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Good Cheese in Baltimore

t
tartuffe Aug 15, 2013 10:03 AM

Ever since the closing of the much-lamented cheese shop --it even had a cave! (name forgotten) where Iggie's now sits, good cheese has been hard to find in Crab Town. I have found two recently that I like, however.

Atwater's in Belvedere has a small, but very good selection with good tasting notes and the cheeses are mostly a point. Much better than the last time I was there.

The Wine Source in Hampden also has a nice selection along with a very helpful fromagelier (sp?). WS also has the real advantage of a first-rate salumi selection.

  1. t
    tartuffe Aug 21, 2013 08:14 AM

    Does anyone know what's happened to the fromaggier I mentioned in the OP? He ran a cheese store with cave where Iggie's now stands

    1. b
      bagnacauda3 Aug 16, 2013 08:08 PM

      I agree with both places. I've lived in several cities much larger than Baltimore (NY and LA) come to mind and Wine Source in particular has a quality of cheese to rival most places in those cities. I think if Murray's Cheese were down the street I'd still probably prefer Wine Source.

      Wegmans, Whole Foods etc have selection but they don't store their cheeses appropriately and the cheese is not nearly as good as the same thing purchased at Wine Source. And Atwaters has a much smaller selection than either but again stores cheese properly so when you bring it home everything is delicious.

      10 Replies
      1. re: bagnacauda3
        b
        bmorecupcake Aug 16, 2013 08:38 PM

        Completely agree! Couldn't have phrased it better myself.

        Not just Adam, but all three cheesemongers at The Wine Source are very good. The smaller Atwaters (non-Belvedere) have a smaller selection of cheeses and aren't stored as well, IMO. But I still purchase cheese from my local Atwaters nonetheless. Sometimes they get cheese even Wine Source might not carry. Once we asked Atwater's staff about the rennet (animal vs vegetarian) in a cheddar, and were told they couldn't find out because the Amish cheesemaker had no phone. Trader Joe's has an interesting Cheese of the Month program and are often sampling their cheeses at the Pikesville location. I haven't had consistently good cheese service at the Columbia Wegman's or Harbor East Whole Foods, but the couple times I have found helpful workers at Whole Foods, they were happy to let me sample any cheese so I could check if I was happy with its current state.

        1. re: bmorecupcake
          fldhkybnva Aug 19, 2013 09:30 AM

          If you find the right employee at Whole foods or Wegmans it's great but often it seems like a chore to them to allow you to taste or even to cut the desired amount that you want.

          1. re: bmorecupcake
            fldhkybnva Aug 31, 2013 10:50 AM

            My waistline hesitates to thank you for the Wine Source recommendation. I made a visit yesterday and it's fantastic! I had to restrain myself but not only i I walk away with some delicious cured meats but a variety of cheeses which made for a lovely cheese platter snack. Thanks again.

          2. re: bagnacauda3
            fldhkybnva Aug 19, 2013 09:29 AM

            When you say "don't store their cheeses properly" are you referring to the pre-slicing and wrapping in plastic wrap? Sorry, I'm jut trying to learn a thing or two.

            1. re: fldhkybnva
              b
              bagnacauda3 Aug 19, 2013 09:36 AM

              I'm not an expert, but properly stored cheese, as the original post suggests, should be in a cave, a cool, dark, dry environment. If wrapped, it should be in paper.

              Whole Foods and Wegmans can often have good cheese, don't get me wrong, but they do store cheese on the shelf in plastic wrap often for long periods of time which degrades them. Specialty cheese shops generally have more throughput and also store most of their cheese in the back where it seems to fare better.

              I think the best way to decide for yourself is to try the same cheeses from two different stores and see what you like.

              FWIW I find Wegmans better than Whole Foods if that matters.

              1. re: bagnacauda3
                fldhkybnva Aug 19, 2013 09:46 AM

                I see. I do bring the cheese home and immediately stash it in cheese paper. I have noticed that Wegmans seem to have less pre cut slices ready and wrapped than Whole Foods which might account for the better quality. I don't think I've ever had to ask for them to cut a slice off the wheel at Whole Foods but occassionaly do at Wegmans. I am definitely going to check out the Wine Source. I'm quite the cheese fanatic.

                1. re: fldhkybnva
                  b
                  bmorecupcake Aug 19, 2013 08:46 PM

                  I also immediately rewrap cheese in cheese paper. This works very well with Trader Joe's Cheese of the Month program because that cheese doesn't sit long in plastic wrap.

                  Wine Source does have pre-cut slices for self service customers, but almost all cheeses will be mostly on wheels and they will happily slice a sample for you. They even slice and discard the part that was touching the plastic wrap so you get a "clean" sample. And they always wrap purchases in cheese paper for you. Unless you're looking for specific cheeses, here's what I recommend at Wine Source. Walk in and ask if any cheeses just came in that haven't been put out for display yet. Ask to sample those cheeses. I've yet to sample a cheese this way that I didn't like. I'll usually spend all our budget on these "brand new" cheeses. And our cheese purchases go in the trunk now. Otherwise, a slice or two disappear even before we get back home. We've even had to go back in from the parking lot to get another slice. :)

                  1. re: bmorecupcake
                    fldhkybnva Aug 20, 2013 04:56 AM

                    Great, thanks. You brought up a point I totally forgot. I waste a lot of money with most cheese as I do end up cutting off the part near the plastic on both sides which has dried out. I'm headed to the Wine Source Friday afternoon so I'll be sure to heed your suggestion.

                    1. re: fldhkybnva
                      b
                      bmorecupcake Aug 20, 2013 12:15 PM

                      They make fresh mozzarella on Fridays, too. Call ahead to see what time they'll be done with the mozzarella, as their schedule varies. The mozzarella ranges from "excellent" to "still pretty good" as it's not an exact recipe.

                      1. re: bmorecupcake
                        fldhkybnva Aug 20, 2013 01:05 PM

                        Uh oh, you've hit my new weakness. I used to hate mozzarella until I tried some fresh from Wegmans in fact and now I'm hooked. I'm thrilled to hear Wine Source makes it fresh as I'm sure there is better to be had. I guess I better plan to indulge in a ball of mozzarella on Friday night, I can't help but eat the entire thing in one and at most two sittings.

          3. m
            maddogg280 Aug 16, 2013 07:49 AM

            You're probably already aware, but Wegman's has great cheese selection and friendly, helpful, knowledgeable staff. Both Hunt Valley and Columbia locations have excellent stock.

            1 Reply
            1. re: maddogg280
              fldhkybnva Aug 19, 2013 09:28 AM

              I really enjoy the Wegmans cheese selection. On Saturday, a wonderful employee was super excited to have me try literally 10 different cheeses to find something new that I liked and alas I walked away with 3 new very good cheeses. I buy most of my cheese at Wegmans or Whole Foods.

            2. l
              lawhound Aug 16, 2013 05:54 AM

              Has anyone been to Cheese Galore & More at Cross Street Market? Their web site suggests a remarkable variety of cheeses, but I have not been to Cross Street in awhile.

              1 Reply
              1. re: lawhound
                l
                lawhound Nov 21, 2013 07:03 AM

                I stopped by Cheese Galore a few weeks ago and had an excellent panino (there were 4 or 5, all of them cheese-based), and bought some aged Gouda (also v. good), pecorino romano, and some marcona almonds. The selection is not large -- one medium size display case -- but well-chosen and the owner is knowldgeable and friendly.

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