San Francisco Cheese Shop: 24th Street Cheese Co.
October 22, 2010
The first time we entered 24th Street Cheese Co., my son asked for a “good” cheese. The cheesemonger’s response: “We have 200 good cheeses.” That’s a big inventory of cheese, but if one wants to discover that wealth, one must engage with the gatekeeping staff.
24th Street Cheese is a destination for cut-to-order cheeses. Their inventory has cheeses from Europe and the US, but seems more European focused.
Their cheese is mostly tucked away out of view. Their inventory is listed by name on a high chalkboard, but this list is not always complete and it is helpful only if one knows or has heard of the cheeses listed. The lack of display, however, reinforces the need to work with the shop’s staff.
Shoppers must be willing to engage with staff to narrow options. Staff listen and do there best to meet a shopper’s criteria. We usually shop with a loose criteria of “no blue or hard cheeses,” but this is still too broad. Lately, I have been asking to try whatever is good “right now,” and this has yielded nice recommendations.
We have had uneven shopping experiences at 24th Street Cheese. We have been introduced to some lovely cheeses here. However, we have also purchased cheeses that may have been too young or are past their peak (I don’t discover this until I start writing about a cheese post-evaluation).
We ask a lot of specific questions when cheese shopping. I used to get frustrated about the inaccurate information at 24th Street Cheese. Now I realize that it is difficult–maybe impossible–to retain minutia on every cheese in their inventory. Perhaps there is an inverse relationship between inventory size and inventory knowledge.
24th Street Cheese is like a library with an inventory of hidden gems that one may overlook without staff help. One should view the shop’s cheesemongers like librarians–they are available to help guide one to an interesting selection or they can locate the exact cheese desired.
We keep shopping at 24th Street Cheese so we can tap into their expansive inventory. I wish our shopping experiences were more even, yet I am willing to sacrifice the shopping experience for good cheese.