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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cheese Hunt: Bi-Rite Market

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2009 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge biritecheese.jpg
Bi-Rite Market (3639 18th St) packs a lot of things into one not-large store: a great deli, a gourmet food shop, a fine produce stand, an excellent catering service, and, not least of all, one of the best cheese shops in the Bay Area. The limited space (just the five shelves pictured) means the selection is smaller than at specialty shops, but it includes many hard-to-find, top-quality brands.

Most notable of those are the artisanal cheeses from Sonoma County's Andante Dairy. Soyoung Scanlon, the owner-cheesemaker, makes some of the best cheese in the United States. Since she does everything herself, the supply is quite limited, and Bi-Rite is one of only a handful of stores in SF privileged to carry it. The ash-rind Acapalla aged goat (left, below) is tangy, creamy, and could pass for French. The goat-and-cow blend Melange (right, below), when ripe, is runny and profound, like a good Camembert or Reblochon.

click to enlarge biritecheeses.jpg

Not quite as hard to find but just as good are the imports from Neal's

Yard, the cream of British and Irish cheesemaking. Modern industrial

Caerphilly, for example, is a bland, mild cheese, but the traditional, artisanal,

raw-milk version Neal's Yard gets from Gorwydd Farm (center, above) is subtle, earthy, and mushroomy.

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Robert Lauriston


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