The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills
This is one of several posts from my three trips to the US during the months of June and July 2016. For the rest, follow this link.
I used to travel a lot for my previous job. It wasn’t uncommon for me to be on the road two times a month. But when I changed companies back in August 2015, I almost entirely stopped traveling. Through May of this year I had traveled only twice over nine months. That was until this month (June) when, through a combination of unrelated work and life events, I realized I’d be making three trips back and forth to the US in as many weeks! (As a matter of fact, I’m writing this post on the plane on leg five of six over the Atlantic.)
I set two goals for these three long-haul trips. The first was to make sure I didn’t completely burn out. The second was to eat some good cheese despite deep skepticism that I’d be able to find any. For this first trip, I’m happy to report I succeeded!
Trip #1 arose from the need to train three new hires. With people on both coasts and Trip #2 being in Atlanta, we decided to bring everyone to Los Angeles to minimize long trips—well, minimize them for everyone but me at least!
With very little digging and the help of my colleague, Astrid, who not only lives in LA, but as I discovered also enjoys cheese, I found the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. A quick look at the website convinced me these were serious people. I saw all sorts of cheeses that are rarely seen in the US, even in high-end markets like Whole Foods. Moreover, I was seeing raw milk and cheeses marked with the designation appellation d’origine protégée. Cheeses carrying this designation must, regardless of country (AOP or PDO is a European designation), me made according to very strict guidelines. If they’re not, they can’t legally use the name of the cheese.
I had hoped to be able to get to the shop early in my visit to be able to share some cheese with our whole team but the timing didn’t work out. We could only stop by on our way to the airport, which was even more disappointing since I was sure I wasn’t going to get to try much of anything! Again, happily and unexpectedly, I was wrong.
I was amazed when we got to the store. Here was something very familiar. I walked down the long row of cheeses organized by milk source and region, most of which were not sitting in a puddle of their own condensate wrapped in plastic in an overchilled cold case, but out on the counter. An AOP Livarot from the venerable house of Graindorge? A raw milk tomme de Savoie fermière (made and aged that farm whose cows produced the milk)? Beautiful sheep’s cheeses like the Abbaye de Belloc from the South of France near the Spanish border? Little hunks of very good Camembert (pasteurized even!) I can taste sitting out on the counter? You’re kidding, right?!
I felt like I was interrogating Tony at first, but I quickly realized he was as interested to talk about their cheeses as I was to listen. We really hit it off. I enjoyed myself so much that I completely neglected to write down everything we tasted and I swear we tasted half the cheeses in the store!
Astrid left the shop with five (!) cheeses: the three I mentioned above, plus the gorgeous Schnebelhorn, a gruyère-like Swiss cheese with little crystals and the earthy taste of high-altitude pastures, and the mild blue Saint-Agur, one of her favorites. I left having met another person who shares a passion for eating and talking about cheese who works for a great shop, one that far exceeded my expectations.
The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills is as real as it gets given the distance between it and the places where their cheeses are made, and they do an admirable job introducing the largely ignorant (I mean this literally, not pejoratively!) American public to the wonders of well-made cheese.
The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, 419 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210