When the Lion needed a heart and his buddy the Tin Man wanted a brain, they went to see The Wizard. If it’s Raclette, Stilton, or mozzarella di bufala I crave then it’s off to the Westside Market I go for a visit to The Cheese Shop (stands H-8 & H-9). Proprietor Dion Tsevdos is my personal wiz for granting curdish wishes.
The selection features about 150 varieties of imported and domestic artisan and farmstead products. I always find what I want and a few things that are totally new to me. Among the more incredible things he’s introduced me to are a roasted ricotta salata from Italy; cave aged Gruyere; an over the top Pierre Robert triple cream brie (Dion says it’s the “cadillac of brie”); blue Costello brie from Denmark; a Portugese chevre spiked with tarragon and peppercorns that just explodes on the tongue; a velevty four year old sharp cheddar from Quebec; and a semi-firm sheep’s milk Petit Basque Istara. I could go on. And on.
Even if you’ve never shopped here you may have eaten the stuff he’s sourcing because he supplies many of the area’s top restaurants. He gets great deals as a wholesaler and passes the savings along to his retail customers. I took a friend in from San Francisco, food writing coach and blogger Dianne Jacob to his stand and she couldn’t believe how reasonable the prices were compared to what she pays.
You haven’t really lived until you’ve had a wedge of Mimolette (a fruity/nutty tasting ripened Edam) with quince or plum paste, or a smear of Humboldt Fog drizzled wih honey. The Cheese Shop shelves are stocked with these accompaniments and all kinds of other essential go-withs like specialty crackers, mustards, jams and jellies, including some wonderful locally made products from Deanna Ferry’s Garden Vineyard Grove label.
Writing about all this goodness has my mouth watering and I’m visioning olives, sliced farm fresh tomatoes, a crusty baguette, and a cheese board for tonight’s main course. So… I’m off to see the wizard.