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DonRocks

Upscale Supermarkets and Cheese Abuse

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Stew Leonard's :wub:

Been out of Norwalk, CT (my hometown) for a while. Miss that place! Great in-house bakery, and they even package their milk in the store, or at least they used to. That was always fun to watch going there as a kid! The layout has only gotten more convoluted over the years.


Edited by Chef Shogun (log)

Matt Robinson

Prep for dinner service, prep for life! A Blog

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Stew Leonard's  :wub:

Been out of Norwalk, CT (my hometown) for a while. Miss that place!  Great in-house bakery, and they even package their milk in the store, or at least they used to.  That was always fun to watch going there as a kid!  The layout has only gotten more convoluted over the years.

Stew Leonard's is now a chain.

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I KNOW!! They went from the origonal two to THREE! :shock:

(Plus Japan in the future, If My Memory Serves Me Correctly)

Edit for: Alright, Norwalk in 1969, Danbury in 1991, and Yonkers, NY at some presumably recent point they don't mention on their site.


Edited by Chef Shogun (log)

Matt Robinson

Prep for dinner service, prep for life! A Blog

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The result is that I I had been most everywhere from Schweigmann's (sp) in New Orleans to Hanneford in Portland to Larry's to Wegmans to Stew Leonard's.

Hanneford in Portland? Oregon or Maine? I lived my first 19 years in Portland, Ore. and I don't recognize the name. Maybe I'm having a brain fart or perhaps it's just that I wasn't as much of a foodie at 19 (that's about 14 years ago, BTW) or maybe it's in Maine? I tried to google Hanneford, Grocery, Portland and didn't get anything. If I was after good cheese in Portland, I might go to Zupan's or Strohecker's or Elephant's (though I'd probably ask my parents who are foodies and actually live there).

I seem to recall going to a Hanneford in Albany, NY, which was not incredible but possibly a step up from the Price Chopper, one of the other big chains up there.


"If we aren't supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?"

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The result is that I I had been most everywhere from Schweigmann's (sp) in New Orleans to Hanneford in Portland to Larry's to Wegmans to Stew Leonard's.

Hanneford in Portland? Oregon or Maine? I lived my first 19 years in Portland, Ore. and I don't recognize the name. Maybe I'm having a brain fart or perhaps it's just that I wasn't as much of a foodie at 19 (that's about 14 years ago, BTW) or maybe it's in Maine? I tried to google Hanneford, Grocery, Portland and didn't get anything. If I was after good cheese in Portland, I might go to Zupan's or Strohecker's or Elephant's (though I'd probably ask my parents who are foodies and actually live there).

I seem to recall going to a Hanneford in Albany, NY, which was not incredible but possibly a step up from the Price Chopper, one of the other big chains up there.

Hanneford is a New England chain that has an approximate 60,000 square foot flagship store about two or three miles from Old Port. By 1990 standards it was a big deal. Today it leaves much to be desired. Still, Portland does not have much of a reference point for comparison.

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Hi,

I thought I might make a few of you just a little jealous. I fly to Paris every week with work at AA. I always bring a little cooler with me. Then I hit the fromageries! Sometimes I just go to Auchon or Monoprix (cheeses still sooo much better than anything here!). I bring back my favorites usually an Epoisse,  chevre en robe, Brie de Mieux, roquefort for my hub. The cheeses stay fine on the flight over. I keep them in the cooler in the refrigerated compartments on the plane. One of the great perks of my job!

I have heard of and used diplomatic couriers in my line of work. But you are a cheese courier... and a trailblaizer in this regard. Now much for an Epoisse for me?????


"Whenever someone asks me if I want water with my Scotch, I say, 'I'm thirsty, not dirty' ". Joe E. Lewis

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I'm really surprised at all of these problems with Whole Foods cheese.  I've been buying almost weekly from their Vienna store since it opened four or five years ago and can count on one hand the number of times I've been disappointed. 

Joe -- as you mentioned, each Fresh Fields is slightly different from the others. I guess you are just plain lucky with Vienna (i.e., good staff and management). Now that i know, I'll make the effort to go out there.


"Whenever someone asks me if I want water with my Scotch, I say, 'I'm thirsty, not dirty' ". Joe E. Lewis

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My husband recently brought back Reblochon from La Fromagerie in London. It was perfect and we wanted more. We were told by the cheese stores here in Chicago that Reblochon was not available. Something about a crackdown of cheeses aged less than 60 days. We were told that Reblochon is aged 55 days.

- kim

isn't that illegal?? :biggrin:

but yeah. . if i remember correctly, govt. won't allow the sale of cheese that is aged less than 60 days, unless it's been pasteurized, or something like that.

Age has nothing to do with it -- cheeses can still be imported and aged/finish aging here...

Working a lot with U.S. Customs on the import and export of some really deadly materials (not for the PC hordes), allow me to explain a little about food.... Almost all food (save for certain fruits and vegetables from certain countries due to pesticide applications) can be be brought into the U.S. provided the manufacturer and/or exporter's facility in the country of origin is vetted by USDA inspectors and/or customs. For example, curers and distributors of proscuitto di Parma in Italy are certified by our guys to export to the U.S. (they have had their production process and storage/handling facilities inspected). U.S. auhorities will inspect businesses that import food but obviously have not the time or resources to deal with every carrying individual on their way home from vacation or a business trip. Of course anything "cooked" or processed like smoked salmon and pasturized cheese (yes pasteurization is a process) can be brought in by indivuals.


"Whenever someone asks me if I want water with my Scotch, I say, 'I'm thirsty, not dirty' ". Joe E. Lewis

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I asked for castelmagno at the Glover Park branch and the counterperson looked at me like I had two heads. 

Cheesetique has this wonderful cheese listed on its web site so I may have to make the trek.

Call ahead as they do not always have everything in stock. Although it would not be a wasted trip as I am sure you will find many other items to purchase. :raz:

SAD NEWS ABOUT CASTELMAGNO...

Alas, my expected piece will not be arriving after all. Such is the way with rare cheeses. I'll keep trying and will keep you posted...

Jill

CASTELMAGNO is back! Just arrived today (Friday) and man is it beauteous! For those of you who haven't tried this one, feel free to pop on by the shop...


Jill Erber, Cheese Lady

Cheesetique Specialty Cheese Shop

Alexandria, VA

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Le Calandre is a three Michelin star restaurant in the suburbs of Padua. They have a deli which sells some of the same cheese they feature on their cheesecart. When we were last there in December my wife and I purchased a kilo of a Barolo flavored cheese (I believe from the area near Alba) which was intensely flavored and incredibly delicious. It was a semi hard cheese that I tried to find when I returned to the U. S. but have not found anything even remotely similar to this. I've had other cheeses which are flavored with wine but nothing like this. (Dean and Deluca, Wegman's, Whole Foods) The flavor was particularly intense, perhaps "strong" might even be an appropriate word to describe it.

Is anything like this available in the U. S.? Even on special order?

This is Le Calandre's website:

http://www.calandre.com/calandre.asp?bil=|||ing

If you believe there might be a possibility of importing this into the U. S. I would be happy to contact them directly and ask for their supplier. Or, if you would prefer to do this. (They speak perfect English.) I should note that many of their suppliers are artisinal and very small. Locally, Fabio at Maestro imports his arborio from Calandre's Alban violane nano source. It would seem that if this particular cheese could be imported the source could be invaluable (for lack of a better word). I cannot tell you how intensely delicious it is. There is nothing I have found in several months of looking here that even begins to approach it.


Edited by Joe H (log)

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On Tuesday, my husband called from London to tell me he had just picked up some Telaggio from La Fromagerie. He asked me to pick up more Telaggio from Whole Foods and Fox & Obel so we could do a taste comparison...

On Thursday, I picked up Telaggio from Whole Foods. On sale. $12.99/pound. (I just rooted through the garbage to find the name of the producer. What, am I crazy?). Vero Cademartori. I brought it home, took it out of the plastic, rewrapped it in paper and set in on the counter.

On Friday (4 hours before my husband arrived), I picked up Telaggio from Fox & Obel. Also $12.99/pound. La Baita. I brought it home, took it out of the plastic, and let it breath.

I can assure you that the cheese my husband brought back was not treated as nicely.

We unwrapped the three cheeses. (I really must find the batteries and recharger for my camera.) And placed them on a platter. With thin slices of baguette. Chilled white wine. Slices of serrano ham. And wondered how the cheeses would compare.

The visuals?

The cheese from La Fromagerie was a powdery white clean milky color. The rind was a healthy blushing orange. The mold on top looked alive and part of the cheese. The word that comes to mind is vibrant. Living. Healthy.

The cheeses from Whole Foods and Fox & Obel looked very similar. After I painfully peeled off the paper which seemed to have grown into the rind. The cheese was a slightly yellow plastic color. The rind was a dead orangey yellow color. The mold looked like it shouldn't be there.

The smell?

The cheese from La Fromagerie made me think of standing in a forest smelling the musty earth.

The cheese from Whole Foods made me think of standing behind a screen door trying to smell the forest and getting a faint whiff.

The cheese from Fox & Obel made me think of standing behind a glass door looking at the forest and wondering if I could smell it and thinking that I probably could.

The taste and texture?

Oh. Oh. Oh. Why don't we live in London? We could. I'm sure of it. Creamy. Milky. Earthy. Perfection. I could easily have eaten it all by myself without even trying the other two. Or the baguette. Or the wine (a soave classico from Fox & Obel). But then I wouldn't be able to properly savor the moment. And I don't know when I'll get my next Telaggio fix from La Fromagerie.

The cheese from Whole Foods was better than Fox & Obel. Could be because it had time to warm up and open up? But it still had a plasticky texture that wanted to stick to my teeth rather than stay on my tongue. If I hadn't had the cheese from La Fromagerie, I would have liked it.

The cheese from Fox & Obel reminded us all too much of Velveeta. It had that texture and the taste was somewhat similar. And it was just all wrong. And I wanted to like it because I like Fox & Obel. Their cheese person loves cheese. I told her I would report back. And now I would rather not since the results were so awful. I wanted to save her a piece of the La Fromagerie cheese but that was impossible. I'll just have to see if she can give us a piece of cheese that has not been sitting in plastic to see if there's any hope.

As I said, we ate all of the cheese from La Fromagerie. Cursing the entire time because we wished we didn't know just how good cheese should and could be but sadly isn't. Then we would take another bite of the other two cheeses and feel happy. Because we knew the next bite would be the La Fromagerie cheese. And then we would get sad again.

I hate it when my husband goes to London without me. But, he does bring back cheese. So, I do have that to look forward to. And sometimes I get to join him. His last trip he brought back Caprino Sardo Del Gerrei (so says the receipt). A cheese that literally poured it was so gooey. If we ever move to London, I would want to live in the basement of La Fromagerie.

- kim

edit: Cheese was NOT Caprino Sardo Del Gerrei. Cheese was:

141 VAL DE LOUBIERES (RESINEUX DE LOUBIERES) ARIEGE

Washed and brushed crust encircled with bark collar from local pine trees, this is a very rich and creamy cheese with a sweetly sappy taste rather like a Vacherin Mont d'Or. Best season May to September. (Approx weight 400g. 48% fat)


Edited by Kim D (log)

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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On Tuesday, my husband called from London to tell me he had just picked up some Telaggio from La Fromagerie. He asked me to pick up more Telaggio from Whole Foods and Fox & Obel so we could do a taste comparison...

Great report!

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Thank you!

I wish I would have had time to get to Pastoral and Binny's to see if they had Telaggio. I want to find a good cheese source here in Chicago.

I do wonder why this thread isn't in General Food Topics but, then again, it's nice to explore a new area of eGullet.

- kim


If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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It's been a very long time since I've been to "Cheese Stands Alone". At the time there was not a very big selection. And for some reason I seem to have this memory of seeing cheeses in the same plastic that supermarket cheeses are packaged. And that made me think that the quality of their cheeses was supermarket quality. But, if you are recommending them, I'll give them another try. And I would be very happy to find that my memory was incorrect.

- kim


If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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After reading the cheese issue of Saveur, I wanted to give Laura Chenel's goat cheese a try. I don't know if anyone's looking for it, but today I found several types (plain, pepper, herbed, etc) at Marvelous Market (the one downtown). Beware, though, as a few were past the printed expiration date. I'll let you know how it is if you're interested!

Also had some great cheeses from P St. Whole Foods - Parlick (hard-ish sheep's milk cheese with green wax); Pipe Dreams aged goat log w/veg ash; Coach Farms goat log (also aged, but with a white rind); Piave; and they finally brought back Cypress Grove Purple Haze after many many requests. All looked, smelled and tasted good.

Also, the one guy who was always very friendly (he was the only one who remembered me although i'm there every week, and he always recommended cheeses based on what he knew I liked) is gone, but apparently he's moved to the Gtown location. I think his name is Robert, & he's young (late 20's , maybe?) with dark black hair. H'es very knowledgeable about cheese and is actually NICE. imagine that. So if you shop there, look for him, he'll help you. But know i'm on my own again at P St.

EDIT: oops, I have since seen Laura Chenel chevre at Whole Foods P St. maybe its not as uncommon as i thought...


Edited by LittleWing (log)

Eat.Drink.DC.

...dining in the district...

Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch.

- Orson Welles

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I was in my local Fresh Market (an upscale grocery store) this weekend, and one of the items on my shopping list was Locatelli Romano cheese. They had a couple of huge wheels of it on display at their cheese counter, and lots of smaller wedges for sale.

The little wedges (as well as the whole and quarter-wheels) were all shrink wrapped. The small wedges all had pools of oil inside the wrapping, presumably where the cheese had "weeped". We asked the lady at the cheese counter if she could cut us a slice off of one of the larger wheels, but to no avail -- she told us that all aged cheese was shrink-wrapped like that (huh?), and it was supposed to be (double huh?), and that the puddle of grease in the packaging was "normal" (triple huh?).

My wife and I tried for a minute to explain to her that it wasn't right, and the cheese needs to be able to breathe a little bit, but to no avail. The counter-lady then informed us that the cheese comes directly from Italy shrink-wrapped like that.

I'm finding all this hard to believe. Why would a supposedly gourmet grocery chain mistreat a tasty cheese so badly?


Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

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Most stores mistreat their cheese, gourmet groceries are no exception. If you are lucky, you'll find a cheese shop with a clue.

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On the issue of shrink-wrapping cheese, I agree with you. Shrink wrapping involves heating plastic which, besides heating the cheese (and causing it to "weep") will also impart a synthetic taste to the cheese (just think of all those volatile gasses that didn't make their way to the "outside" of the shrinking and wrapping. Blech...

In general, the longer a cheese is aged, the more moisture comes out of it, and the less sensitive it will be to being wrapped in plastic wrap (versus wax paper or aluminum foil, for example); i.e., it won't "suffocate" the way a fresh milk cheese will. The biggest enemy of cheese is lack of humidity - and a piece of lacatelli will quickly dry out in your fridge if you did let it breathe. So I handle aged, hard cheeses by wrapping them in plastic wrap, but for any fresh cheeses (brie, fresh goat's milk cheese), I would wrap them in wax paper. Roquefort, or other like-minded sweaty cheeses, I wrap in aluminum foil.

Finally, on the point that gourmet grocers should know this, I think you learned what's generally true - they don't have any more of a clue than other [regular] grocers. They just purchase higher-end product and charge you more for it. You can imagine that they are making a nice margin by shrink wrapping cheese and letting it sit on the shelf for longer (and less labor) than if they had to actually man a counter and actively manage an inventory-

In general, I would suggest that you always go to a specialty cheese shop/cheesemonger. My only exception to that is if your specialty shop also shrink wraps cheese. Then, move to another town...or France...

www.tasteecheese.com


________________

Stu Fisher - Owner

Tastee Cheese

www.tasteecheese.com

stu@tasteecheese.com

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Another subpar piece of Humboldt Fog from Whole Foods.  Why do I even bother?  :angry:

Because Cheesetique is far?

I feel for you. :sad:

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Another subpar piece of Humboldt Fog from Whole Foods.  Why do I even bother?  :angry:

Because Cheesetique is far?

I feel for you. :sad:

The taste of poorly kept cheese almost makes the 45 minute drive more appealing. :hmmm:


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Another subpar piece of Humboldt Fog from Whole Foods.  Why do I even bother?  :angry:

Which store do you go to, if you don't mind my asking. To be open, I work for WFM.

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