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Where do you buy cheese in central New Jersey?

We'll be moving to central New Jersey (Princeton area) and want to know where we can find good cheese. We are moving from LA, where we are blessed with a couple wonderfu cheese stores that know how to age, store, and sell a very wide variety of cheese. I probably won't have that to look forward to (just head up to NYC to Murrays for that, I suppose), but I'm guessing there must be some good cheese for sale in the princeton/trenton area. And bonus points for local raw milk cheeses...

thanks

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  1. There's a Wegmans in Princeton that you should check out. My local Wegmans has a decent cheese shop. I can get Humboldt Fog and Purple Haze there for example.

    1. the wegmans will have a decent selection as will the whole foods(probably better). i would check out local farmer's markets. i do know of a few further east, wine concierge(decent european selection) in allenhurst?deal? the "cheese shop" in ocean, nice selection.
      most famous probably bobolink dairy
      cowsoutside.com
      none of these are in princeton, but the 2 shops are not that far, certainly closer than nyc. however, murray's is awesome!, as is artisanal and many more in the city. artisanal will fed ex a nice selction to you as well. as a fellow cali transplant(san diego), be ready for a different food scene.

      1. Bon Appetite is a gourmet shop in Princeton - I'm not a cheese afficionado, but they seem to take their small cheese section very seriously. Bobolink Dairy in (I think) Vernon, which is a ways away, makes its own cheeses, which many people seem to like.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Heatherb

          I think the OP will be quite pleased with the cheeses at Bon Appetit in the Princeton Shopping Center. While the selection is not huge, the quality is excellent and the personnel really know their cheeses.

          http://www.bonappetitfinefoods.com

          In the same shopping center is McAffrey's, a supermarket that has a very good cheese department.

          http://www.mccaffreys.com

          I agree that Wegman's usually has a good (and large) selection of cheeses but I find too many old cheeses there - and I don't mean aged!

          There are two excellent cheese shops in Doylestown, PA. You should check them out once you're settled in your new abode.

          1. re: ambrose

            Another high recommendation, along with ambrose, for Bon Appetit!

            The owner is onsite daily and is a 4th generation purveyor of cheeses and fine foods. He's also earned the title of Taste-Fromage, awarded by the French Association to those individuals demonstrating expertise in cheese.

            They usually stock 200+ varieties. We especially like their fresh mozzarella that they get daily from a producer in Brooklyn. Great this time of year with sliced Jersey tomatoes and a splash of fresh olive oil!

            They also have raw milk cheeses - from both cow and sheep that are produced by small farms in NJ & VT.

            1. re: Foody4life

              Oh good. I mentioned it because I got my boyfriend his grano padano there and found the folks behind the counter very enthusiastic and informative. Boyfriend really liked the cheese, but he also doesn't mind Velveeta. I had a good experience there. It's a very friendly atmosphere. But I'm not a cheese expert.

              1. re: Heatherb

                Toasted cheese with Velveeta = heaven!! :)

          2. re: Heatherb

            Agreed. The cheese counter at Bon Appetit is the best in the area.

            1. re: Heatherb

              where is Bon Appetit? I was at McCaffrey's this weekend and I thought I recalled it was in the same shopping plaza but I didn't see it. Is there more than one McCaffrey's in the area? I was on Princeton-Highstown Rd.

              1. re: mbw1024

                It's in the mall that's off to the side. It has an entrance facing Harrison Street and it's very close the end of the mall nearest McCaffrey's. The signs outside the stores are not that visible.

                1. re: mbw1024

                  There is more than one McCaffrey's. Bon Appetit is in the Princeton Shopping Center, out on Harrison St. I think you were in a different shopping center.

              2. Chef MD, did you mean 'the cheese shop' in Ocean Grove, not in Ocean??

                3 Replies
                1. re: OGguy

                  Although I've never been, I understand that Sickles Market in Little Silver has an excellent selection of cheeses. However, like ChefMD I buy cheese at Wegmans.

                  1. re: bgut1

                    sickels DOES have a pretty great cheese selection... more importantly, unlike Wegmans, Whole Foods, Delicious Orchards, Sickels can boast pretty great service/knowledge as well, and at last check you can count on not only asking questions but getting answers and tastings to boot, at least, that was the case the last time I was there about 2 months ago and for several years prior

                  2. re: OGguy

                    probably so...... i get a little confused, too many "ocean this, ocean that"...sorry.

                  3. Bon Apetit has one of the best selections of high-quality cheeses from all over the world in all of NJ. I am pretty sure they loose money on the cheese department, becasue of the high import prices and spoilage...they make their money on catering, prepeared foods, and the expensive oils and such tey sell....gourmet cheese is just not profitable usual due to spoilage.

                    Wegman's is fine, but does not compare to Bon Apetit. Heck, you buy a $25 piece of Humboldt Fog, and they wrap it in plastic wrap. A cheese aficionado would gasp if a shop wrapper their cheese in plastic wrap.,

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: frackit

                      Your last paragraph would describe the type of cheese person that I am. I'm not looking for pre-cut pieces or plastic wrap -- I'm looking for stores that offer samples before you buy, cut each piece to order from the larger wheel of cheese, and know how to properly handle cheese. Given those expectations, places like Whole Foods don't always fit the bill, at least in Los Angeles. Would Bon Appetit meet these expectations?

                      1. re: glutton

                        Absolument!

                        I thought I would pass on the web link for one of the Doylestown shops that I like for cheese. Doylestown is an easy drive from Princeton so, as I mentioned above, you should go there once you're established.

                        http://www.coteandco.com/

                        Sorry, I can't remember the name of the other cheese shop in Doylestown. Perhaps someone else can help.

                        1. re: glutton

                          Bon Appetit is your place.

                          The owner, Michel Lemmerling is what I would describe as passionate and finicky (in the most flattering way) about his cheese! Most cheeses are cut to order off the wheel then wrapped with great care in waxed paper. Samples are provided and his depth of knowledge about the world of cheese is second to none (at least in Princeton)!!

                      2. In addition to cheese shops, there are also local producers worth checking out. Valley Shepherd Creamery in Long Valley is very good. Their stuff shows up on cheese boards at top NYC restaurants. They sell at a number of central NJ farmers' markets. Also Cherry Grove Farm in Lawrenceville, but they are just getting started and only have a few cheeses so far.

                        1. You can also try The Yellow Canoe at 28 South Main Street in Allentown.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mtiger1

                            I think they've closed. I'm in Allentown all the time lately, and I haven't seen it.

                          2. There are two very good cheese purveyors in the Trenton Farmers Market on Spruce: Olssons and And Everything Nice. They carry different good qualilty cheeses among other things so try them both. Great bread from Everything Nice. You should not miss this market. It it the best place in the area for fresh, abundant and amazingly cheap local produce in season The best tamales I've ever found are from El Tepeyak on Saturdays only. Pulaskis is the best Polish/Eastern European deli you'll find outside of Newark (don't miss the sourdough rye to go with the cold cuts you'll buy there - I've never had anything better). They carry many kinds of cured meats and cold cuts you won't find at Wegmans or anywhere else. Vitellas has excellent fresh ricotta, Italian specialties, and good bread and pastas. Cartlidges has good quality meats. Next door to the market is Halo Farms. I still miss their vanilla and butter pecan ice cream. Very good fresh local milk too (not organic but good), and cheap! Right now the market is open 7 days but not everyone is there. The best time to go is Friday/Saturday for the best selection of everything. I really miss that place. I would always spend my money there before I went to Wegmans.

                            http://www.thetrentonfarmersmarket.co...

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Ellen

                              I just returned from my initial trip to the area and we'll fully move to the area in a few weeks. After our first week, here's what I can tell you (and thank you to everyone for offering tips)...

                              Trenton Farmers Market: We went on a Tuesday afternoon, so our timing wasn't that great. A lot of vendors aren't open Tuesday or were finished for the day. There definitely were good deals, relative to the grocery stores. The quality wasn't bad, but I'll be completely frank when I say that the farmers markets in California offer much better quality. But, everything is local, and this was probably better quality produce than what I saw in the grocery stores.

                              Farmers markets in general just don't seem to be as big of a deal in central Jersey as they are in California. Every neighborhood or town in LA has one. But we don't have farm stands in LA and this part of Jersey is overflowing with them, which is great. Terhune Farms was great, as were a couple of the places we found out near Cranbury. I'm curious what they have to offer in the winter months, when our seasonal eating habits are most tested.

                              As far as cheese goes, we looked at Wegmans, Whole Foods, Bon Appetit, Wholesome Foods, Shop-Rite. The grocery stores were all nice, but not terribly different than what you would find at most good grocery stores. The lone exception to that is the fresh mozzarellas and locatelli -- those are hard to find outside the northeast. Bon Appetit was the store I was looking for -- they had a knowledgable staff, a broad selection, and they cut your cheese to order. Obviously, I'd prefer to have the selection of Murray's or the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, but Princeton isn't Manhattan or LA, so all things considered, Bon Appetit carries an impressive selection.

                              The Bent Spoon was a nice little discovery in terms of local food. And there are more farms that we need to visit (Cherry Grove, for example), so there is a whole lot more local food that we need to discover. Our first glance at the options, though, was encouraging.

                              1. re: glutton

                                Since you mentioned farms, try Stults Farm in Cranbury/East Windsor or Lees Turkey Farm in East Windsor. If I find any good or different cheese stores, I'll let you know.

                                1. re: glutton

                                  Good to hear your trip results and welcome to the area!

                                  You asked about what farm stands offer in the winter months. The majority of farm stands close for the winter and some may re-open between Thanksgiving and Christmas, offering cut and live trees, preserves, gift baskets, etc.

                                  Terhune's is open year round and they offer apples, cider, root veggies, fresh baked good, some prepared foods, etc. during the winter.

                                  Another farm to add to your list for fresh produce and PYO is Honey Brook Organic Farm in nearby Pennington. They sell memberships (shares) which allocate a continual weekly supply of what's fresh picked throughout the growing season. You may also pick your own. More info here:

                                  http://www.honeybrookorganicfarm.com/...

                                  1. re: glutton

                                    You're right, on Tuesday's no one is there. Try the market again on a Friday or Saturday or there is little point in going. It is not the best farmers market in the world, but its the only one around unless you go town to South Philly, and thats truck market produce not local. I've also been to better in California, Virginia, France, Turkey, etc., but it is the best you'll find in the area you asked about in terms of a lot of vendors and local produce. I never had an issue with quality. If one vendors wasn't up to snuff, there were several others to choose from. And if you know what to look for, you can find very good other things there. That's where the best blueberries show up in season, because they're coming from Central/South Jersey. I liked it because I could always put together an amazing meal from what was fresh and locally available. You'll likely be disappointed in the cheese vendors. They're fairly small but I liked them, they got in a small but good selection of cheeses. Everything else around the area is normally one-farm stands, which is fine, but you're likely to find few open after corn/tomato season ends except for the ones selling pumpkins and cider. Both Stultz and Terhune sell at the Trenton market, and you will find more variety there through year end when most other markets close, but again, go on a Friday or Saturday to get the full range of choices. There is also an Amish Farmers Market outside of Princeton in Kingston on 27. Don't go there for the produce, but the meats are worth going for. Some of the prepared food is good too, and some is awful. The pork from there was always good, especially the bacon and tenderloin, their pork/veal/meatloaf mix was great for meatloaf or meatballs. I also liked the rotisserie meats in the back. They sell fresh chicken, eggs, rabbit, turkeys and very good chicken pot pies. Again, not everything is good but you need to work yourself through the place like anywhere else to find what you do and don't like. They're only open Thursday-Saturday. One other place outside of Princeton that you might want to check out for next year is the organic farm share. I don't know the name but you can probably google it might like to sign up for that. There is plenty to find in the area, but it takes looking. And by all means, make a trip to South Philly to the Italian Market for Cheese at DiBrunos and meats, sausages, and pasta from a range of other established quality purveyors. Good luck.

                                2. You may want to take a trip into Philly and visit DiBruno Brothers in the Italian Market. Wonderful selection of cheese. I do love Bon Apetit for cheese though, and do try their curried chicken salad. I think it's the best I've had.

                                  http://www.dibruno.com/cheese-start.html

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: mschow

                                    mschow, Have you ever bought cheese from the Penn Macaroni Co? High quality, terrific prices and they ship cheese with tremendous care.
                                    http://www.pennmac.com/page/34

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      HillJ:
                                      No, I haven't even heard of the Penn Macaroni Co, but thanks for that link. The prices do seem good, though. However, they don't carry my current favorite, PrimaDonna:(( Other than that, what a good selection! Thanks again.

                                      1. re: mschow

                                        mschow, don't hesitate to call the guys running their cheese shop for your fav. My past orders have included varieties not necessarily posted on the site and they've given me options/prices by phone. Now that I'm a regular I let me "surprise me" and I've never been disappointed by quality or price. Happy shopping!