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Berkeley - The Cheese Board – favorites & tips

rworange May 21, 2007 12:28 PM

What specific items do you love at The Cheese Board?

To get started, here are a few old posts

Morton the Mousse recommends the Istara, Prima Donna Gouda, Bellweather Farms Sheeps Ricotta and the fresh cream cheese. His tip: the signs on the wall “often advertise cheeses that are rare, just came in or are a particularly good batch.”

nja recommends Juniper Grove goat cheeses, in particular the Buche

Robert Lauriston says to try Hoch Ybrig (Gruyere's rich uncle) and anything from Neal's Yard.

http://www.chowhound.com/topics/43880#215246

The Chowhound Digest says Cheese Board sometimes gets burrata in a Thursday shipment.
http://www.chow.com/digest/598

GENERAL TIPS
- Senior discounts based on age … free cheese to anyone over 100 … make friends at your local nursing home with the 100 year olds and bring them shopping with you.
- There’s a bulk discount for orders for organizations
- Ask at the register if anyone turned in a card to jump to the front of the wait … sure, scummy … but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.
- the cookbook seems to indicate they receive most cheese shipments on Wednesday mornings.

HOLIDAYS
- Love that fruitcake... soaked with three liquors chock full of nuts and fruit like apricots
- Saw Arizmendi does a day of the dead bread. Anyone seen this at Cheese Board? The cookbook mentions it and other holiday baked goods Anyone seen or tried these?
- Bastille Day Baguettes which have garlic & olive oil
- Valnentine’s Day – Dark chocolate loaves
- Day before Easter – hot cross buns ... wish I read the cookbook
- St. Patrick’s day – Irish soda scones
- Thanksgiving – stuffing bread
- Christmas – Florentines (great), holiday loaves, cheese balls, stollen, saffron bread, date spread, gingerbread

PIZZA
- The daily pizza menu is on the website
- On the day before Thanksgiving they have the wild mushroom pizza. Thanks for the yearly reminder, Robert. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/41420#200289
- If you show up during a slow time and the pizza has been sitting out, your slice comes from a fresh pie and the old pie is turned into extras (RIP Kate Dowling, the mind behind the bonus slice).http://www.chowhound.com/topics/46766#232561
- Btw, the cookbook says the pizza dough is NOT sourdough

Are they still doing the cheesebar? I don’t see anything on the website http://www.chowhound.com/topics/39565

Some of my favorites …

Recently there were three fabulous Portuguese thistle rennet cheeses.

The star was the Serra da Estrella. When the wheel was cut, both the cheese monger and I went “oooh” at the same time. The oozy interior promised greatness and it was a cheese of greatness.

The other two were Serpa and La Serena but neither as great as the Serra da Estrella More about these cheeses. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/396335#2534543

I enjoyed organic Jean Roussey Munster-Gerome from Alsace.
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/394789#2522168

On Friday they do a usually one-time experimental roll. One amazing roll was a sweet blue cheese & nut mixture topping a yeasty roll.

I miss the brie with the pesto filling … sure it wasn’t cheese sophistication, but it was delicious.

My own often-ordered favorites … no real revelation … Cheese rolls, currant scones, aged gouda (good selection of Dutch cheeses), the great selection of Roquefort’s... and the baguettes still remain my favorite in the Bay Area ... as well as the favorite of my SO.

I’m kind of hoping that people will post on their favorites rather than stuff like “I prefer the baguette at xxx”. Just our own loves. Let’s shuss out the best stuff … to each of our own tastes.

I have never bought the granola, olive oils, vinegars or olives … suggestions?

http://cheeseboardcollective.coop

1504 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94709
(510) 549-3183

Sunday: Closed
Monday, 7 a.m.-1 p.m ... cheese counter closed
Tuesday-Friday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m ... cheese counter opens at 10 a.m.
Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m ... cheese counter opens at 10 a.m.

An article about The Cheese Board from The San Francisco Chronicle ... which introduced me to the Cheese Board many decades ago ... long before there was an internet and Chowhound was a twinkle in the founders eyes ... long before anyone imagined there would be the word 'foodies' . This isn't the article that clued me in since the Chronicle's on-line archives only go back to 1995 ... and yes, at that time brie with pesto was cool. Still is to me.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

  1. p
    Problem Child May 21, 2007 12:40 PM

    My favorites are:

    Windsor Blue
    Memoir Truffled Gouda

    1. c
      chemchef May 21, 2007 12:40 PM

      Wow, great post. I love everything I've ever had at Cheeseboard, but the hazelnut shortbread and chocolate things are fabulous!

      1. w
        wally May 21, 2007 12:53 PM

        Rolf Beeler(spelling?) gruyere. Red Cow parmesan. Berger Roquefort. I did ask for my 10% discount for my age group once and was given it, but I don't think I will do it again unless I really need it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: wally
          maria lorraine May 23, 2007 08:32 PM

          Yes. Rolf Beeler also makes the Hoch Ybrig that Robert Lauriston recommends. Also try his Sbrinz and another one simply called Gruyere. He makes a couple of soft cheeses but generally focuses on the Gruyere family from his base in Switzerland. He is [blush, toe in dirt] my favorite artisan cheesemaker in the world and visits the Bay Area about once a year.

        2. Robert Lauriston May 21, 2007 01:08 PM

          The Cheese Board sells the best olives I've found around here. Green, varies from one visit to another whether the Lucques or raw Picholines are the best. The black oil-cured are sometimes too salty, bitter, or rancid. So I always taste before buying.

          Brebiou (soft, ripe sheep's-milk cheese) is one of my regular cheese choices.

          Their cave-aged Gruyere's great for eating straight, though it doesn't make the best fondue.

          They take excellent care of their triple-cremes: Brillat-Savarin, Explorateur, Gratte-Paille.

          I suspect my old favorite Camembert and Reblochon have not survived the FDA's war on raw-milk cheese.

          Cheese Board Pizza is expanding into the storefront next door, so there will be a lot more seating one of these months.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            rworange May 21, 2007 01:15 PM

            Thanks. I didn't realize they gave samples of the olives as well.

            Yes, other cheese shops carry some of the cheeses like Brillat-Savariin (which I love too). However, the care that goes into the cheese is amazing. I even read posts that said the Red Hawk sold at Cowgirl Creamery wasn't as perfectly aged as at Cheese Board.

          2. Morton the Mousse May 21, 2007 01:13 PM

            I've been shopping at the Cheese Board 2-3 times a week for the last few years. I've come to feel that the best possible strategy is to walk in without knowing precisely what you want, ask lots of questions, and sample, sample, sample. You can sample as much as you want. No matter how big the line is, don't feel rushed.

            Even when you know a particular cheese is great, they might have something rare and incredible that you don't know about. Before you buy anything, ask the counter person if there is a similar, worthwhile cheese that you haven't yet sampled. For example, I've tasted all of their cheddars many times, and I know I like the Black Diamond the best. But a few months ago when I asked for cheddar, the counter person recommended a limited batch, 10 year aged Wisconsin, that they had aged in house for five years. It is the best cheddar I've ever tasted in my life, and I would have missed it if I had just asked for the Black Diamond.

            On occasion, an otherwise great cheese has been sitting around a bit too long. Even though they usually have the same set of fetas, I find I buy I different one each time I'm in there, because the freshest feta tastes best. The Red Cow Parm is usually tops, but on occasion I've opted for the less expensive Parm Reg. because it tasted fresher.

            The only really important thing to know about is when deliveries of cheese that needs to be incredibly fresh come in. For example, fresh ricotta from Bellweather farms arrives Friday afternoon (and is usually sold out by Saturday afternoon). If you are looking for a cheese that needs to be very fresh, call them to ask about the delivery schedule.

            The olives are good. You should ask for a sample.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Morton the Mousse
              z
              zin1953 May 21, 2007 01:16 PM

              Yes to the aforementioned Red Cow and to the olives.

              They also get in some Queijo de Serra from time to time . . .

              1. re: Morton the Mousse
                Robert Lauriston May 21, 2007 01:19 PM

                Excellent advice on tasting. Usually when I shop there I'm getting an assortment of five or six cheeses for a cheese course. Often two or three of them I've never had before.

                I always get Acme pain d'epis for those meals.

              2. psb May 21, 2007 01:57 PM

                various replies:

                >They take excellent care of their triple-cremes: Brillat-Savarin, Explorateur, Gratte-Paille.
                >
                are they newly stocking the GP? i've asked many, many times about GP and they
                have never had it. some of the staff didnt even know what i was talking about.

                other than the Brillat and Exp, they often have Pierre Robert and sometimes a bogus,
                cheep triple.

                >On occasion, an otherwise great cheese has been sitting around a bit too long.
                >
                yes, echoing "always taste the cheese, even if you know it well". sometimes if
                the cheese is in decline but still ok, the price can be "negotiable". like non-prime
                but still good, now slightly salty brillat can still be put to good use.

                >- Ask at the register if anyone turned in a card to jump to the front of the wait …
                >sure, scummy … but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.
                >
                what exactly are you advocating here?

                2 Replies
                1. re: psb
                  Robert Lauriston May 21, 2007 01:59 PM

                  I haven't bought G-P there recently.

                  1. re: psb
                    rworange May 21, 2007 02:42 PM

                    >- Ask at the register if anyone turned in a card to jump to the front of the wait …
                    >sure, scummy … but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.

                    Long ago in my cubicle days before I had the luxury of working at home ... I noticed on a rushed lunch break that some people don't want to wait and drop off their number at the cash register. So I told the cashier about my schedule and she gave me the lower number card. Occassionally when I'm pushed for time, I'll ask discretely at the register if there is a lower number available.

                    Like other 'take a number' systems ... stay alert. Some people just re-hang their number or leave it on the top of the cheese counter ... then you casually swoop in and pick up the lower number without calling attention to yourself and risking the scorn of fellow cheese buyers.

                    >>are they newly stocking the GP? i've asked many, many times about GP and they
                    have never had it. some of the staff didnt even know what i was talking about.<<

                    Never hurts to ask as cheese is always in and out. Occassionaly there are new cheese mongers, so I try to snag the more experinced staff. If I see someone I really don't like, I'll trade numbers and say I just need a few more minutes to look.

                  2. l
                    Louise May 21, 2007 03:10 PM

                    Oh, I had that fig/blue cheese/walnut bread. It was delicious--sweet and salty.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Louise
                      d
                      dreamsicle May 21, 2007 05:40 PM

                      Usually I go to the Cheeseboard more for their breads than their cheeses, my favorite being the cornmeal cherry scones (see attached photo) ... oh so yummy!

                       
                    2. eLizard May 21, 2007 06:22 PM

                      I cannot recommend the cookbook enough. My starter is over a year old and from their method. The pizzas I make turn out grrrrreat -- both sourdough and yeasted. The zampanos are out of this world as are the baguettes and bialys. The lemon poppy muffins and the banana walnut muffins are terrific, too. oddly enough, I didn't like the "chocolate things".....

                      A woman i work with in boston is a berkley ex-pat and bought the book for me. i emailed the collective about a couple questions I had during my starter cultivation, and they were wonderful about answering. I dream about going there.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: eLizard
                        l
                        Louise May 22, 2007 08:28 AM

                        Berkeley and the SF Bay Area are full of delicious things to eat. At least once a week someone posts on the Bay Area board that they'll be here a short time and where should they go? The Cheeseboard is high on the list. Mmm, pizza.

                        Just don't go Sunday because, strangely, they are closed.

                        1. re: eLizard
                          rworange May 22, 2007 08:48 AM

                          I agree the cookbook is great ... even though I don't cook. There's nice info about cheese in there too and a the history of the place. Also, if I move from the area, it is nice to have those recipes.

                        2. Gary Soup May 22, 2007 09:37 AM

                          Looks like the selection has expanded a bit since we sourced cheese there for our cell of the Berkeley Food Conspiracy in the 60's. I think the stuff we placed the most orders for was Jarlsberg. Do they still carry it?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Gary Soup
                            Robert Lauriston May 22, 2007 10:00 AM

                            I'm sure they do, they stock lots of standard everyday stuff.

                            1. re: wolverine61
                              Gary Soup May 22, 2007 08:19 PM

                              try gary [at] xiaolongbao [dot] com

                            2. Chuckles the Clone May 23, 2007 11:32 PM

                              My Cheeseboard tip:

                              Some of the people that work there are very, very, very good at what they
                              do. And they seem to really enjoy chatting about cheese and handing out samples
                              and getting you what you want even if you don't know what that is. If you wander
                              in when they're not busy, you'll meet one of these people.

                              But if you go there when it's really busy (and the chances are good you will because
                              after all, that's when most people are there), say on a Saturday, you'll notice that
                              they seem to have added a lot of extra staff for the day. Many of whom have never
                              actually seen cheese before. Or so it would seem.

                              After you take a number and wait for 20 minutes, it can be an absolute drag to
                              get one of the clueless ones. So here's what to do. When you go in, pick a number.
                              Then wait until another couple of numbers get taken. Then take another one.
                              And maybe do this a third time. Spend your 20 minutes watching the cheese
                              people. It will become obvious who the good ones are. And the bad ones. If your
                              turn comes and you don't get one of the good people, stay quiet and let someone else
                              suffer; you've got at least one more chance.

                              1. m
                                mlucier May 24, 2007 10:40 AM

                                I LOVE the chocolate things and the apricot scones.

                                1. Robert Lauriston Sep 28, 2007 12:29 PM

                                  It might be in their cookbook, "The Cheese Board: Collective Works: Bread, Pastry, Cheese, Pizza."

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                    b
                                    bogie Sep 28, 2007 12:39 PM

                                    I looked for it in the cookbook while I was there. Sadly, I could not find it. Good idea, though. I will probably order the cookbook anyway.

                                  2. c
                                    chocolatetartguy Sep 28, 2007 01:17 PM

                                    Sticky buns on Fridays. Nutty, sweet and unctuous. Much better than the Pecan Rolls.

                                    Greek Shephard's Bread on Wed. Usually lots of green olives and kasseri cheese that oozes out the sides into little cheese chips. Very rustic.

                                    Piave, my favorite hard, dry, nutty cheese. Very piquant flavor.

                                    Neal's Yard's Mrs. Appleby's Cheshire - curdy, raw milk tasting, crumbly.

                                    Old Quebec - nice sharp white cheddar

                                    Find cheesemongers you work with and taste as much as possible. I usually end up tasting something of their recommendation that I had not intention to try. Like anything else, some mongers know more than others.

                                    Most of the staff are very agreeable, but I did recently have cross words with one guy when I bought 3 hand picked sticky buns and told him that I had earlier phoned in to have 3 set aside and that they could be returned to the pool (something I had done many times before). He insisted that I had created an intolerable amount of extra work for someone (not him) to put them in the bag and write my name on it. Needless to say, I'll avoid that guy in the future.

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