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MSP - Cheese at Costco? - moved from Midwest board

AnneInMpls Mar 19, 2009 04:24 PM

I'm co-hosting a wine-tasting dinner with a friend. We usually get cheese from Surdyk's, but we're on a really tight budget this time.

Should we buy our cheese at Costco? (My friend has a membership.)

Specifically, will cheese snobs be disappointed with Costco's St. Andre ($9.79/lb), Couterier goat cheese ($6/lb), "Vintage" aged Gouda ($8.99/lb), Isigny St. Mere Mimolette ($11.49/lb) and Kirkland parmesan ($11.29/lb)?

Thanks,
Anne

P.S. I know I can buy wine at Costco without a membership (MN law), but they don't have anything we want for this tasting. Except a $53 bottle of Justin Isosceles, but we can't afford that! Bummer...

  1. Jordan Mar 19, 2009 04:43 PM

    Nope, they will not. Buy and enjoy!

    1. t
      tex.s.toast Mar 19, 2009 06:20 PM

      Costco cheese is a Really Good Deal. Im actually gonna stock up this weekend for some entertaining as well. Im not sure i would get the st andre there though, as id be a bit concerned about how it was handled and packaged - i would buy harder/less delicate cheeses there in an instant, but id be curious if anyone had positive experiences with softer cheese.

      edit: my mom is big fan of the roughe et noir baby brie sampler packs, and i know that in my previous experience they generally tasted quite good (though not as good as when you genjoy them at the dairy in marin)

      1. cheeseguysgirl Mar 20, 2009 08:24 PM

        As someone who often gets misrepresented as a cheese snob, I can definitively say that CheeseGuy and I often buy cheese at Costco-- especially when we need larger quantities. I would be wary of the St. Andre, because it's generally pretty chalky and underripe- not as good as it used to be, and definitely better if you can buy it in whole (it often comes in a two pack of small truckles) than if it's only in a wrapped wedge. We buy the goat cheese log all the time. We also like the aged Gouda, and the Mimolette and parmesan are absolutely fine. As Tex.s.toast mentioned, if they have the Rouge et Noir sampler pack I'd buy it. If yolu can find the Kerrygold Reserve or Dubliner cheddars, they are a good deal (and should pair well with wine). Their Manchego is a great bargain, and if you find an Ossau-Iraty, I'd consider that as well.

        Have a great party!

        6 Replies
        1. re: cheeseguysgirl
          AnneInMpls Mar 20, 2009 10:19 PM

          Yay, CGG - I was hoping I'd hear from you! I appreciate the info, especially the tips on the St. Andre.

          And I want to clarify that I have no problems with Surdyk's and other full-price cheese shops - I love the service and selection (and I'll be popping in tomorrow to get some blue cheese) - but when one needs to economize, it's good to know what will work on the cheap(er) end.

          Thanks!
          Anne

          1. re: cheeseguysgirl
            mcel215 Mar 22, 2009 05:38 AM

            My Costco carries Duliner Cheddar and it's the only one I buy now. Love it.

            Any help with Parm? I go to the North End and buy Reggiano, but can't find it at Costco.
            A good sustitute? or no?

            1. re: mcel215
              cheeseguysgirl Mar 22, 2009 10:30 AM

              Costco only has Parm Regg on an occasional basis-- the Kirkland Parm or Grana Padano isn't a bad substitute. My current favorite is SarVecchio, made in WI by a company called Sartori. Odd that I love it so much because Sartori is a maker of more commodity than artisanal cheese, but I like the flavor even better than Parm Regg (it's more salty, without the sweetness of Parm that I often don't like). Don't know if it is available in Boston (I am assuming by your reference to North End you are in Boston), but available in the Midwest.

              1. re: cheeseguysgirl
                AnneInMpls Mar 22, 2009 10:38 AM

                Does Costco carry the SarVecchio??? That would be cool...

                I found this cheese last night at my local co-op (Seward) and snapped it up. I read that it just won the "top cheese" prize at this year's Cheese Grammy's (or whatever that event is called.

                I haven't tried it yet, but is smells AMAZING!
                Anne

                1. re: AnneInMpls
                  cheeseguysgirl Mar 22, 2009 03:00 PM

                  I don't think I've ever seen it there. Shame.

                  You are correct, it did win top prize at the U.S. Cheese Championships held recently in Green Bay. I LUUUUUV it!!

                2. re: cheeseguysgirl
                  mcel215 Mar 23, 2009 03:29 AM

                  Thanks and I'll be sure to check out SarVecchio.

                  And yes, I am in Boston.

            2. k
              kevin47 Mar 20, 2009 10:41 PM

              While we have the cheese snobs' attention, what about Trader Joes? They have great prices, but I've been reticent to purchase much because I flatly don't know what I'm doing.

              2 Replies
              1. re: kevin47
                cheeseguysgirl Mar 22, 2009 05:24 AM

                Trader Joe's has decent cheese, if not great artisanal selections, the reason being that they require a 20,000 lb per year commitment from a cheesemaker before they will sign. I appreciate the need for volume, but that cuts out a lot of smaller cheesemakers who don't make that much product. That being said, you can find a lot of good "basic" cheese there- like French Brie, goat cheese, manchego, Irish cheddar, etc. For soft bloomy-rinded cheeses, always make sure the color on the rind is not rusty, and you cannot smell ammonia. Not often an issue, but if the cheese is not good, you should be able to return it without question. That's the mark of a good cheese counter.

                1. re: cheeseguysgirl
                  t
                  tex.s.toast Mar 23, 2009 08:43 AM

                  TJ's will let you return ANYTHING for pretty much any reason - i had a friend once who went shopping but was about to go out of town, so she returned a bunch of unopened but week old items and the store gladly took them back, no questions asked.

              2. Latinpig Mar 21, 2009 05:53 AM

                I have found the cheeses at Costco to be quite good. They also have some oustanding wines if you hunt a little bit. For Whites, the Trevor Jones Chard is very good (Robert Parker 90) for under $20. It is unoaked so it does not taste like much of the Cali overripe butterscotch. There are some reasonably priced Italian and Aussie options for reds as well. Try the Hartford Court offerings (Parker loves these as well). Good luck.

                PS If you drizzle a little honey over the goat cheese it is incredible.

                1. c
                  cstr Mar 22, 2009 07:41 AM

                  It's the same parm etc. that you buy at your snobby cheese store for more $$. Example, I've tried their Point Reyes blue for around $10.pp and it was excellent. Their selection is probably not as extensive as your cheese store but, what they carry is very good. Besides, why are you getting together to critique the price you paid for wine and cheese or to have a good time with your friends.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: cstr
                    AnneInMpls Mar 22, 2009 10:46 AM

                    Except the snobby cheese store has 5-6 versions of parmesan available - some domestic, some Argentinian, and several grades of true Italian parmesan. Plus, I can taste before I buy, it's cut to order, and it's stored and wrapped better (no suffocating-in-plastic wedges). Hence my caution with Costco cheese.

                    And, yes, we do critique the prices at our gathering - my group exists to taste and evaluate wine and food. (it's not just a social thing, though we do have fun!)

                    That said, I quite take your point. Why spend more when you don't have to? Clearly, Costco carries some quality cheese. Like the cheese selection in any shop, not all is fabulous, but some is - and I'm grateful for everyone's pointers.

                    And I sure wish my local Costco had the Point Reyes blue! That would have been perfect for our tasting. It seems like the selection varies wildly across the country and over time. Even across the local suburbs - they had aged gouda in St. Louis Park, but not in Maplewood where my friend shops. (I'm in Minnesota.)

                    Anne

                    1. re: AnneInMpls
                      c
                      cstr Mar 22, 2009 12:00 PM

                      The selection does vary between Costco's, I've been to some that carry, in a limited fashion, locally crafted artisan cheeses, just fab. On your parm comment, only parm comes from Parma, anything else would be 'parm style'. Costco usually carries both 24 and 36 mos aged parm. Has your Costco ever had cheese tastings? I agree, I like to taste, if possible, before buying advantage snobby cheese shop. I'd still give Costco a try on some of your selections and maybe even on some wines.

                      1. re: cstr
                        cheeseguysgirl Mar 22, 2009 03:13 PM

                        Actually, it's Parmigiano Reggiano that is only made in D.O.P. manner in Parma. "Parmesan" is a perfectly acceptable term for cheese made in a similar style outside of Italy.

                        See some pictures of CG and my trip to the Castelnovese Cooperativo Parmigiano Reggiano factory just outside of Modena.

                         
                         
                         
                         
                        1. re: cheeseguysgirl
                          c
                          cstr Mar 22, 2009 03:32 PM

                          Yah, I mean't to say parm regg but, I was too lazy to type it in, for me there's only one original. I wish I could smell the aroma in those pictures, I was there in 2000. Did you get a chance to sample all the air dried hams in the region?, wow!

                          1. re: cstr
                            cheeseguysgirl Mar 22, 2009 03:47 PM

                            We did get a chance to sample quite a bit of local food (although I much prefer serrano to prosciutto), and gained a whole new understanding for what aceto balsamico tradizionale is (the balsamic vinegar that we all get regardless of price is basically commodity dreck, according to our guide Anna, the blond woman that you see in a couple of the pix). Anna said if it's not tradizionale, it's all the same (most coming from Fini)-- so why spend 30$ a bottle when a lower price gets you the same product?

                  2. Azizeh Mar 22, 2009 04:03 PM

                    Do it! I adore cheese and will drop a lot of money, if it's worth it. I'm lucky, my Costco has some good selections for great prices. My favorite is the English Cotswold (basically cheddar with some green onions in it) and Costco has a big chunk for roughly $10. 1/4 of that was costing me $8 at Bristol Farms, and it was the exact same brand. Even better, the cheese was vacuum sealed instead of just saran wrapped, which would sometimes turn moldy fast.
                    They also had some nice salami, and an entire hunk of Prosciutto di Parma for about $150, which is a good deal, if you need that much meat and have a deli slicer. Unfortunately, I'm not in either boat and am stuck paying $16/lb.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Azizeh
                      d
                      dave43 May 24, 2009 03:08 PM

                      Any new finds? I'm a fan of the Cahill porter

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