Susan Axelrod | June 9, 2023 This article is from: Summer 2023 (Hot List)
Cheesemaking is steeped in tradition, some of which extends back thousands of years. These ancient ways and the dedicated people who keep them alive are worth venerating, while at the same time it’s exciting to watch those blazing cheese trails in new directions. The following stories spotlight nine trailblazers whose contributions to the wide world of cheese are already impressive, and we can’t wait to see what they do next.
There are several ways to determine what makes an iconic cheese shop worth a visit. And as with many things in food and wine, there aren’t simple answers. But, some guidelines can help you find the best cheese shop for your needs.
Cheese educator David Asher believes how a shop engages with its community is paramount. “A great cheese shop makes connections between the cheese producers and consumers, and tries to form a relationship between them,” he says.
This connection is part of a larger cultural shift to understand where and how our foods are made. “Cheese stores can act as a liaison between good farmers producing good cheese and their consumers,” he adds.
Additionally, cheese scholar Carlos Yescas says the difference between a good and a great cheese shop often comes down to what’s for sale and how it’s being sold. A retailer worth its salt will seek out products from cheesemakers that share its values. This could mean supporting independent local producers, sourcing rare international labels and hiring and training staff to become cheese experts. In doing so, these shops become community hubs of cheese exploration.
You’ll know a good cheesemonger when you meet them because they’ll be excited to talk to you about their products and to cut samples for you to taste, says Christine Clark, a writer and cheese educator.
Willingness to give samples is key, she adds. One person’s cheese preference may be different than another’s. Plus, cheese is a living product and can taste different each time you try it. “Whereas wine has vintages by year, in cheese, each day can be like a new vintage,” Clark says.
Host Eric Adjepong introduces three skilled chefs from California, Texas, and North Carolina to take on one of America’s favorite ingredients: cheese! The chefs strategize what ingredients to use to take a shot at knocking Chef Alex Guarnaschelli out of the top spot and test their abilities. Judges Michael Voltaggio and Leah Park Fierro’s decision will lead to one of the most unexpected winner announcements yet.
Leah, owner at Milkfarm makes a guest appearance on this episode.
Things get cheesy when Adam Richman visits a central Pennsylvanian cheese maker with an award-winning mozzarella they insist on making the authentic Italian way. And you don’t have to tell grocery giant Kroger that cheese is big business–we see how they slice, shred and package over 2.5-million lbs. of cheese per week. Adam learns all the history, incredible facts, and amazing processes behind one of America’s most beloved foods!
“Are you planning a wine and cheese pairing party? It’s always been a favorite event of mine to host because you can feel sophisticated and buzzed all at once. I recently tasted something that pairs even better than wine with cheese. Curious? I’m spilling the rice and beans below on how you can host a serious pairing party of your own.”
Eagle Rock is sleepier compared to nearby Highland Park, Glendale, and Pasadena, but this family-oriented neighborhood in Northeast LA still has a lot going on. It’s quiet, hilly, and lush, with a counterculture that dates back nearly a century. It’s also where you’ll find the largest Filipino-American population in LA, President Obama’s alma mater Occidental College, and a rock with an indentation that sort of looks like an actual Eagle. We love a straightforward name and we also love eating great food. Here are 12 spots to do just that when you’re in the area.
It’s possible you’ll catch a waft of cheese from the street, and accidentally end up spending 45 minutes inside Milk Farm. This cheese shop has a massive array of both American and European cheeses (there’s a map on the wall with pins marking where each producer is from) and charcuterie, plus a tiny fridge filled with a curated list of wine, beer, and cider. It’s a great place to stop if you need a last-minute gift or want to build a platter for the picnic you’re already late for. If you’re strolling in hungry for lunch though, go for their excellent pre-made sandwiches. The menu changes daily, but one thing you can always count on seeing is the signature grilled cheese with three different American cheeses, leeks, shallots, onions, and butter. It’s an absolute must-order.
Much like developing late-onset lactose intolerance, no one gets to choose the moment they fall in love with cheese. Maybe you caught the bug after biting into a greasy, piping-hot pizza as a kid at Chuck E. Cheese, amidst all of the questionably sanitized ball pits and horrifying life-like animatronics. Perhaps you imprinted on Wallace and Gromit at an early age and became increasingly obsessed every time they uttered the beloved C-word? Or, maybe, you just like cheese because, you know, it’s cheese…
Whatever your reason for brie-lieving is (we promise that’s our last dairy pun), if you’re looking for some of the best cheeses in the city, plus some excellent cured meats to go along with it, here are ten great spots for cheese and charcuterie across LA.
Oh! And we even found you a little ten-hour cheese playlist to listen to. We may have spent too much time procrastinating on Youtube before writing this guide. Sorry.
Stocked with hundreds of award-winning cheeses from around the world, plus cases full of salumi, porchetta, pesto, and pasta, walking into this tiny Eagle Rock storefront is like entering a new, better world – one where the possibilities are endless and everyone suddenly knows the exact melting point of raclette. Overwhelmed by the amount of choices? Don’t know the difference between a semi-soft and soft-ripened cheese, or whether or not you like unpasteurized dairy? Worry not, their expert staff of cheesemongers is there to patiently help you make sense of their expansive selection. Make sure to grab a sandwich or two before heading out.