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Oct 18, 2008 02:01 PM

Thank you, Venissimo cheese (SD)

In light of the times, we're eating at home more, it seems (although next stop: The Better Half Recession Special). But yesterday, my husband whirled me into Venissimo even as I tried to hold him back. We were waited on royally; offered tastes of as many cheeses as we dared; given time to press our noses against the display cases and murmur all the pretty names to ourselves-- until finally we walked out with one little Le Chevrot chevre. That beautiful, little stinky wrinkly goaty round transformed our dinner-- and our bargain wine-- into a special occasion. Our own cheese course! What indulgence in these astere times! For $10-15 you too can enjoy excellent service, pleasant shopping, and a cheese that may make you and 3 dear friends forget the election for a few hours.

Venissimo is on Washington Ave in Mission Hills and in Flower Hill Mall in Del Mar. Their website (which does not smell as good as their shop) is

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  1. Agreed. One of the best cheese shops I've been to -- much of it because of the staff who clearly really love what they are doing. I learn so much each visit, much of this from the generous samples they provide.

    1. Aged goat, YUM! Was this your first experience with aged chevre?

      1 Reply
      1. re: cstr

        My first experience of having as much as I could gobble. Decadent. . .

      2. Yes, a special place. Friendly and knowledgable staff. I can't think about buying cheeses from Whole Foods again.

        The last time I was there, I got an aged chevre, a Quebec cheddar, and a wonderful (!) Framani salumi.


        1. In mission hills/hillcrest, we're lucky to have a lot of cheese options- Venissimo, Whole Food$, and my favorite, Taste, further down University.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Fake Name

            Just curious why you like Taste better than Venissimo. I found the latter to have a better selection and better prices.

              1. re: ibstatguy

                It's all subjective- just a personal preference.

                1. re: Fake Name

                  We've had great cheeses from both places, and lucky Hillcrest to have such bounty. But for me, the shopping experience is very urbane and sexy at Venissimo (It feels like being in Paris, Rome, SF or NYC) -- and they have Cow Girl Creamery!

                  1. re: pickypicky

                    I agree, the "experience" is quite fun. I like Taste but Venissimo seems a little easier to navigate and you get to try things you might not otherwise bother with.

                    1. re: MrKrispy

                      Gotta take an exception here. I can walk to Venissimo from my home. But I always prefer to go to Taste because although the people at Venissimo are friendly enough, I find the place somewhat characterless, whereas whenever I go to Taste it's always like going to a party.

                      It might be true that Venissimo has a larger selection overall than Taste. That's never influenced my decision as to which store to patronize, since I rarely purchase more than two or three cheeses at a time.

                      It's like life. A person who lives in a city of 1,000,000 people is not going to have 10x more close friends than somebody who lives in a large town of 100,000. More is simply more, but not necessarily better. (I guess this last statement is directed at those of us who do not have an hour or two to hang out at a cheese shop sampling every variety in the case.)

                      1. re: notjustastomach

                        to each their own and I will happily respect same. I agree that we are fortunate to have two such shops specializing in cheese but I will continue to indulge myself at Venissimo.

          2. My fave is the aged Cheddar from Wisconsin (just forgot the name--how maddening!) There's also a delicious Amsterdam Reserve Gouda that is sweet and subtle-tasting enough to be eaten solo. Venissimo is definitely the place to go for cheese, and it feels great to support a local establishment.

            8 Replies
            1. re: ginael

              Hook's 10 Year Old Cheddar? I love that stuff

              1. re: DougOLis

                Ahhhhh, Hook's! That's it! The sugary crystals that fall off the cheese are absolutely decadant. I haven't found a comparable match to this Cheddar.

                1. re: ginael

                  3- and 5-year aged Gouda. Delectable!

                  1. re: ginael

                    Aniata used to keep your phone number in their system along with your purchases and they could look up what you purchased last time-for those of us whose senior moments occur sporadically. Does Venissimo use the same system? I confess to not visiting the Flower Hill location since the takeover, but anticipate doing so soon.

                    1. re: happensatonce

                      Yes, Venissimo has the same (or similar) system. Their receipts print out facts about the cheeses too and what to pair them with.

                      1. re: DougOLis

                        i love that feature, i forgot to mention it above

                      2. re: happensatonce

                        Aniata still uses the system. I think Bob may still be working for Gina in some capacity. Combining the two will probably make both healthier businesses in the long haul.

                        1. re: ibstatguy

                          Bob is a wholesaler now. He still has Aniata but they don't sell to the public. Apparently he is doing extremely well with that side of the business and decided to devote full time to it.

                          He was/is the best. I always really liked his approach.