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Fat Guy

NYC Cheese Shops

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East Village Cheese

40 Third Ave. (between 9th and 10th Sts.)

(212) 477-2601

Made an inspection of this place yesterday, after being told how great it is by many.

Some excellent prices, including $2.99 a pound for good Cabrales and good Raclette.

The store's policy against giving tastes, however, puts it in the non-serious category in my book.

It occurred to me that we haven't yet comprehesively compared notes on NYC cheese stores. Let's do it now. What are your favorites, and why? In what areas are the different stores particularly strong?

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Let the buyer beware at East Village Cheese. Sometimes there is an all-too-good reason that the prices are so low.

At the other end of the spectrum is Dean & DeLuca, with a very wide variety of cheeses, usually in good condition and a generous tasting policy, for which you pay through the nose.

Garden of Eden on 14th Street, betweeen 5th and 6th, has a good selection, including more Spanish cheeses than you usually see.

Has anyone visited the new branch of Murrary's in Grand Central Terminal?

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Yes, Sandy - I've been several times to the Murray's in GCT. Bought some terrific things each time. Knowledgeable, helpful staff.

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I need to double check the prices at Murray's Grand Central. First time I looked at the place, the price of specific cheeses seemed way higher than one would expect. But it's certainly possible I was mistaken. Nina - it looked fairly priced to you?

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More or less. I didn't do real cheese to cheese comparisons with the downtown Murray's, but the prices didn't strike me as way out of line.

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for cheese its the UWS for me between Zabars and Fairway my bases are covered.

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Yeah...but Murray's in GCT can be very convenient at times. And it's certainly good enough so that you don't have to go look elsewhere when it's more convenient to go to Murray's.

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Joe's Dairy on Sullivan between Houston and Prince. Small family shop. I'm no connoisseur, but in my view, their different flavored yogurt cheeses are fantastic. And they do let you taste.

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bierkraft in brooklyn, if it's convenient, has a superb staff.

otherwise, why would you go anywhere other than murray's? :cool:

but i could've sworn we've had this discussion before. does this sound familiar to anyone? i'll look for the thread.

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toby just reminded me of one discussion we've had in the past, but i did find this other fun one in which people are discussing cheese service in restaurants.

there's a bit of discussion with regards to retail cheese shops. namely a comment from liza about poor/inconsistent experiences at fairway. has anyone been there lately?

i knew i wouldn't be able to do the link-posting thing. sorry, but i'm terrible with these things. but this interesting thread is called "cheese boards", and it was started in august 2001 or something like that.

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My benchmark for pricing cheese is Boucheron. Sometimes I can get it for $11.99 /lb. More often, $12.99 - $17.99.

Any comparisons appreciated.


Edited by Beachfan (log)

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Aside from listing what shops have what range of cheeses available at what price, I'd be interested in the quality of the affinage, if they have a cave and what the reputation of the affineur is.

These are all criteria by which to judge a particular source. An overall rating by these criteria would be the best way to judge. Purely by personal experience, I'd have to say Murray's (Bleecker) followed by Artisanal/D&D. Fairway is good but you never know who has been handling the wares.

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My benchmark for pricing cheese is Boucheron.  Sometimes I can get it for $11.99 /lb.  More often, $12.99 - $17.99.

Any comparisons appreciated.

Gourmet Garage has Bucheron for $7.99 a pound. 90% of this is quite dependable, but on the whole I've felt that GG treats its cheese as it treats many other foodstuff and that's very poorly. Apparently the logs come in okay and are cut and wrapped in plastic wrap. If you get one that appears to be fresh, it's generally going to be okay. Cheeses do get banged up in the case GG has a nasty habit of covering and obliterating original sell by dates and theirs are unreliable. I don't mind saying this in public as I've had this discussion with a manger some time ago and he defended the practice. My guess is that the Bucheron moves quickly. Many other cheeses suffocate in their wrappings and there are few I can trust when they have to be bought ice cold. Stefany, I would not use the word "affinage" in regard to this shop, where there are few bargains, but Bucheron is one of them.

On the whole I much prefer to buy Bucheron at DiPalo's where it's cut from the log for me and they will offer a taste. Furthermore the price is not much different. DiPalo's does not carry many French cheeses. Unfortunately GG is much closer than DiPalo's and my wife would go no further for cheese today, so I have the price of GG at hand.

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Bucheron is $6.99 a pound from FreshDirect.com

FreshDirect is a good benchmark because you can easily sort and price cheeses by region, style, etc. They make it very easy to access the information and they're very competitive.

Cheese prices in New York tend to be a hell of a lot lower than in California, in my experience, Beachfan. It's one of the few food products you can get cheaper here than almost anywhere else in America.

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Under $10 a lb. is great.

Not all bucherons are created equal, nor as StefanyB pointed out, are they kept and sold under equal conditions.

Does FreshDirect.com offer tastes. :biggrin:

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Does anyone know how the wholesale cheese market is structured in New York? How many wholesalers and how specialized? While I get the impression 95% are coming from the same importers, clearly there are some special situations like DiPalo's red cow Parmesan that few, if any, other stores sell. Of course the number of cheeses in New York cheese and "gourmet" shops is overwhelming. In the best cheese shops in France you never see nearly that number. I don't think the famous Ceneri in Cannes offers more than 75 or so at one time. The large number available here is a function of shelf life or fragility, given the large number of pasteurized and long-aged cheeses. As far as I can tell, the main dependent variable is judicious buying of inventory and the willingness to throw out cheese that has gone bad. By not letting you taste or wrapping the cheese in multi-layers of Saran Wrap, such factors really stack the deck against the consumer. I rarely buy cheese in New York of late, but when I did fairly often (not so long ago), no matter where you went it was the luck of the draw if the cheese you hoped to buy had not been sitting around a long time (even in the basement) or had just arrived. It was like walking through a minefield. Were I compelled to make a diverse selection for a dinner party and wanted to go to one store only, I would probably go to Artisinal or Murray's. (Did Steve Jenkins leave Fairway? I would go there if he hasn't; but I recall that he did). When I do buy cheese every few weeks, I only go to DiPalo's because I know that I will come home with great Parmesan and home made ricotta and mozzarella. If I want to add something else, I taste whatever I want there so that I slowly add additional Italian cheeses to my purchasing arsenal, even though they have a relatively small variety.

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Murrays' and Dipalos',that's it....

i have to agree all my cheese is bought at murry's. They have had such a great selection and i think the prices are more then fare. My restaurant gets all our cheeses from them and to my knowledge have never had a problem. They have even had the only bluecheese i will eat, Blue de termignon. Do you know how hard it is to come by that stuff? Besides the ryland inn its the only place i have ever been able to get it, and i have asked everywhere. I don't know much about dipalos.

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Which stores keep stashes of bootleg and unpasteurized stuff for the serious cheese-eater? THAT'S the benchmark.

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Tony, in my experience it's not usually a question of a stash. They do this out in the open for the most part. The authorities are somewhat attuned to the big-name French no-no cheeses (Brie, Camembert, and Epoisses) because the witless inspectors learned in one of their little enforcement classes that "lait cru" plus "younger than 60 days" means you stop the cheese at the border, but they're sloppy about that and they have absolutely no clue how to identify a young raw milk cheese from any other country. It's a lot easier to find raw milk cheeses in New York than, say, Cuban cigars -- and Cuban cigars are pretty damn easy to find.

Bux, FreshDirect doesn't offer tastes but does offer a 100% satisfaction no-questions-asked guarantee.

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If you're interested in locally produced raw stuff, you can try some AND interrogate the cheesemakers (Mark Gillman and Elizabeth MacAlister) by purchasing from Cato Corner Farms at Union Square greenmarket on Wednesdays and Saturdays; also sold by Tyrone at the Tribeca Farmer's market on Saturdays and given away gratis every Saturday at 4pm at the Chambers Street Wines wine tastings.

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Steven, I never saw "Younger than 60 Days" written on a cheese label. But were you saying that it's French cheeses only that get stopped as opposed to young raw milk Italian? Furthermore, how would you know? I think Tony's scenario takes place among the real specialists. Or are you saying that the raw-milk, under 60 day stuff is put out with the legal cheese? If so, where?

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If you're interested in locally produced raw stuff, you can try some AND interrogate the cheesemakers (Mark Gillman and Elizabeth MacAlister) by purchasing from Cato Corner Farms at Union Square greenmarket on Wednesdays and Saturdays; also sold by Tyrone at the Tribeca Farmer's market on Saturdays and given away gratis every Saturday at 4pm at the Chambers Street Wines wine tastings.

Cato Corner cheeses are also sold at Bierkraft - 5th Avenue near Berkeley, in Park Slope.

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Steven, I never saw "Younger than 60 Days" written on a cheese label. But were you saying that it's French cheeses only that get stopped as opposed to young raw milk Italian? Furthermore, how would you know? I think Tony's scenario takes place among the real specialists. Or are you saying that the raw-milk, under 60 day stuff is put out with the legal cheese? If so, where?

I've walked in a certain cheese shop in the West Village and they've offered me both "special" cheese and meats without me asking about them. And I'm not a regular. I don't know if it was on the board or displayed, but they weren't shy about telling me about it.

edit: for anonymity's sake


Edited by bpearis (log)

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