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Need CHEESE!!!

mrgreenbeenz Sep 15, 2008 05:39 PM

Recently moved back to LA from NY and am slowing dying from a lack of delicious, gooey, stinky cheeses (that are not stratospherically overpriced).

Tried the place at Sunset Junction - wasn't into hipsters who knew nothing about their highly limited selection of goofily overpriced cheeses. Went to Say Cheese on Hyperion which was slightly less over-priced but when I got home I realized the burn-out behind the counter had cut me an end-piece of bucheron - it was like 50% rind and I didn't even get a discount.

HELP!!!

Where is there a SERIOUS selection of cheeses in this town? With real cheesemongers - not some kid saving his ducats for next year's burning man - behind the counter. Any place with more than 25 cheeses . 100+ would be great. I live downtown but am willing to travel. I also will pay a premium if necessary but would really like to find a place that isn't at least a 50% mark up from what I am used to paying in NY.

I'm considering putting up a similarly whiny post about whole bean coffee. So if anyone has any suggestions that don't involve Groundwork or Intelligentsia (both utterly miserable coffee buying experiences in my estimation) I'd love to hear those too.

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  1. Chowpatty RE: mrgreenbeenz Sep 15, 2008 05:44 PM

    I think you're just too good for this town, Mr. Green. I've never encountered that type of help at Cheese Store of Silver Lake, but it's probably best to try to speak with the owner, a 40something portly gentleman named Chris. The Cheese Shop of Beverly Hills is really your only alternative at this level.
    Can't help you with the beans, either, as I'm happy with the two you mentioned or even with Peet's. However, Graffeo is just a few doors from the Cheese Shop of Beverly Hills, and many people enjoy their beans, so you could find two places to complain about in one trip.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chowpatty
      Clare K RE: Chowpatty Sep 18, 2008 08:07 AM

      I'm with you, Chowpatty. The Cheese Store of Silverlake is a true neighborhood gem with helpful and knowledgable staff and an impressive selection of cheese and incredibly well-priced wine.

    2. mollyomormon RE: mrgreenbeenz Sep 15, 2008 07:03 PM

      This is probably farther than you'd like but I love the new cheese store in Santa Monica on Montana. The proprietor is the former cheese guy from Patina and he's incredibly enthusiastic and helpful, as is his staff. I've found Chris at the Cheese Store of Silver Lake to be really gruff and uninviting and I used to live next door and go in often.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mollyomormon
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        vinosnob RE: mollyomormon Sep 16, 2008 09:34 PM

        This is the website for the new place that opened on Montana:

        http://www.andrewscheese.com/

        I went last weekend and the selection and staff knowledge are both excellent.

        Cheese Shop of Beverly Hills is stellar except it's a madhouse on the weekends.

        The cheesemonger at Wally's (on Westwood) is uber knowledgeable and the place has a good selection as well.

        1. re: vinosnob
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          jdwdeville RE: vinosnob Dec 8, 2008 09:39 AM

          +1 for Andrews Cheese. love the energy these guys show for their product, enthusiasm combined with great product and knowledge, you can't go wrong!
          as for coffee, well, i'm from the northeast, so Dunkin Donuts is the nectar of the gods for me!

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        nosh RE: mrgreenbeenz Sep 15, 2008 07:24 PM

        This may be far too pedestrian for your tastes, but give Trader Joe's a try. I don't know how they do on stinky cheeses, since I'm a sharper-the-better cheddar guy, but their prices are the best around and they have enough turnover so the stock remains fairly fresh. Admittedly, no cheesemonger to chat with and provide samples, but they will gladly accept returns on anything you don't care for, and did I mention their prices?

        1. b
          bulavinaka RE: mrgreenbeenz Sep 15, 2008 07:51 PM

          Chowpatty and mollyomormon mention some places that probably have enough stink and drip to make most stinky and drippy cheese lovers moonstruck. In the direction of the more obvious like nosh, you might also consider Whole Foods. They always have a great selection as their growing list of superstores all seem to carry a fair amount of cheeses that are if not will be gooey and stinky with a little time.

          If all else fails, consider ordering from Cow Girl Creamery up in Tomales Bay. We visited them just about every day we were up in the general area as their selection of cheeses, house made and imported alike, made my knees buckle as it did most others. My son and daughter were the two exceptions. Being string cheese advocates, the smells of cheeses ripening in the store as well as their small operation almost made them upchuck their cookies - they waited in the car after the first visit (windows down of course - safe town). The cheeses they make are all from organic ingredients, and the ones that they source are from small cheesemakers around the US but mostly from Europe and many of these choices are organic as well. I've "aged" their Mt. Tam and Red Hawk (which already has a head start) for up to two months and have had good results where my kids left the table holding their noses. If my kids' reactions to the cheeses are of any value, give Cow Girl a shot if your search becomes fruitless.

          http://www.cowgirlcreamery.com/

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            Obessed RE: mrgreenbeenz Sep 15, 2008 08:28 PM

            In addition to Beverly Hills Cheese Store which is amazing, Artisan Cheese Gallery (in Studio City) is also worth checking out.

            1. katydid13 RE: mrgreenbeenz Sep 16, 2008 04:56 AM

              For coffee, pick up some Monkey & Son at Surfas in Culver City.

              2 Replies
              1. re: katydid13
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                Adsvino RE: katydid13 Sep 16, 2008 08:04 AM

                Not fresh and not advised--did that last week. Coffee needs to be fresh, hit Graffeo.

                For cheese, there is the new Andrew's Cheese Shop on Montana in SaMo.

                1. re: Adsvino
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                  condiment RE: Adsvino Sep 22, 2008 09:18 PM

                  Monkey & Sons is pretty godhead, especially if darker roasts are your thing. I like Graffeo just fine, but the M&S Krakatoa blend is definitely a couple of ticks better. I've never had a problem picking up the coffee at Surfas (except for my whole hating-Surfas thing), but I usually order it online.

              2. janetms383 RE: mrgreenbeenz Sep 16, 2008 08:45 AM

                Best Coffee Beans - Pollys Coffee on Second Street in the Belmont Shore area of Long Beach

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                  patz RE: mrgreenbeenz Sep 16, 2008 12:19 PM

                  Kean coffee, owned by Martin Diedrich - it's in Costa Mesa, but they'll ship (and since you're in LA, it'll arrive quickly)
                  i was a bit put-off by the cheese shop at sunset junction the first time i went - i asked the owner to describe a (pricy) stinky French cheese and he literally said "it's good." since then, though, i've had mostly good experiences - try giving it a second chance

                  1. Hughlipton RE: mrgreenbeenz Sep 16, 2008 01:29 PM

                    There is a very nice place in North Hollywood on Tujunga just south of Moorpark called the Village Gourmet. Nice selection of meats and cheese and other gourmet items.

                    1. j
                      Jwsel RE: mrgreenbeenz Sep 16, 2008 02:12 PM

                      I know some people feel Norbert et al are too snobbish at the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, but I have never experienced that. The staff is very knowledgeable, will let you try everything, and are very good about answering questions/educating. (Norbert has done several videos for chowhound about cheese.) If you go in and listen, you'll wind up with a great selection. And if you are knowledgeable and excited about cheese, the staff will love indulging you.

                      The selection is the best in the city by far. It's the best selection I've had other than at Artisanal in New York. They have wonderful variety from France, Spain, and Italy, as well as a huge variety of goat's, sheep's, and cow's milk cheeses. I know some people have knocked them for not having a lot of artisan American cheeses, but I don't find that a big deal.

                      Prices are high, but the quality is worth it.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Jwsel
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                        glutton RE: Jwsel Sep 16, 2008 03:20 PM

                        I agree across the board. This is truly one of the gems of LA. If you show some interest, the BH Cheese Store will go out of their way to make you happy.

                        1. re: Jwsel
                          Hughlipton RE: Jwsel Sep 16, 2008 06:17 PM

                          If Beverly Hills is a destination point for the original poster I totally agree with you. I have been buying cheese at the Beverly Hills Cheese Store for in excess of 37 years. I am always treated nicely by all of the staff and offered tastes of di9fferent cheeses before I make my final selections. I always used their store to get my grated cheese for cheese fondue into which they would at their recommendation throw in some appenzeler for additional flavor.

                        2. Dommy RE: mrgreenbeenz Sep 16, 2008 08:34 PM

                          Great advice thus far... I haven't been to Andrew's just yet... (Soon though!!) but I also have to give a shout out for Cube on La Brea near Melrose. They have a great well edited collection of really nice stuff!

                          Another option for lower price, IF you know what you are doing, is Surfas. Their prices are cheaper than most cheese shops and places like WF... although they do have a couple of employees who know their stuff... most of the time, their counter people are just there to weight and tag...

                          --Dommy!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Dommy
                            Dommy RE: Dommy Sep 21, 2008 07:37 PM

                            Okay... LOVED Andrews!!! It had a tight well edited collection and they guys really knew their stuff... SO friendly, eager to give samples and advice.. Best of all... really good prices... I picked up four wonderful cheeses for a cheese and wine get together last night... they all recieved raves and I spent under under $30...

                            --Dommy!

                            1. re: Dommy
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                              bulavinaka RE: Dommy Sep 21, 2008 07:51 PM

                              Thanks for the follow-up. I'm guessing they open around 10-11? On my list for this week - been hankerin' for some wine and cheese for a couple of weeks now... Thanks again...

                              1. re: bulavinaka
                                mollyomormon RE: bulavinaka Sep 21, 2008 07:56 PM

                                They are open between 10am and 7pm. So glad you loved it Dommy! I am so excited to have such a great selection of cheese with such a friendly staff so close to home!

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                            alli411 RE: mrgreenbeenz Sep 18, 2008 06:41 AM

                            Cheese, one of my favorite foods. The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills is really the place for the largest selection. Besides that, Jenny at Wally's Wine on Westwood Blvd. has a decent selection and really knows her cheese. Joan's on Third has a nice selection. Trader Joe's is another great resource.

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                              nick_r RE: mrgreenbeenz Sep 18, 2008 04:37 PM

                              Well, since you've already denigrated all my favorite places in the course of asking for advice, I'd say just hit Whole Foods for everything and call it a day.

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                                aventinus RE: mrgreenbeenz Sep 18, 2008 07:03 PM

                                What...Intelligentsia is bad coffee? That's just objectively wrong.

                                As for cheese stores, I don't think we have one on par with what you can get in NY. I think you should probably order from formaggiokitchen.com if you are this serious about it. Personally, I think Cheese Store of Silver Lake is excellent, and while it doesn't have the world's greatest selection, there's only so much cheese a person can eat.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: aventinus
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                                  glutton RE: aventinus Sep 19, 2008 10:39 PM

                                  Having been in and out of the NYC cheese stores for years, I can honestly state that the Cheese Store of BH is their equal. The service is a lot better. They might not have the selection of domestic artisinal cheeses, but that's more than offset by the vastly superior service.

                                  1. re: glutton
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                                    condiment RE: glutton Sep 22, 2008 09:29 PM

                                    That's just wrong. Norbert & Cie are great at selling cheese - they're just not so good at keeping it correctly. I can't tell you how many times I've brought home something inedibly ammoniated, refrigerated into chalk, fridge-burned or dead - something that never, ever happens at NYC places like Fairway, Saxelby or Murray's. I've been in there with a bonafide cheese-world celebrity, and he couldn't flee the store fast enough.

                                    1. re: condiment
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                                      glutton RE: condiment Sep 23, 2008 10:17 AM

                                      That's a shame that you've had a bad experience, but I can't help but ask why you did not taste before buying? That would seem to prevent these problems for almost all cheeses but the crotins, epoisses, etc. that cannot really be tasted (but can easily be smelled and touched to gauge ripeness).

                                      1. re: glutton
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                                        condiment RE: glutton Sep 24, 2008 05:27 AM

                                        Not one bad experience: dozens. (Although more mediocre than bad, really.) For years, it was the only game in town, and if you wanted a vacherin mont d'or, a St. Marcellin or an epoisses, it was take it or lump it. I still occasionally drop by when I'm in the area, but Artisan or Silverlake make me happier.

                                  2. re: aventinus
                                    mrgreenbeenz RE: aventinus Sep 21, 2008 08:50 PM

                                    Not saying the coffee is bad there. It's buying coffee for home that's the problem. It's all hermetically sealed - you can't see it, you can't smell it and when I asked the staff to describe something I was handed a fancy piece of stationary that described the coffees with pretentious wine-tasting language - "notes of blackberry with a cherry finish" or somesuch.

                                  3. tablefor1 RE: mrgreenbeenz Sep 19, 2008 08:24 PM

                                    The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills is the original cheese store of the greater LA area. From it spawned all others as mongers left and opened up their own shops. Whenever I mention this place in conversation with non-cheese lovers, they exclaim "ugh, I can't stand the smell in there!"

                                    1. c
                                      chowmominLA RE: mrgreenbeenz Sep 22, 2008 03:05 PM

                                      I'm not a cheese expert by any means but I do remember the nice cheese selection at AOC.

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                                        slacker RE: mrgreenbeenz Sep 22, 2008 04:10 PM

                                        Another option is the cheese room at Palate Food & Wine in Glendale.

                                        Re Cheese Store of Silver Lake, but not about cheese: about a year or so ago when it was really hard to find a Vosges bacon bar around L.A., Cheese Store of Silver Lake had some, I asked them to put two aside for me. I ran in to pick them up, and lo and behold, they charged me $10 per bar. And asked me, don't I want an additional 2 bars. That left a sour mental note for me about that place.

                                        1. t
                                          trvlcrzy RE: mrgreenbeenz Sep 22, 2008 08:05 PM

                                          If you know what you want, then go to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. I live with a bunch of foodie Europeans and they love the prices and selections of both stores.

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                                            archer RE: mrgreenbeenz Sep 23, 2008 08:53 AM

                                            Highly recommend Artisan Cheese Gallery in Studio City. It is not inexpensive, but they have a wide, varied cheese selection-- plenty of gooey, stinky cheeses. (delicious epoisse for example). I've also always found their staff to be extremely helpful; they give lots of samples and are very patient w/ presenting different options until you find the cheese you want.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: archer
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                                              Jwsel RE: archer Sep 23, 2008 11:59 AM

                                              I highly suspect that the OP will not like Artisan Cheese Gallery for the same reason that I do not like it. It is now more of a restaurant than a cheese store. The visible selection of cheese is extremely limited (I guess they might have more in the back, but that is not clear to me). Moreover, they carry very limited quantities of European cheeses. The last time I was there, they had only one type of roquefort -- and told me that is all they will carry at a time. I find your reference to epoisses interesting, as they have never had it in stock when I've visited. Their staff is also quite hit or miss (as the other recent thread discusses). They have a nice selection of American artisan cheese, but I suspect the OP will find the Artisan Cheese Gallery laughable compared to the New York stores to which I think he was referring.

                                              1. re: archer
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                                                laeditormatthew RE: archer Dec 8, 2008 09:50 AM

                                                Yea, Artisan Cheese gallery is AMAZING. They are so helpful and have TONS of cheese!
                                                http://www.artisancheesegallery.com/

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                                                elirarey RE: mrgreenbeenz Dec 8, 2008 03:56 AM

                                                I have always found the selection and service excellent at La Brea bakery.

                                                1. mangobango RE: mrgreenbeenz Dec 8, 2008 08:19 AM

                                                  The Artisan Cheese Gallery in Studio City is VERY hit or miss. The old skinny guy who owns the place is super stingy with samples, doesn't talk about the cheese, and tries to sell you HARD. He literally said to me and 2 of my friends "If you don't like this, then you know nothing about cheese". Ummmmm, people call me the Dairy Queen because I'm a damn Cheez Whiz. I don't need to be scolded by the cheesemonger, thank you very much.

                                                  They used to have a guy there named Michael who looked like Santa Claus and knew everything there was to know about his products. He talked me through the whole shop on a Sunday one time for 90 minutes. The man was a genius because I went in looking to get a quarter pound of Hook Cheddar and left with a $700 cheese party.

                                                  But that was long ago and they fired him for groping a customer or something. I usually head to Cube now, they're fancy and worth every penny. Also, if you want to go grab a cheese plate at a restaurant, go to Lou's on Vine. Trust.

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