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Where to get your cheese for a wine and cheese party

If you were having a wine and cheese party, where would you go in Toronto to get the cheese for the party? I know I can go to SLM or Kensington Market and there's the various boutiques, but I want to know where I'm going to get the best value for my money and where I can ask for their advice about what to serve based on the wines I get.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. I would suggest either Alex Farms on Bayview or Whole Foods. There is also some great websites out there that speak about matching wine and cheese. My husband knows of one which I will post later today.

    2 Replies
    1. re: millygirl

      Thanks, Millygirl. I have a link to Billy Munnelly's website, but I'm not planning on doing too much homework in this case, just hopefully get some good suggestions from a cheesemonger (do we still use that term? ;-)
      I think I'll check out Alex Farms this weekend.

      Edited: I lied, I'm doing homework after all, lol

      1. re: millygirl

        I would also agree with the Alex Farms - for both SLM & Beaches. I was at the Beaches location on the weekend to pick up a cheese to "snack on" (i was in the mood for blue) and walked out with $60 worth of "snacking" cheeses. (A fab raw sheep's milk, a triple cream brie, and an organic gruyere!) lol. Sinfully good & totally on the money, BTW.

        They were very knowledgeable - asked me what I was in the mood for - salty, crumbly, smooth, etc. then offered me a sample. Really pleased with our selection.

      2. I don't have a cheese shop that can recommend wines. I will, for a change, endorse the LCBO website for their food pairings. Enter "Red Still Table Wine" under Product Subcategory and "cheese" under Food Match. Voila!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Googs

          Pescatarian, check out tastings.com. and click on the food matching guide. I've found it very helpful, particularly for cheeses. Now do I get an invite :)

        2. Thank you all. I found another interesting matching chart, if anyone is interested: http://www.frugal-wine.com/cheese.html

          1 Reply
          1. re: pescatarian

            I'm a fan of Salumeria myself- on Yonge- east side, north of Davisville.

          2. I always go to the Alex Farms at the south east end of St Lawrence market. Knowledgable staff will suggest and let you try anything...

            2 Replies
            1. re: aparker

              I agree that Alex Farms is your best bet. The staff at the Danforth and Bayview locations are equally helpful. Quebec cheeses are fabulous, especially triple creme (Riopelle) and blues. Try the latter with figs - superb! Alex Farms also has an in house cheddar which is quite good.

              1. re: Montrachet

                I just had my own $50 alex farm trip, and while everything I got was lovely it smarted to pay that for snackin' cheese.

                I really really like Global cheese in kensington - I usually go there and the staff are always lovely and helpful. And kind of importantly they always ask how much do you want to spend and help me get the most for my money or tell me what's really worth splurging on. I've done a few theme nights - wine and cheese pairing in general and then some country specific nights and they are always great with recommendations and write down all the names and origins for me on the packages. I don't even mind that the older guys all refer to me as sweetheart - coming from them it's charming.

            2. I just had a good trip to Alex Farms on the Danforth. I got enough cheese for 20 people, including a French triple creme (they didn't have any triple creme quebec today), an aged Gouda that has a smokey taste, an unpasteurized old Cheddar, a Blue, Parmigiano Reggiano and a French one, Tomme de Abondance. Cost me $160, but I don't have a wine and cheese party for that many people every day! I think I got a good selection. The samples tasted good. He vacuum packed everything except the Blue, because it's for next week.

              4 Replies
              1. re: pescatarian

                I've had the Tomme de Abondance....very nice. You're guests are in for a real treat!

                1. re: millygirl

                  I hope they enjoy it! That's the one I actually selected on my own from my list that I had prepared before I went to the store. The others he selected. They were all delicious.

                  1. re: pescatarian

                    Call Andy Shay at Shay Cheese...he's the best and he delivers...also gives great suggestions for wine pairing and even crackers....google him at shay cheese....Miranda

                    1. re: miranda

                      I use to subscribe to his cheese club on a monthly basis but the problem was too much cheese arriving at one time. I decided I could do the same thing on my own. I spend less, buy what interests me, purchase when I want or need it. I found quite often he focussed on washed rind cheeses, which I discovered I don't care for. Great for gift giving though.

              2. Don't forget the basics at Costco; a trip there will leave money in your pocket for Alex!
                Reggianio, Stilton, 5 yr. Balderson are all approximately $12/lb.

                1. The Thin Blue Line on Roncesvalles is fantastic! I hosted a charity wine tasting in the summer & all the cheese came from them; the owner is helpful, friendly and knowledgable. And the cheese is the best I've had in the city (I used to be an Alex Farms girl, but I've changed allegiances!). Definitely not cheap, but totally worth it.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: watt

                    Hey pescatarian, if you can get your hands on some Delice de Borgogne you should add it to your plate. We had some last night and it was the BEST cheese I've ever had. It's a french pasteurized cow's milk. So rich tasting. Really fantastic.

                    1. re: millygirl

                      mmm, thanks for the tip! where did you get yours?

                      1. re: pescatarian

                        Summerhill Market. They had some out for sampling and we immediately ran to get some. So did the other couple of people that were trying at the same time. Honestly, really worth the trip. We paired it with those Rainforest Crackers - have you had them yet? They go wonderfully with most cheeses, but soft ones in particularly. I love the green box which is fig, rosemary and olive oil. Fantastic!!!!

                        1. re: millygirl

                          Mmm, yes, those raincoast crisps from Lesley Stowe are delicious -- pricey so not an everyday treat for me but great to serve with cheese for guests. The cranberry hazelnut crisp is great with a creamy cheese like Riopelle.

                          1. re: JamieK

                            Yes highly addictive. And I love that they are so thin, tres elegant.
                            They are easier to find lately, seen them at SunValley and Alex Farms. Although Alex seems to sell out quite quickly...many times they've only had the cajun ones in stock which I've never had - don't really appeal to me, particularly with cheese. Agree that they aren't cheap, but well worth it. Especially if you are going to spend $150 on cheese - not the time to cheap out on the crackers :)

                            1. re: millygirl

                              so true Millygirl. I know those crackers and I do love them. I will pick some up during the week!

                              1. re: pescatarian

                                I know that your gathering isn't until next week, but I would love to hear what wines you chose to match with the cheese. I have a lot of cheese left over from Christmas in the fridge and I keep experimenting...

                                Review please:).

                                1. re: morrigan

                                  ok, this is what I have (if anything's terrible, I don't think I want to know because I can't afford to replace a lot!):

                                  Sparkling: Seura Viudas Brut Reserva
                                  Gazela Vinho Verdo - Portugal
                                  Lindeman's Bin 85 Pinot Grigio 2007
                                  Little Penguin South East Australia Chardonnay
                                  Black Tower Riesling 2006

                                  La Vielle Ferme Cotes du Ventoux
                                  Baron Philippe de Rothschild Pino Noir
                                  Obikwa Shiraz (South Africa)
                                  Saint Emilion 2000 Bordeaux
                                  Yvon Mau Merlot 2006
                                  Las Clos de Paulilles Colloure

                                  I also have a couple novelty wines I picked up at Pine Farms Orchard in the fall - a Framboise and an Apple Cranberry (might mix with soda water).


                                  Lincet de Bourgne
                                  Parmigiano Reggiano
                                  Blue D'Auvergne
                                  Special Reserve 5 year Gouda
                                  Tomme D'Abondance
                                  Christmas Barrel Cheddar

                                  1. re: pescatarian

                                    Whereas it can be a little sweet, I quite like Framboise (or Chambord, for that matter) in sparkling wine. I like your choice of sparkling wine and I laughed when I saw the La Vielle Ferme Cote du Ventoux - that and Louis Jadot Beaujolais are my go to wines for drinking with cheese...

                                    I'd love to know if anything stands out...or there is a particular pairing that works really well.

                                    Have fun!

                                    1. re: pescatarian

                                      I LOVE the gazela from portugal - it's wonderful, very drinkable and affordable (however not as affordable as when we were in Portugal where it was 2 or 3 euros a bottle)

                    2. Can't beat Global for prices.
                      My advice is to buy the cheese first, then visit Boris at the Queen's Quay LCBO with your cheese list. He'll help you pair the cheeses quite nicely.