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May 21, 2007 12:28 PM

Berkeley - The Cheese Board – favorites & tips

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.

The Chowhound Digest says Cheese Board sometimes gets burrata in a Thursday shipment.

- 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.

- 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

- 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.
- 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).
- Btw, the cookbook says the pizza dough is NOT sourdough

Are they still doing the cheesebar? I don’t see anything on the website

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.

I enjoyed organic Jean Roussey Munster-Gerome from Alsace.

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?

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.

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  1. My favorites are:

    Windsor Blue
    Memoir Truffled Gouda

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

      1. 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

          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. 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

            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. 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

              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

                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.