Cheese: Cambridge: Formaggio Kitchen

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Dude. Cheese. Mad cheese. More cheese than you can shake a stick at. (Not that you’d want to in this place because you’d definitely knock over one – maybe two – hundred things.) With a little perseverance, you can get your very own salesperson who will offer samples of anything you want to try and point you in the right direction. Ask about local offerings and cheeses that might be hard – or impossible – to get elsewhere.

We – well, I – went just a tad overboard, buying five cheeses for four people, but we were not disappointed. I grabbed onto a small round of Chaource, which is hard to find in good condition in San Francisco, half a round of Coulommiers (too much: get a quarter round for your average cheese plate), a Manchester hard cheese that had a nutty bandaged cheddar flavor, a Belgian blue (medium strong as blues go) and a lovely creamy Italian goat cheese (Robiola Pura Capra Carlina) that had just enough flavor to hold its own next to the Coloummiers. (Do you think “Carlina” is the name of the actual goat?)

Ihsan and Valerie Gurdal own the place – and sister stores in the South End of Boston and in Essex Market in New York – and stock it with excellent gourmet goods of all types. You can snag the baguette you’ll be wanting (as well as other kinds of breads) at their bakery counter, any condiment from anywhere in the world (try the chili and red pepper jams with your soft cheeses), goodies from their pastry counter (their small meringues with their chewy insides are the best I’ve ever had), wines from anywhere in the world, all manner of olive oils, pâté, crackers, honies and on and on and on.

As with Whole Foods, I wouldn’t recommend doing your general shopping here. It will definitely cost you to score the perfect picnic dinner – that chili jam runs $11 – but it’s worth it for an occasional anti-recession splurge or a mini splurge if you’re after a specific product (or just want to try something new). Also, don’t even think about going at peak times – the place is a zoo. Go on a weekday afternoon or first thing on the weekend when you can get some of their stellar service, enjoy some samples and generally rummage among the goods.

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Categories: Eat, Wishlist

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