and asks after us. He can somehow eyeball an exact half pound of feta.

          In a pinch, we also get feta at Jun's Big Apple on Roosevelt between 60th and 59th. They usually have packaged Fage feta - it's OK quality and the packet will keep unopened in the fridge for two months, so useful to have around just in case. Jun's also has a small selection of other cheeses, mostly packaged organic cheese/soy cheese. No cave-aged gruyere or anything like that. Never bought anything but feta there, but the dairy case turnover seems decent and the shop makes an effort to stock what people want to buy.

          Also, where there are Filipinos, there is Edam. Around Christmas, they have red-wax covered balls of Edam in the window of the Fil-Am market by the BQE entrance that is always under construction.

          1. re: plum

            I love those guys in Food Dynasty - they gotta be the friendliest store owners in New York - I'll try their cheese today - and I love the baguettes that appear all nice and warm at various times of the day in that store.

        2. Despana Foods on Northern Blvd. and 87 St. has fine varieties of manchego and other Spanish cheeses. I use the manchego in place of Greek kaseri in some recipes, and it works well.

          1. Sapori d'Ischia wouldn't be too far out of your way for European Cheese..maybe not feta but certainly Italian stuff.

            2 Replies
            1. re: HLing

              there is an okay selection of cheeses at gourmet fantasy foods, the russian place, on 78th (i think), just a few doors north of 37th ave. and on the corner of 80th and 37th ave there is that italian farms place, which has a selection, although i'm not so sure about the prices. and don francisco's carniceria on 37th and 85th has some cheeses. and in astoria, there are numerous places (sorriso's, euro foods on 31st St., titan foods, every little greek deli, frank and jays (or whatever that other italian sandwich place is called). the list in astoria would be quite long. and, as mentioned above, Despana on Northern in JH has a very good selection. if you want more specifics on the places in astoria, just ask again.

              1. re: joekarten

                I found Italian Farms to be too expensive for the mediocre quality of their cheeses. They also have a 1/2 pound minimum.

            2. I'm not very sure, but I think I've seen brie at the Key Food on Queens Blvd. in Woodside. I sometimes buy a big chunk of bulgarian feta at the Chinese supermarket across the street from Donovan's. You know the kind that comes in a sealed container with a big chunk of feta in brine. There is also a Russian supermarket off 37th ave in JH - they have pretty good selection of cheeses, and I believe Trade Fair there has a selection beyond Lake-O-Lakes. If I need fresh mozzarel Ottomanelli is my place to go. They also carry a basic tube of goat cheese (wrapped in plastic, but it does a trick for a quick fix). You know, I don't really feel deprived in the cheese dept. in woodside. We're pretty much covered on basics - and I don't mind going out of my way for something more exotic (I'd be broke if there was a specialty cheese store in Woodside). GOOD BREAD - that's another story.

              7 Replies
              1. re: welle

                That Bulgarian stuff is the real deal - If its the same stuff I used to get at Big Banana in Lawrence in a big square green can. Funnilly enuf I go into that store very often - for their mind-blowing selection of crackers - but I never saw any cheeses there. Is the feta in cans refrigerated or stacked on the shelf?

                1. re: butterchicken2nan

                  Yes, the big green square can. It's refrigerated in the cheese area. You may want to ask them if they're out. That store has some random eastern european stuff like polish mushrooms etc.

                  1. re: welle

                    Went there today - its gone high tech - now its in a big square plastic tub - but its still the same Bulgarian feta from years ago - and at $5.99 for 2lbs its gotta be one of the best bargains on Roosevelt Ave. Took it to the office and they all went nuts for it. Looks like a winner.

                    1. re: butterchicken2nan

                      man, i can't keep that stuff at home - can't stop eating. Your office strategy was very smart!

                2. re: welle

                  Thanks - I shop at Long Cheng all the time, and I never even knew they had feta! They've really expanded in the past year and now I never have to go into whatever the dismal Key Foods on Roosevelt is called now - Champion?

                  I guess I was too distracted by the pea shoots... (On a side note, look for the amazing Filipino peanuts with fried garlic slivers sold in little plastic shell containers near the front of the store where the bread is displayed - they're called "Nix Nuts" and made locally. Fresh, roasty and just salty/garlicky enough.)

                  1. re: plum

                    Thanks for the tip - I'll try them out next time I'm there. Have you been lately to the Champion? They have a crazy selection of European (mostly German and Swiss) chocolates right at the entrance - Milka, Kinder, Ritter Sport and many other. All addressed to be sold in Europe (most of the wrappers in German). They also had KitKat - I almost bought it but put it back when saw HFCS on the ingredient list, still curious though.

                    1. re: welle

                      Gadzooks! Where did those Milka bars come from? Champion looks marginally better than it did eighteen months ago, when I started shopping exclusively elsewhere - conveniently around the same time that Long Cheng started offering some Western groceries in addition to greens and fish. But I will go back to Champion for Milka bars. Now and then.

                3. Try "Gourmet Fantasy Foods" on 76th just north of 37th Ave (about 1-1/2 blocks from 75th & Roosevelt). They have a nice feta selection, along w/ a variety cheeses from Eastern Europe and Russia. They used to have the best pickles in NYC too, and an eccentric collection of behind-the-iron-curtain beers, but in the past couple of years they've gone down hill. Still have a lot of cheese, though.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: swerling

                    Gourmet Fantasy has very good feta, but I'd definitely recommend D'Espana (mentioned above) as the best overall cheese purveyor in the area). Saturday mornings at the latter, they dish up a huge spread of samples -- cheese, chorizos, peppers -- and the owner pours wine to go along with (an ideal way to wake up, if you ask me!)

                    1. re: david sprague

                      I think I have D'Espana bad karma. I've been in there twice on Saturdays and the owner has offered others wine while I'm there but never me (sniff sniff) - no but seriously - some great cheese, although I also bought a cheese there that was wayyyy over the hill - so much ammonia as to be inedible. I had brought it to someone's home, so didn't think to save it and bring it back to see how they'd deal with it. It also really bugs me that they have the cheeses all pre-cut and packaged so I can't buy a smaller wedge. Got their chorizo, though, and that's fabulous. Again, though, nice that I could freeze the chorizo since it comes pre-packaged in a large quantity.

                  2. Fairly large selection of supermarket grade specialty cheeses at Stop N Shop on Grand Avenue and 74th Street.

                    Iavarone's has an OK cheese selection.

                    I'd just as well hop on the 7 and go to the Murray's outpost in Grand Central Terminal.