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Cheesemongers in TO . . . any hidden gems?

Just back from a fruitless 32-km tour of cheese shops in Toronto in search of Vacherin Mont D'Or . . . and reminded in the process of my growing despair at the inconsistent quality of cheese provisoning (also some truly insulting pricing!) in the city. Advice, anyone please?

Have always been a fan of Scheffler's in SLM for everyday purchases: selection is generally pretty good and I like the fact that they tell you not to buy a cheese that is not yet ripe (though would be better that they didn't display it in the first place). Prices are mostly within reason. And there is no beating Cheese Boutique for speciality items at perfect readiness if you have taken that second mortgage on your house or it's a really special occasion.

But is there a great cheesemonger in Toronto that offers a diverse selection of local and imported cheeses at a reasonable mark-up who really knows how to keep cheese properly and sell it at the proper ripeness?

Am off Whole Foods since the $24.00-Rochetta went mouldy within 48 hours and the "ready-to-eat" Epoisse was like plasticine. Leslieville Cheese market is okay for what it is, but selection is too small for an interesting cheese tray, and supply inconsistent. Alex Farm Shops are off my list--up and down and all over the place: supply erratic and unreliable, delicate cheese kept under the counter in airtight plastic wrap . . . and so on.

Please share your great cheese provisioner tips!

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  1. Hey,

    I am a cheese addict and my two fave spots are About Cheese on Church St. (you can see their selection on aboutcheese.ca ). IMHO they have the best selection of Canadian Artisanal Cheese in Toronto.

    My other go to spot is Nancy's Cheese at Dupont & Spadina (nancyscheese.ca). The shop has a smaller selection but Nancy is super nice and only carries products that she is passionate about. I enjoy supporting smaller shops, like hers, in which customer service is number one.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Hmm

      I second both of the recommendations. Nancy's really is small but she cares A LOT about cheese! I had a 20 min conversation with her about Roaring 40's (one of my fav blue cheeses) and she was lovely lovely lovely and knows her cheese.

      1. re: JennaBean

        Yup-Nancy is awesome. I remember when she started out at Harbord Bakery. She is passionate, knowledgable, and clearly cares about selling cheese at its proper "peak" so to speak.

        SWS

      2. re: Hmm

        Another vote for Nancy! As mentioned by Hmm, she carries a smaller selection, but they're all well chosen. I remember going in a while ago as a cheese she had been aging was selling out - so that is definitely something she pays attention to!

        The nice thing about going in is feeling like a kid in a candy store, and so many delicacies to try. Because it is a smaller place, when it's your turn to order, you have Nancy's full attention and no sense of being rushed, even if it gets busy while you're trying different cheeses. It has a nice neighbourhood vibe that way. And if you're on the lookout for interesting cheeses, it's the kind of thing you can ask about (what might be coming in, etc) without feeling uncomfortable.

        I've been to some of the other cheese shops in TO and enjoyed their wares just as much. Certainly there are many places with wider selections! But it's still worthwhile to check out Nancy's for a chat and some guaranteed good picks. It's the kind of place you can easily come to think of as "your place."

        1. re: c.cow

          Glad to hear all the rec's for Nancy's. I'm so close when I go to Ezra's Pound but I've yet to go in. I will definitely put it on the "to do" list. How do prices compare to the other cheese shops around town?

          I'm a big fan of About Cheese. It's not the largest selection but it's well edited and I find the staff to be quite friendly and passionate about their product. And whil I'm not there often, I love Thin Blue Line as well. Alex Farm, Whole Foods and All the Best are in semi-regular rotation as well but I prefer the smaller shops. I was at Fiesta Farms a couple of weeks ago and I wasn't overly wowed by their cheese organization or selection - on the more basic products, I found the pricing to be quite good but on the higher end cheeses, I found the prices to be right up there. Plus the Grey Owl I bought went pretty funky pretty fast.

          1. re: peppermint pate

            Nancy's is the only place I've been in the city that has properly ripened Brie. No overripe ammonia taste! She is not simply a cheese retailer, she is a cheese "ripener" ("affineur" in French), and that makes all the difference in the quality of her products.

            1. re: myriam5555

              Who doesn't claim to be an affineur these days? 'Caves' and 'affinage' seem to be the words of the day all over the city.

              1. re: kmacd

                Nancy doesn't claim to be at all. That's my label. She's the real deal.

        2. re: Hmm

          Alex at 2594 Yonge is good, though I wish their staff would have some notion of the French language - or at least what the cheese they sell are. Don't ask for advice. Pusatieri's on Yonge : their Cheese Dpt staff is very knowledgeable and helpful. I like La Salumeria: Good cheese selection; the owner is friendly and knowledgeable. A place to avoid (IMO): The Cheese Emporium (245 Eglinton East) : very limited selection; the staff knows next to nothing about cheese and there are hardly any customers in their store.
          Personnally I favor a store where people know what they are selling and can talk about it.

          -----
          Salumeria
          2021 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4S, CA

          1. re: lamaranthe

            Chabichou and La Fromagerie meet your criteria.

            -----
            La Fromagerie
            868 College St, Toronto, ON M6H, CA

            Chabichou
            Toronto, Toronto, ON , CA

        3. You have to check out Gurth Pretty's booth at the Saturday Wychwood Green Barn Farmers' Market. That man knows cheese.

          1. We love Global Cheese in Kensington Market

            7 Replies
            1. re: Sadistick

              I loathe Global Cheese. They will slip you rotten goods, if they can.

              1. re: capiscum

                Amen. "Purveyors of stale crap to the unsuspecting" should be stenciled above the door. Among the few social benefits of Kensington's impending gentrification would be the demise of Global Cheese. Will never forget the decaying hunk of "aged havarti" they sold me once that would have gagged a maggot.

                1. re: Kagemusha

                  +1

                  Literally threw it away. Beware the special blues.

                2. re: capiscum

                  +1 to capiscum on Global.
                  We have had the ol' bait switch done to us more times than we would care to admit. "fool me once..." being the motto.

                  Ditto on Cheese Magic when the owner isn't around. I was handed a parcel of old Benedictin Bleu that was sopping wet in its paper wrapping. How very disappointing.

                3. re: Sadistick

                  I really like the thrill of Global. Sure, you can get some bad stuff if you are not vigilant. But you get to taste everything before you buy, so it is your fault. (Sometimes I buy a bag of "ends", random cheeses extra cheap, no tasting. A fun adventure.)

                  It's been my favourite cheese shop for 35 years. I am a cheapskate.

                  About Cheese had a shop really near my home. I couldn't bring myself to buy their expensive / fancy cheeses very often, so they closed and moved downtown. The very knowledgeable and friendly guy I talked to didn't even know what Esrom was. About Cheese seems to be the retail arm of a distributor of artisanal Quebec and Ontario cheeses. They seemed to supply the Loblaws a few doors away (Yonge & Yonge).

                  -----
                  About Cheese
                  3467 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4N, CA

                  1. re: Hugh

                    "Sure you can get some bad stuff if you are not vigilant. But you get to taste everything before you buy, so it is your fault"

                    This is up there as one of the most ridiculous statements I have ever read on Chowhound.

                    I do not make a habit of patronizing businesses that do not understand proper inventory control or care for their customers. If you choose to sell rotten cheese, then clearly you don't give a shit about customer service. I too have had this experience with Global. I stopped going there a long time ago...

                    SWS

                  2. re: Sadistick

                    Are you all not tasting the cheeses prior to purchasing them?

                    While I agree and unfortunately, have also been the recipient of a 'We do not open this to taste special brie whole wheel' there are deals to be had. (note - this is not a planned destination in Kensington, simply a stop along the way, unlike say, El Trompo)

                    $9 for a wheel of the unpasteurized goat cheese from France, vs $14 elsewhere.

                    As well, I get their fresh churned salted butter - great stuff.

                  3. I really like Chabichou on Harbord. They have an interesting selection, and their baguettes are fantastic!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: eatravel

                      I second Chabichou - and obvs the superfantastic, but oddly located Cheese Boutique.

                      -----
                      Cheese Boutique
                      45 Ripley Ave, Toronto, ON M6S, CA

                      Chabichou
                      Toronto, Toronto, ON , CA

                    2. I think Cheese Boutique is still the best place for buying local cheeses, their selection can't be beat, and they make their own cheese as well. Their prices are reasonable. If you are buying expensive imported cheese their mark-up isn't the issue, its the cost of the cheese. Their local stuff costs no more than anywhere else in my experience.

                      That being said I also really like About Cheese and would highly recommend them. They have a great selection of cheeses from Ontario and Quebec. Helps that they are right by a Cumbraes, its convenient foodie shopping.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: JPJ

                        Thin Blue Line on Roncesvalles is a good little neighbourhood spot. Not necessarily a destination boutique but if you live in the area it's a convenient gem with a decent selection of Quebec and international cheeses, good prices and an assortment of olives, breads, etc...Friendly helpful service too.

                        1. re: jamesm

                          My two go-to cheese shops are Thin Blue Line and the Cheese Boutique. I just LOVE these two spots! They always have exactly what I want.

                          -----
                          Cheese Boutique
                          45 Ripley Ave, Toronto, ON M6S, CA

                          Thin Blue Line Cheese
                          93 Roncesvalles Ave, Toronto, ON M6R 2K6, CA

                        2. re: JPJ

                          There are too many alternatives now(thankfully)to CB's extortionate pricing to excuse them on any grounds. Unless you've money to burn, they're no longer the go-to. They bank too much on their reputation and tend to treat customers like chumps. Who needs that?

                          1. re: Kagemusha

                            I agree kagemusha. Cheese Boutique is off my list. The last time I was there I could not believe how many items I noticed that were past due. If you shop there be very careful and check the dates. Many of those marinades, sauces, spreads should have been tossed months ago.

                            1. re: millygirl

                              Hey millygirl...It looks like Cheese Boutique hasn't changed much since they left Bloor Street about 10 years ago?

                              I complained to them -- then -- that sealed items (sauces, etc.) were stale-dated.

                              I also found tins of Mamade Marmalade makings that had "extreme" puffed-up bulging lids -- I was afraid to touch them, lest they explode in my hands. I warned the staff, and I guess that they (staff) survived.

                              CB is good, though, at putting stale-dated cheeses on sale, and I usually grab a few when I make my semi-annual visit.

                              1. re: Dean Tudor

                                They have so much stuff, I wondered how they keep it all fresh. It's sad to hear this.

                                Last time I bought epoisses they asked me if I was going to eat it right away, and I was intending to but as soon as I opened it (after getting home) it smelled very strong of ammonia. My SO did not enjoy it and so I ate it within the next two days and by the second day I was breathing ammonia.

                                Other than that and the prices I was able to find all the cheese I need there, and the shop is lovely. I do however want to find somewhere else where I can get stuff a little cheaper.

                                If anyone can recommend a place, feel free. Normally my favourites are Mimolette, Irish guiness cheddar, provolone picante, masterchoice beemster, Idiazabal, comte and the more stronger harder cheeses.

                                1. re: BamiaWruz

                                  For French or Quebec cheeses I strongly recommend La Fromargerie and Chabichou. These people know and love these cheeses.

                                  -----
                                  Chabichou
                                  Toronto, Toronto, ON , CA

                                  1. re: mrbozo

                                    I find the service at Fromagerie rather tepid. Even when I ask questions, I get the shortest responses. It's not like they don't have the time, it's never busy in there - wonder why?

                                  2. re: cakesy

                                    The new guy in Liberty Village has a nice selection and is a nice guy. In old Thuet spot - forgot the name - Village Cheesemonger perhaps? He needs to sell bread though.

                                    -----
                                    Thuet
                                    609 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

                          2. Oddly enough, Fiesta Farms on Christie has some awesome cheese. I was there last week and found some Blue Haze - smoked blue cheese from Ontario. Might be worth a visit. The store is full of goodies, decent prices and they've got a nice selection of cheeses, oils and a sublime butcher counter.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: ibraineater

                              Wicked. I've been trying to find some blue cheese and now I know where to go. Awesome.

                              1. re: uberathlete

                                Fiesta Farms is great for cheeses (and Italian foods).
                                Speaking of blue cheese, I once bought some from Leslieville Cheese Market that I still dream about. It was sweet and pungent and creamy. I wish I could remember the name.

                                  1. re: peppermint pate

                                    I can't remember. Is it a little orange-coloured?

                                    1. re: toveggiegirl

                                      Nope. But it is a sweet and creamy blue. Maybe you tried a shropshire blue?

                                      1. re: peppermint pate

                                        Maybe. I guess I will just have to go sample a whole bunch of blues until I find that one again... Poor me. ;-)

                                        1. re: toveggiegirl

                                          toveggiegirl, I think your magic creamy sweet blue cheese is Torta. Made in Italy, wrapped in foil, sometimes the rind under the foil is a bit orange-y. It is layered, Mascarpone and a sweet Gorgonzola and it is truly gorgeous. Dessert on a plate.

                            2. The last Vacherin's I've seen were either at Alex or All the Best. The price seems to have doubled in the last five years, and you may have to call in advance. You might want to also try calling Shay Cheese, as they're usually tuned in on ordering things.

                              I would add A Taste of Quebec to the list of decent places. I would not agree that Cheese Boutique is reasonable in terms of price. Definitely the high end of the scale, and unless you get one of the few knowledgeable people, you risk getting the wrong cheese.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: Snarf

                                Thanks, all, for your tips: checked out About Cheese and Thin Blue Line, neither of which I had tried. Agree that they are knowledgeable AND passionate about their product/s and I did pick up some choice cheeses in good state of ripeness and preservation . . . but still in search of somewhere with a broader selection of local and imported cheeses . . . probably just doesn't exist here! (may have been spoiled by living around the corner from La Fromagerie in London--possibly the best cheese shop in the world outside of France!).

                                But all recommendations much appreciated and I intend to get to every one of them--thanks!

                                1. re: Nelson

                                  Besides Global cheese, which has tons of selection and often some great deals ($5 for a wheel of Brie that is on its last few weeks of life - but still great) Check out the Cheese shop at Eglington and Mt Pleasant - the name currently eludes me (perhaps Cheese Emporium?), and get their Cave Aged Gouda - fantastic stuff.

                                  Oh, and while you are there, splurge and grab some of their Black Truffle Peccorino - you will thank me later!

                                  1. re: Sadistick

                                    Yes Cheese Emporium. I was trying to remember the name of that place. We go to the new shop they opened at Yonge and Melrose. Best spot to pick up cheeses. The staff there are very informed and helpful. They are eager to help you find the right cheese and are quick to offer samples. I love going there. It's time well spent if you're looking for some great, hard to find cheese. Give them a try Nelson. I think you'll be well pleased.

                                    Oh and pick up some Chabichou when you are there. You'll be happy you did, trust me.

                                    1. re: millygirl

                                      Yah we got some Chabichou last time as well.

                                      Trust me though, do not forget the Black Truffle Pecc or the Cave Aged Gouda!!!

                                      They also sometimes have Reblochon, which is always a great choice.

                                      1. re: millygirl

                                        Cheese Emporium is at Avenue and Melrose.
                                        They don't seem to know that North should be at the top of a map. http://www.cheeseemporium.ca/contact.php

                                  2. re: Snarf

                                    Am going to have to respectfully disagree with Snarf's endorsement of A Taste of Quebec. Went this past weekend and sampled some moutinierre and benedictine bleu. Wanted something creamy so asked for a small portion of the moutinierre. The man serving the samples suggested that I purchase a pre-packaged (much larger) portion for $9.50. I did.

                                    Upon opening the package (saran wrap and tightly wrapped wax paper) I noted with dismay the beige/orange colour of the exterior of the cheese. And I love my stinky cheese but (a) this cheese is supposed to be fairly mild and (b) this was clearly rancid.

                                    I had to discard about 75-80% of the cheese.

                                    I really don't like this practice of wrapping up cheese to compel customers to buy larger portions then they'd want. But I ABHOR it when the cheese in the package is rancid.

                                    This place won't be getting my business or my recommendation any time in the future.

                                    1. re: Yum2MyTum

                                      That would be the first time I've heard of any such experience there. Did you try calling them on it? They seem to have had a fairly good attention to detail in the past, and at one point JP Challet appeared to be involved.

                                      1. re: Snarf

                                        I opened the package when I got home so I didn't bother calling them on it. In retrospect I should have called immediately upon opening the package...

                                  3. Costco has a small but respectable cheese selection at the best prices in town. Of course there is no-one there that knows anything about them and you can't taste them, but once you have found a few you like then it's a good deal.

                                    If you want some recommendations...

                                    35 Replies
                                    1. re: Paulustrious

                                      Costco draws consistent snubs by the impecunious, but as Paulustrious sez, it's your loss not to check 'em out. While there's no one there to shill, the staff do check stale dates and pitch old stock--more than I can say for some of the GTA's less egalitarian cheese shops.

                                      1. re: Kagemusha

                                        Like last week's experience @ Alex Farm Products Beaches location: chatting with friend, insufficiently attentive to fact that foil-wrapped German Limburger was overwrapped in plastic. Got it home to discover that "best before date" had been neatly cut out! Cheese was waaaay past it: slimy, brown disintegrating crust w white spots. Never had it like that in 50 years. Returned it next day & clerk waffled about "it's supposed to be strong", BB date "just for inspection, nothing to do with being good"... Eventually got refund & I think he put it back on display when I left. Now having great yen for it, spotted a 50% off in Grimsby RCSuperstore (BB date was next day) - it's now 4 days past & still lovely. This following 2 other experiences w long-past-it merch @ Alex SLM means they've lost me for good.

                                        1. re: beach_cook

                                          I've had problems with the Alex Farm in the Beaches as well. Moldy curds, soft cheese that was way past it's prime and I once got an expensive piece of cheese home only to discover when I unwrapped it that it wasn't what I had asked for. My advice to anyone who shops there is to pay close attention when they're wrapping your stuff and ask to taste before you buy. I've been getting my cheese elsewhere lately.

                                          You might want to try the Art of Cheese on Kingston Rd. instead. I haven't stopped by in a while but they had a good selection of Canadian and international cheeses the last time I was there.

                                          1. re: ms. clicquot

                                            Ms. Clicquot is right on Art of Cheese. Really nice owners and always willing to give samples. Small but well picked selection.

                                            1. re: Otonabee

                                              Art of Cheese is my new local, having moved into the Upper Beach a little while ago. Picked up a nice chunk of Tiger Blue from Poplar Grove on the owner's recommendation, after trying to track down a pyramid of Thornloe's Devil's Rock. Friendly staff, clean shop, good vibes.

                                            2. re: ms. clicquot

                                              I too have stopped going to this Alex location. Overly pushy on the specials and I've always found them to be wayyyyy past due. My wife tried a 3 year old cheddar, bought some (or she thought she did), got it home and it had to be a 10 year old that was past due. Never again.

                                              1. re: BeachHeath

                                                I hadn't been there in a while but needed some curds at the last minute a couple of weeks ago so I stopped by. I got them home and sure enough, they were past their prime. I was going to take them back and complain (I have mentioned freshness issues to them before) but was too busy. I will not be buying cheese there again.

                                          2. re: Kagemusha

                                            Yes, you cannot beat Costco for "standard" cheeses, such as Swiss Gruyere at $10 a pound, or Parmigiano Reggiano at $27 a kilo (Grana Padano slightly less). There's also Roquefort in precut packs, dirt cheap.

                                            Costco even has a few Quebec cheeses, nothing out of the ordinary, but great prices.

                                            No Frills occasionally has real bufala mozz. direct from Italy, dated for a week hence, at under $10 a pack (sorry, I forget the weight).

                                            I buy my "regular" cheeses this way, and splurge on the rest at cheesemongers across the city.

                                            Monforte cheese has a CSA offering, and they are moving into more goat and some cow cheeses.

                                          3. re: Paulustrious

                                            I'd love some recommendations please.

                                            1. re: katbri

                                              The Balderstones (sp?) 6 year old.
                                              The parmesan at $27 a kilo is cheaper then anywhere in the city except Colangelos.
                                              Oka is worth trying
                                              Buffalo mozzarella in water
                                              They have a Canadian Brie which is good but I cannot remember the name. There are a number of Quebec cheeses with French names as well.
                                              Rosenberg Castello Danish Blue - pungent and really Danish
                                              Port Salut is not my favourite, but others like it.
                                              Fresh soft goat cheese is pretty much a constant thing - but the price is excellent in Costco. For more flavour try the one wrapped in plastic straws.

                                              One thing I have never had from Costco is a overripe, ammonia cheese.

                                              1. re: Paulustrious

                                                I have looked for Buffalo Mozzarella at the Costco on Warden and can't find it. As you say there is nobody to ask.

                                                What does the package look like?

                                                1. re: Herne

                                                  I bought it at the Etobicoke location. It came in a package of two plastic tubs, with a cardboard wrappi8ng around them. One ball in each.

                                                  1. re: pastina

                                                    I saw that yesterday at Etobicoke, "Fior de latte" two pack - but it's Canadian cow's milk mozza, not the Italian water buffalo mozza........is it any good?
                                                    Gotta say, for winter in Toronto, being able to get real moazzarella de bufala and good tomatoes [Kumato or rosso burno] for caprese rocks my world.

                                                    1. re: burningrome

                                                      I felt like making pizza, so I picked it up on an impulse. It was okay for that.

                                                    2. re: pastina

                                                      I was at Costco on Warden this am and didn't see it again. Didn't see anybody who looked like they worked there either. Perhaps it is carried only in some Costco outlets. I'll have to try the Etobicoke location.

                                                      1. re: Herne

                                                        When I went last week (Warden) it was there - this week it wasn't. Apologies for sending you on a fruitless search. The BM comes in sealed see-thru tubs partially filled with liquid. It is normally in the same 'fridge' as the Feta, but more towards the centre of the case and on a middle rack.

                                                        I notice that they also have Ricotta in a red 'yoghurt' tub. I haven't bought that as I make my own - with Costco milk and cream.

                                                        1. re: Paulustrious

                                                          Thanks for the info on the location of the BM.
                                                          I guess I should have figured that it is not available every day. Can you say what the tub looks like--colour for example. At first I didn't like shopping there but I've adapted.

                                                          Going back on Monday.

                                                          1. re: Herne

                                                            I cannot remember the colour of the lid, but the container is colourless - ie see-through.

                                                            1. re: Paulustrious

                                                              In the last 3 days I've looked for BMozzerella at Costco at Heartland and at Warden and Ellesmere. It is becoming a bit of a joke since I know that from time to time they have it--just not when I go there::)).

                                                              I was wondering about getting at McEwan's given the price of gas LOL.

                                                              1. re: Herne

                                                                I have the same problem with the Etobicoke location. And not just with buf mozz. It seems everytime I try something from there and like it, I never see it sold there again.

                                                                1. re: Davedigger

                                                                  I asked a helpful guy there who said they had it on as a trial and have stopped stocking the buffalo mozarella. He said if you want it back then post it in the suggestion box. The buyers do read them and if there is enough demand they will re-stock it.

                                                                  Edit: Just tried the Swiss Knight Gruyere. Very acceptable and a stronger flavour than I remember.

                                                                2. re: Herne

                                                                  Sorry to have sent you on a wild cheese chase. If you send me an email I'll let you know next time I see it in Costco. In the past I've seen it at Bruno's Fine Foods (North York) and (I think) at Pusateri's.

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Pusateri's
                                                                  1539 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M, CA

                                                                  Bruno's Fine Foods
                                                                  2055 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M, CA

                                                                  1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                    Vince Gasparros at Bloor and Ossington often has it.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Vince Gasparros
                                                                    857 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G, CA

                                                                    1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                      Well I've been to Costco on Warden about 4 times in the last month and still haven't seen the BufMozzerela. So this weekend its Alex Farms that will get my business--if they have any.

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Alex Farm
                                                                      377 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K, CA

                                                                      1. re: Herne

                                                                        I have seen buff mozz at two different Costcos this week, Ajax and Woodbine (Markham).... I think some one used the suggestion box.

                                                                    2. re: Herne

                                                                      I've only ever seen it once at the Etobicoke costco, the caveat is that I only ever go on Sat or Sun, when it's a total zoo. I have seen it almost every weekend at the 2 No Frills near me (Landsdowne and Dundas, Bloor west village) and at the Jane and Dundas Loblaws, for $9.99.

                                                              2. re: Herne

                                                                I saw Buffalo mozzarella at Mcewan's at $9.99 about 3 weeks ago. Maybe somebody reads this site::))

                                                                1. re: Herne

                                                                  Interesting! I was the sucker that paid $20 for it from him last year. On three separate occasions.

                                                          2. re: Paulustrious

                                                            Really good thread, too bad none of this stuff is local to me!

                                                            I just renewed my Costco membership recently and bought a smoked gouda there the other day, Le Calumet or something along those lines. It was really, really good, served it with crackers & beer when I had buddies over and everyone really liked it.. Anyone else like this cheese? Nobody has mentioned it

                                                            @Paulustrious - would really like to check out that Canadian brie, if you remember the name let me know! Also about your comments, I've had ammonia-smelling brie almost every time I;'ve purchased it lately from Sobeys, so I really hope this rings true

                                                            And one more last quick question for you guys.. I'm a big fan of just eating my cheese with crackers. it's a good snack for when my beer drinking buddies are over, and I enjoy trying new types. Any specific reccomendations that would go good with beer and crackers, I'd really be interested in checking out!

                                                            thanks in advance!

                                                            cheers

                                                            1. re: Paulustrious

                                                              Is it just me or has Port Salut changed a lot in the past few years? I hadn't tried it in a while and I just had some and man it tastes waaaay to creamy - in a processy kinda way. It is off my list.

                                                              Grab the Oka instead if you're in a supermarket-cheese jam peoples!

                                                              1. re: Sui_Mai

                                                                Heh. I remember how Oka cheese tasted a few decades ago, before it was marketed outside Quebec and before Anco got involved, and for almost the past 20 years have found it to be almost tasteless. Go figure, eh. Heck, I even remember when Havarti had a distinct and pleasant flavour. Oh well, that's progress I guess.

                                                                1. re: mrbozo

                                                                  It's true, Oka has gotten worse too - and so many kinds??? It really is hard to get anything from the grocery store of quality - all homogenized to $#@$!

                                                                  Grocery store Asiago is another that went from hero to zero in just a few years flat!

                                                                  1. re: Sui_Mai

                                                                    If you want to taste what Oka used to taste like when it had personality IMHO, try Mont Jacob from Quebec. Creamy, semi-firm and just a bit of that delectable pungent savoury flavour. You can get it at About Cheese, All the Best and Grain, Curd and Bean on Dundas West.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    About Cheese
                                                                    3467 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4N, CA

                                                                    1. re: clochette

                                                                      I just tried Mont Jacob - it is wonderful and you are spot on about the old school Oka flavour.

                                                                      Leslieville Cheese on Queen West has it. One thing about that store though - they don't write the names on the packaging - grrr.

                                                          3. re: Paulustrious

                                                            Costco's wedges of Parmigiano Reggiano are a fantastic value.

                                                          4. I love cheese, but certainly can't claim to be dogmatic about it. That said, I've always enjoyed my purchases from La Fromagerie. Friendly, knowledgeable staff, and I've never been disappointed in their products. 868 College st., west of Ossington.

                                                            -b

                                                            -----
                                                            La Fromagerie
                                                            868 College St, Toronto, ON M6H, CA

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: goofibulator

                                                              I have always enjoyed my experience there too. The staff take the time to find out your tastes and let you sample till you find something you like. Very expensive, but worth it for special occassions.

                                                              1. re: goofibulator

                                                                They are an excellent purveyor of Quebec cheeses.

                                                              2. At SLM I go to Olympic for cheese, never Scheffler's or Alex Farms. Too rippy offy or at least I always felt had when I used to give them my money.

                                                                In my nabe, I go to Epicure on Parliament just south of Carlton. Small, but mighty.
                                                                http://www.theepicureshop.ca/
                                                                http://www.torontoplus.ca/toronto/ven...

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: Googs

                                                                  Somehow, Epicure missed my radar. Looking at the product listings on their website, your description about them sounds right on.

                                                                  I am also among those who feel ripped off whenever I go to SLM to satisfy my cheese cravings. It's good there is this thread.

                                                                  1. re: Googs

                                                                    Hi, I'm curious to know - what is it you prefer about Olympic? I find their cheese prices to be consistently higher than Scheffler. Not every item, and not by a lot, but on most of the kinds I would normally buy.

                                                                    In the past I've been a victim of the sneaky rotate-the-wheel manoeuvre at Olympic. You know, where they line up the knife edge (or wire) to show you how big a wedge they're going to cut, then when they think you aren't looking, they'll drastically reposition the cutting angle to maximize the amount of rind you're getting.

                                                                    1. re: Omnibus_Eater

                                                                      Well to start, they've never tried to rip me off. To finish, they've never tried to rip me off. Oh, and their cheeses are good too.

                                                                  2. Anyone know where to buy one of those cheese shavers I always see people using on TV? It's like a handheld kitchen tool, makes thin or thick slices of cheese by just running it against the piece of cheese

                                                                    Surprisingly I haven't been able to find this easily.. No luck at Wal-mart's kitchen section as well as at least 3 or 4 other stores..

                                                                    or is there a best kind people reccomend?

                                                                    thanks!

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: duckdown

                                                                      Cayne's delivers if you aren't close.

                                                                      http://www.cayneshousewares.com/produ...

                                                                      By the way, when I worked at a (unnamed) cheese shop, we used the cheese shavers to 'clean-up' the past due fromage, repack, relabel and re-sell it.

                                                                      1. re: duckdown

                                                                        Should be available from Home Outfitters/The Bay. Golda's out on Argentia in Miss.should have them, too. There's an off chance the Canadian SuperStores' often-large cookware sections might have them, too.

                                                                        1. re: Kagemusha

                                                                          thanks jnine and Kagemusha.

                                                                          Never knew about Golda's there, I go to Jacox Harley-Davidson just next door often enough.. pretty cool little store they got there (Golda's) tucked away at the back. No signs from the street so you'd never know it was there.

                                                                          picked up a 3 piece set by Swissmar with the shaver and two cheese knives. Thanks for the tip !

                                                                      2. For Italian cheeses and other grocery items, the prices are great at Grande Chese.

                                                                        1. I recently visited "Goat Inc. Cheese Shop" (silly name, would make you think all they sell is goat cheese) in Port Credit and picked up some good cheeses. Unfortunately the owner said business has been slow lately so they didn't have alot of inventory in stock.

                                                                          Picked up some Beemster XO, a nice wedge of Fleurmier (a camembert style cheese), and a wedge of Niagara Gold. All 3 were really good, and he even threw in a small piece of an onion-cheddar on the house. I don't dig onions, but the other people in my family said it was really good.

                                                                          Love that beemster XO with the crunchy bits in the cheese.. delicious

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: duckdown

                                                                            I agree, I've been to Goat Inc, a few times and the owner has always been pleasent and helpful. The selection has been somewhat limited, but varied and well balanced. the prices are reasonable for special ocasions, but not for everyday eating, plus its next to the "Pump and Patio" great place to sit and enjoy a pint while shopping in clarkson

                                                                          2. Did you ever find that Vacherin Mont d'Or?

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Davedigger

                                                                              No . . . eventually reverted to Cheese Boutique where they informed me snootily that they stop selling it in January (two years ago when I looked for it in November, they said they never sell it before Christmas--must be there only for a fleeting moment!). Alex told me a story about issues with their license (same story as last year). What I don't understand is that I have found it easily in previous years, so not sure what the problem is this year and no-one in the business seems to know either.
                                                                              But thanks everyone for so many great suggestions--have been to most of them and greatly broadened my familiarity with Toronto's cheese scene!

                                                                              -----
                                                                              Cheese Boutique
                                                                              45 Ripley Ave, Toronto, ON M6S, CA

                                                                              1. re: Nelson

                                                                                Vacherin Mont D'or has a limited season with not much of it available for export. Histroically the main supply has been imported in time for Christmas. This has created a 'tradition' of sorts that people use it as a "Christmas cheese", which creates a kind of cycle - e.g., demand is highest around Xmas so that's when it's brought in. This past year the shipment was stopped at customs for testing and contamination was found in some rounds so the entire lot was prohibited from entering the country. That's why you didn't find any on your rounds. I'm surprised that no one told you this when you were asking for it. It was fairly common knowledge in cheese circles.

                                                                            2. Chabichou, 196 Borden St. (at Harbord St.), 647-430-4942, is a fantastic French fromagerie.

                                                                              A piece about them in Toronto Life: http://www.torontolife.com/features/c...

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: mrbozo

                                                                                Finally bought some Buffalo Mozzarella at Alex's Farms at SLM. On sale for $10.99. It looks and tastes very good and will not last long.

                                                                                1. re: Herne

                                                                                  A lot of energy in this thread!
                                                                                  For ricotta and some pasta filata cheeses, try:
                                                                                  International Cheese Co Ltd
                                                                                  67 Mulock Avenue

                                                                                  It's a block E of Keele and two blocks S of St Clair. I've bought still-warm ricotta from them.

                                                                                  1. re: Doopsylalolic

                                                                                    That still-warm ricotta has won the World Championship--yes, WORLD--for ricotta-making for a number of years . . . Italian producers are envious. Try it with fruit compote for desert or roasted Radiccio with balsamico and basil as a starter . . .

                                                                                    1. re: Doopsylalolic

                                                                                      I second the ricotta at International Cheese. Served it with bbq'd peaches n' liquor. Yum.

                                                                                  2. I'm a big fan of the Alex Farm on the Danforth-the staff are sometimes a little cold, but they're knowledgeable, and I've never had anything but great product from there.

                                                                                    And I agree to the various Costco endorsements-for standard cheeses, it's a bargain.

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Alex Farm
                                                                                    377 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K, CA

                                                                                    12 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Dissy

                                                                                      I've been there a few times, and it's not bad. I do agree about them being cold but they seemed to have a lot of cheese.

                                                                                      1. re: BamiaWruz

                                                                                        I dunno, I am kind of put off by all of those bad reviews about stale-dated cheese from Alex Farms on here. I've only been in a couple times and they don't seem friendly at all.

                                                                                        -----
                                                                                        Alex Farm
                                                                                        377 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K, CA

                                                                                        1. re: Flexitarian

                                                                                          I should clarify that my comments about Alex Farms and freshness applies to the Beach location only. I haven't been to the Yonge/Eg, Danforth or SLM locations in a long time but never had problems with them in the past. I have definitely had issues with the store on Queen St. East three different times so buyer beware at that location.

                                                                                          -----
                                                                                          Alex Farm
                                                                                          1965 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L, CA

                                                                                          1. re: ms. clicquot

                                                                                            I have purchased cheese from one of the locations at the SLM, the one near the fresh pasta lady and not in the corner by the bagels.

                                                                                            Anyway, they were very rude and not taking me seriously at all, like I wasn't going to spend any money - just because I look younger than I am, maybe but that's still no way to treat me.
                                                                                            I did buy mimolette and stillton and paid close to $30, when I asked about other cheeses and what they were it was as if they just didn't want to waste their time with me and wanted me off.
                                                                                            The other location at the back was even WORSE, they all just stand around and stare, no asking if they want to help or anything... I was really fed up.

                                                                                            1. re: ms. clicquot

                                                                                              As were mine. I've always had good luck with the guys at SLM and on Danforth.

                                                                                        2. re: Dissy

                                                                                          Sometimes a little cold???? You've got to be joking me. They're downright rude. I was in there today - against my better judgement but it was on the way home. I almost walked out there was so much attitude. I usually got o the Queen E. location. The manager and staff there are very friendly. The crew on the Danforth, NEVER again. Such a switch from 6 or 7 years ago when Tom worked there. I drop at least $200 on cheese every month and the Danforth Alex location is not getting another penny of it.

                                                                                          1. re: kmacd

                                                                                            Alex Farms' Leaside location on Bayview has very good service. Always willing to help you out, recommend something new and give you a sample or 10 without a hint of attitude.

                                                                                            1. re: hal2010

                                                                                              That's my experience as well. Bayview shop has reasonably good service. I'm not sure what explains the Danforth shop but it seems to be a common experience from comments on the web.

                                                                                              1. re: kmacd

                                                                                                I have never had bad service at the Alex Farms location on the Danforth.

                                                                                              2. re: hal2010

                                                                                                ... and Alex Farm's Humbertown location has great service. Use them for my "regular" cheese stock (except for parmesan, which I get at Costco).

                                                                                                I still go to Cheese Boutique for the special occasion cheeses (used to go there every week, but then started to wonder why, after 6 - 8 months of going once per week and dropping $100+ per visit they still didn't seem to know that I was a regular?????)

                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                Cheese Boutique
                                                                                                45 Ripley Ave, Toronto, ON M6S, CA

                                                                                                Alex Farm
                                                                                                377 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K, CA

                                                                                                1. re: CocoTO

                                                                                                  (used to go there every week, but then started to wonder why, after 6 - 8 months of going once per week and dropping $100+ per visit they still didn't seem to know that I was a regular?????)

                                                                                                  That's a good definition of bad service. Not taking the time to getting to know a customer. As is rushing through customers. As is presuming to know more about a product than you actually know. Once at Cheese Boutique when I asked if they had Testun di Pecora, I was told by three people that there was only one variety of Testun - Testun al Barolo. I knew that wasn't true because I'd had three different versions in the past (capra, pecora and barolo) and I'd bought them directly form Beppino Ocelli, the maker, in Italy. It's all in the attitude. Take the time to get to know your customer and you'll likely have them for life. Give them attitude and they likely won't be back. My experience in Toronto is that few of the people working in cheese shops actually know much about the product they're selling. They buy from distributors with import quota like Les Dependances and repeat the stories they're given by the distributor and their subdistrbution networks.

                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                  Cheese Boutique
                                                                                                  45 Ripley Ave, Toronto, ON M6S, CA

                                                                                              3. re: kmacd

                                                                                                I tried to buy a specific weight of cheese there and they cut me off double that. This was on a day when I was feeling wimpy, so I paid, but I will never go back to the Alex's on the Danforth again.

                                                                                            2. I've bought cheese at La Fromagerie (excellent!), St. Lawrence Market, Cheese Boutique, Shay Cheese delivery box. The cheese that had guests enraptured was some French cheese from Costco (Saint Morgon). They have some great crackers too!

                                                                                              -----
                                                                                              St. Lawrence Market
                                                                                              92 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E, CA

                                                                                              Cheese Boutique
                                                                                              45 Ripley Ave, Toronto, ON M6S, CA

                                                                                              La Fromagerie
                                                                                              868 College St, Toronto, ON M6H, CA

                                                                                              1. I can't believe that I and no one else has mentioned Ewenity at the SL Farmers Market. Here's a complete list of where you can purchase, though I believe the SLFM stand is the most comprehensive.
                                                                                                http://www.ewenity.com/blog/?page_id=13

                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Googs

                                                                                                  Very nice. Thanks. Must do some tasting.

                                                                                                  1. re: mrbozo

                                                                                                    Yup, Ewenity great products. The Eweda Cru is excellent. A raw milk cheese with delicious nutty flavour. Also try their 6% sheep milk yogurt.

                                                                                                    1. re: acd123

                                                                                                      Thanks for the heads-up. Think I'll check out Whole Foods on Avenue and Fiesta Farms.

                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                      Fiesta Farms
                                                                                                      200 Christie St, Toronto, ON M6G, CA

                                                                                                      1. re: acd123

                                                                                                        I recently tried ewenity's sheep milk and sheep yogurt and the taste nearly brought me to tears. I'm not a milk drinker by nature, though I love cheese. I was lactose intolerant as a baby and child and though I can tolerate cow's milk and products now, I vastly prefer goat or sheep milk products. I'd never tried sheep milk or yogurt before. They are positively heavenly. My boyfriend thinks the superior taste is simply due to the higher content of fat, but I think it's more than that. The milk is so sweet and rich without being cloying. I really think that the health and happiness of the animals comes through in the flavours of the milk and milk-based products. I'm a ewenity convert! I can't wait to try out the cheeses.

                                                                                                        1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                                                          As acd123 says, the Eweda Cru raw is more than just a great play on words. It's a sublime cheese you'd be happy to serve to guests though you may want to keep it to yourself. To that yogurt I stir in fresh berries for a taste that'll make you forget about anything pre-made.

                                                                                                          You can taste test all of their wares every Saturday morning at the SL Farmers Market. Go hungry.

                                                                                                  2. You mentioned Leslieville Cheese Market. While following up I noticed the following events:

                                                                                                    1) Beer vs. Wine vs. Cheese – $40 per person
                                                                                                    Julia Rogers and Sam Corbeil square off, wine vs. beer, in a fantastic and fun evening of tutored tasting.

                                                                                                    2) Night School for Cheese Fans – $20 per person
                                                                                                    Julia Rogers is one of Canada's foremost cheese experts. Classes include wine with a flight of cheeses.

                                                                                                    3) Beer School for Cheese Fans – $30 per person
                                                                                                    Brewmaster Sam Corbeil trained as a Brewmaster in Germany. His knowledge of the world of beer is formidable. Sam is no slouch when it comes to cheese. He will be pairing five beers with five cheeses, and surely heightening our appreciation of both.

                                                                                                    Better descibed at their own site.. http://leslievillecheese.com/school_e...

                                                                                                    Anyone been to one of these?

                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                    Leslieville Cheese Market
                                                                                                    891 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

                                                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                                      I went to a workshop there — it must have been the night school. The cheeses were heavenly, but the wine pairings were a bit off. It was clear that the woman running the event was a cheese expert and not a sommelier. Many of the wines were cheapo ones. It was a fun night, but go for the cheese, not the wine or the pairings.

                                                                                                      They would really benefit from getting a sommelier in to set up those pairings — what's the point of such an event if the cheese does better on its own?

                                                                                                      1. re: Sarah Cat

                                                                                                        Here, I'll say it: Wine does NOT go with cheese. They'll always taste better without each other interfering. Aaaaahhh I feel much better now.

                                                                                                          1. re: Googs

                                                                                                            beer!, good beer, goes great with cheese

                                                                                                            1. re: Googs

                                                                                                              A good sommelier would change your mind in a heartbeat!! Good pairings are HEAVENLY, dear Googs!! Next time you're at a wine bar or restaurant with a sommelier on site, ask for pairings. I beg of you!

                                                                                                              1. re: Sarah Cat

                                                                                                                Honey, I'll pair wine with soup. That's right. A liquid with another liquid. It's all about flavour. What I won't do is ruin a perfectly good tasting wine by having it with cheese. Cheese alters the taste experience, but doesn't make it better. Thank you for your concern, though.

                                                                                                                1. re: Googs

                                                                                                                  Now you tell me! All these years I've been going to "wine and cheese
                                                                                                                  events I should have known better! I'll remember to liquify my cheese next time I have it with wine. :-)

                                                                                                                  1. re: foodyDudey

                                                                                                                    Better than cheesifying your liquid.

                                                                                                          2. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                                            That sounds cool, I am always looking for good pairings of beer and cows milk cheeses! I don't know much about cheese and what styles are a good match -- but I want to learn

                                                                                                            1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                              I've mentioned it before and I know it's a trek for you but you would get great recommendations for beer and cheese pairings at Volo. I've been to tasting events there with the above mentioned Julia Rogers, who really knows her stuff, but also Volo owner Ralph and his wife are incredibly supportive of local craft brewers and cheesemakers.
                                                                                                              http://www.barvolo.com/

                                                                                                              1. re: JamieK

                                                                                                                You forgot the most important part for dd. If it hasn't been turned into a condo, there's a Green P on the south side of Wellesley just a stone's throw east of Yonge. About a 3 minute walk from there to Volo.

                                                                                                          3. Monforte deserves a mention here. Now that they have restarted production they are building up their stock and have a good breadth of aged cheese now, as well as lovely ricotta, fresh pecorino and fresh goat cheese. They are on the farmer's market circuit year-round (I see them at Wychwood Barns on Saturdays).