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Am I the only northerner who misses Cheese-only shops....

Our local cheese shop -back up north- was the Chestnut Hill cheese shop in Pennsylvania. I miss the experience of walking into a store filled to the brim with just cheese (and crackers and accompaniments). It was great being able to speak to the guys behind the counter and trying something new and getting little samples. The stores down here seem to just have a cheese department but so far I haven't found anyplace that focuses just on cheese. Anyone have any suggestions? I've been to the Cheese Course in Weston but wasn't impressed. It was way too crowded with people ordering sandwiches so we couldn't really check out the cheeses or speak to the sellers without being jostled.

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  1. Westerners miss cheese-only shops too. Feel the same about Cheese Course, it's a sandwich shop that sells cheese. And the cheese sections at WF, etc. are all the same (and mostly with ill-educated employees). I don't think S. FLA is ready to support a cheese shop yet.

    2 Replies
    1. re: lax2mia

      Also tried the others- WF, Epicure. I am surprised that there isn't a cheese-only shop with the amount of non-floridians- either relocated/retired or the "snow-birds" - especially the New York/Phila snow-birds who had access to places like Chestnut Hill or Artisinal and Murrays. I keep hoping to see that one of those stores is opening a branch down here. They'd make a fortune off just myself and my husband. I would live on cheese (and beer and wine) if I could.

      1. re: bella1006

        I totally concur that the lack of cheese stores here is painful. In Winter Park there is a place called Cheese on Park that is pretty good. I have passed a place in Sarasota called Say Cheese but I have not been in. Someone recently made positive comments about the cheese selection at Morton's Gourmet Market in Sarasota but I wasn't that impressed. In all fairness, the woman who runs the cheese counter at WF/WO on Dale Mabry in Tampa is actually very nice and knowledgeable. The best part about it is that she is so excited about cheese that she really enjoys sharing it with customers.

    2. Depends on where you are. There's a Cheese-only shop in Sarasota, and a couple Cheese only vendors at Farmers Markets that I know of in this area.

      1 Reply
      1. re: KiltedCook

        I'm in Broward County- the Coral Springs area and while my geography isn't that great I think that Sarasota may be too far of a drive. What's the name of the shop though?

      2. After a trip to Europe, I fell deeply in love with cheese (we had only a passing affair before that). I came home and I, too, was disappointed to find that SoFla does not love cheese like I do. I have scraped by with Whole Foods and I recently tried the Cheese Course... and felt the same way as everyone else.

        I say: OPEN A PLACE! Think about the cash you could bring in!

        1. To say I miss cheese only shops is putting it mildly. I ache for Murrays and Fairway. When I travel back up north I always make a stop at Murrays and pack one of their lunch boxes filled with cheese.
          I have not found anything remotely close here in Tampa. Fresh Market's cheese selection is horrible. Wild Oats is pretty decent. In fact, it's good.

          1. There's a wine shop on the corner of Sunset Dr (72nd St) and Galloway Rd (87th Ave) called Sunset Corners that has a cheese section. They often have intersting selection. The cheese monger there is very knowledgeable and although its not Artisanal, compared to what we find in S Florida, its a good options. Had a Fresh Burrata from California she had just flown in that was spectacular!

            2 Replies
            1. re: txantxo

              She teaches a Cheese 101 class at Miami Dade. She is awesome indeed.

              1. re: tarepanda

                awesome! thanks for the info. will check out classes for 09! there's also a place in the Gables, that has cheeses. not an over the top selection, but ok compared to what S Florida has to offer. Gusto Fino, its a little shop on LeJeune and Salzedo (i think) 3 or 4 blocks west of Miracle Mile.

            2. You know... I just happened to run across a post that was related to this... There is a permanently established farmer's market called The Boy's Farmer's Market in Delray Beach. It has PHENOMENAL produce and EXCEPTIONAL coffees. There is also fresh local fish, a great bakery counter, a sizeable meat counter and (during any given hour) half of all the Palm Beach County residents above the age of 75.

              The point is: there is also an INCREDIBLE cheese area... they have incredible prices and, now that I think of it, some of the selection is really hard to find... The entire area smells super-cheesy, so I usually get what I need and go... :) The selection is better than what I find at Whole Foods... and it is much less expensive.

              The Boy's is An Experience that I would recommend to anyone... :) :) :)

              1 Reply
              1. re: QTWO

                I second "The Boys" It is located north of Atlantic on Military Trail just beside the post office. You walk in and to the right is a huge cheese shop, all to itself. They also have fabulously cheap produce, lovely fruits, a prepared food bar in the back, and a great selection of prepared salads. The parking lot is a pain in the butt though and unfortunately it is always crowded. I highly recommend this place. Good luck.

              2. In Orlando, the farmers market at Lake Eola has a regular cheese "shop" (i.e. booth). I haven't tried it but I see it whenever I walk by there. They only have the market on the weekends though.

                I visited the cheese shop on Park Avenue in Winter Park. The counter person was very friendly and knowledgeable and the cheese was great. Having said that, I am not a cheese guru but I definitely liked the things I tried.

                1. Not only miss cheese shops, but here in East Coast Central FL non-chain & non-supermarket bakeries are rare,

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: cavandre

                    I think there is a non-chain & non-supermarket bakery opening soon in Orlando. I checked out there website and it looks promising. Their name is Delish New York Bakery and their website is www.delishnybakery.com.

                  2. I was at the Boys Farmers market once and it was close to impossible to find a place to park and just walking into the store was horrendous. It was one of the experiences that made me really miss going to a cheese only shop. I was only there to see their cheese selections so wasn't interested in the rest of the store- although since I was there I did walk around. It was just so damn crowded.

                    1. Since everyone is dumping on Cheese Course in Weston, I thought I'd add a dissenting view. It does most of its business as a sandwich shop true (and damn fine sandwiches they are), but it carries a much wider variety of hard-to-find cheeses than almost everyone down here. Just today I got some Jurrasic hard cheese that is pretty rare and a delicious cheese, and despite the Saturday crowds they offered me a sample first.

                      Now, you won't get the cheese counter service there you'd get at Murray's or wherever, but this unsophisticated South Florida market will not support a pure retail specialty concept like that with the perishable risks of a cheese business. I'm just happy they have such a very popular sandwich business to allow them to stock these rarer high-end cheeses to save me another crappy selection at Fresh Market.

                      If you do want the more personalized service, just visit away from their rush hours, which are all day Saturday, and lunch the rest of the week. Mornings are best as the cheese specialists are there - but I've found you'll never be disappointed if you just ask them what's new and different - they are very knowledgable and will slice you a sample right away.

                      As for the jostling, that's just another example of the rudeness of South Floridians - nothing to do with the establishment - the old Murray's had no room and I never dealt with the elbows and invasion of private space I run into down here.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: YosemiteSam

                        There is a good cheese shop in Pinellas County, St Pete to be more specific - Mazarro's, 22nd Ave N. Lots of varieties, imports as well as domestic selections. My family makes almost a weekly visit where we pick out 3 to 4 varieties to enjoy at home after dinner. Thay also have good coffee and breads. There is a large vine selection as well, however I do not drink alcohol so I can not attest to the quality/variety.

                      2. Word on the steet is that there is a gourmet cheese shop to eventually open in Midtown Miami. The article I saw said they were going to specialize with over 150 types of cheese, and feature boutique types of foods. Let's hope so.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: MGTico

                          Where did you see the article? I hope it does happen but would love to see a shop open in Broward county.

                          1. re: bella1006

                            Did some searching and am assuming this is the article: was posted in the Miami Herald on October 7th. "The Cheese Course, a Weston favorite, has announced plans to branch out early next year with a 1,600-square-foot gourmet cheese shop and bistro at Midtown Miami, 3470 E. Coast Ave.; thecheesecourse.com. " Is that the proposed location 3470 E. Coast Ave? Where is that?

                            1. re: bella1006

                              It is in the Midtown complex. Not exactly sure where. There is a lot of potential for commercial groth there.

                        2. I've had very good experiences at the Whole Foods in Winter Park, staff has on repeated occasions been very friendly and knowledgeable, and they share what they like for sure. The manager of that department is a woman from South France who definitely enjoys what she does. Although I will concede that the selection may be a little generic, have never been to a cheese shop up north so not sure how much selection you are used to. I do find all kinds of Spanish and French goat and sheep cheeses, and I certainly enjoy those.
                          Regarding the Cheese shop on Park Avenue in Winter Park, Cheese on Park I believe, two people have mentioned it was ok, how were the prices?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: fsuj25

                            From what I noticed, most of the prices seemed to run between $20 - $30 per pound. I got 2 quarter pounds and was expecting my bill to be around $12 or so. It was a little over $20--BEWARE THE UNMARKED $8 CRACKERS! :P (In their defense, they were good crackers and apparently some of the money goes to help disabled people but I just wasn't expecting plain crackers to be that much.)

                          2. I'm a native south Floridian and even I miss cheese shops (even though we never had them). Everytime I go out of town, everywhere I go has them and I get so annoyed that we don't.

                            I'm in Boca, so my only options are Whole Foods and Crown Liquors. The selection is limited in Crown stores so it's one of those "while I'm there, I think I'll get some..." places.

                            If anyone wants to open one in north Broward or south Palm Beach county, I promise to be one of your very best customers!!! Really! :D

                            1. Hello, This is Che Bella we own the cheese booth at Lake Eola Market. Come and try our cheeses!! We would love to let you sample everything. We love cheese too and would love to meet you. We are at 5 different markets in the Orlando area. On Saturday we are at Lake Mary and Sanford Farmers Markets and on Sunday we are at Lake Eola, Maitland, and Deland. We usually have a rotating selection of imported and domestic gourmet cheeses and we have samples of everything!! Come see us. My name is Blair and my husband is Ben. See you soon!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: chebella

                                Do you carry Roncal and/or Majon?