NEED ADVICE ON WHERE IN TORONTO TO BUY FINE CHEESE?
I CAN HELP
As more and more Torontonians come to discover the delights of pairing different types of wines with different sorts of cheeses, it seems only proper that my fellow citizens are kept informed about which places to shop.
And so, it is with great pleasure that begin to recommend various Toronto cheese shops, which I believe to excell above the rest, both in 'relative' price (fine cheese is very rarely cheap) and quality.
BUYING CHEESE IN TORONTO
Without being overly generous with my praise, I do believe that Toronto is a splendid city for people who are interested in procuring good cheese at relatively fair prices (I say 'relatively' because good cheese is very rarely cheap). And so, I thought listing some Toronto cheese shops on my website might be a good idea.
A NOTE TO CHEESE SHOPS: Assuming I am pleased with what I try (which seems only honest), I would be happy to recommend your establishment on my website in exchange for being permitted to place a small, tasteful, and elegant advertisement of my services in your store(s). Just email me or give me a call for more information!
HERE IS A LIST OF FINE CHEESE STORES IN TORONTO:
Alex Farm Products --- "The Adventure in Cheese" is their motto, and is certainly not unfounded. With four stores throughout Toronto, the shop operators are extremely knowledgeable and courteous, and will be more than happy to give you a tasting sample before you buy. Moreover, their prices, considering the quality and selection of their items, are quite fair. They also offer an excellent baguette, but you have to be their early in the day if you wish to get one before they are all sold out (they usually arrive at the North Toronto store by 11:00 AM). I have used this place many times for private tastings, and I have not once been disappointed. It's best to check their website for store locations --- website: http://www.alexfarmproducts.com/
All The Best Fine Foods --- located just south of the magnificent Summerhill L.C.B.O. outlet at 1101 Yonge St., this place does have a knack for offering their customers excellent food, and their cheeses are no exception. The place can get rather crowded on weekends, so it is best to have an idea of what you want before you go in. A few comments, though: (1) prices are questionable (they cater to the wealthy Rosedale crowd, so they can afford to charge whatever they want); and (2) many of the customers who shop here are, quite simply, selfish snobs (and a few of the people behind the counter can be off-putting). These remarks aside, their cheeses are most certainly second to none, and are worth purchasing (if you have the cash) --- website: http://www.allthebestfinefoods.com/
Cheese Boutique --- located at 45 Ripley Avenue in the west end of Toronto, this is a fun place to buy cheese; selection is extremely impressive, and the staff are very helpful; parking isn't a problem; prices are the way they should be: reasonable; they even have a 'cheese bog' on their website! --- http://www.cheeseboutique.com/
Cheese Emporium --- with two stores in mid-town Toronto (one at 245 Eglinton Avenue East and the other at 1788 Avenue Road), the Cheese Emporium (at least from what I understand) has not been around for an especially long time. And yet, when I went in to buy some cheese a short time ago at the outlet on Avenue Road, I was very much impressed. 'Delicious cheese and solid service' amply sums up my thoughts on the place; parking can be a bit of a hassle (both places are located in extremely busy parts of town), so it is best to plan ahead when making a trip to one of their stores --- http://www.cheeseemporium.ca/
Global Cheese Shop --- located on 76 Kensington Ave. (in the heart of Kensington Market in downtown Toronto), this is a top-notch place to buy cheese. With (supposedly) over 150 varieties, it is easy to see why I opt to award this place such praise. The shop is usually extremely busy, so the staff, quite rightly, are always a little pressed for time. However, they are more than happy to let you taste before buying, and will even offer you on-the-spot discounts for orders, especially cheeses that are already well-ripened. Prices, then, I would say are very good. From what I remember, they do not take credit cards, so bring cash --- NO WEBSITE
Loblaws --- ordinarily, I would not recommend large-scale grocery outlets as acceptable places to purchase good cheese. But Loblaws, to its credit, does have a pretty damn good selection, and prices (though not terrific) are within tolerable limits. However, as you cannot taste the cheese before buying, you must be careful that what you intend to purchase matches your desired 'cheese profile,' especially if you plan on using that cheese in a wine tasting --- website: http://www.loblaws.ca/
Pusateri's --- a 'gourmet institution' of the city of Toronto, Pusateri's is located just north of Avenue Road and Lawrence Ave. (on the east side of the street). For their part, Pusateri's is an exquisite place to shop for fine cheeses. Not only are their prices surprisingly reasonable (considering the grandeur of the store), the selection they offer is amazing, from Quebec artisanal delights to premium Italian favourites. However, because the place is usually extremely busy (and its patrons outstandingly rude), it can be quite an effort to get assistance (and because all the cheeses are wrapped, it is usually not possible to taste before you buy). This being said, if you know what you want, you can be certain that what you buy will be of unquestionable quality --- website: http://www.pusateris.com/
Thornloe Cheese --- located in northern Ontario, this particular company is on the verge of rapid expansion throughout the province, producing cheeses of notable quality. As matters stand, they have yet to establish a shop in Toronto, but this may very well soon change. Their speciality would appear to be high-quality chedders (some aged), which are quite tasty, indeed. The operators of this company are exceptionally agreeable, and it is of my opinion that they are of a good sort with which to conduct business. My compliments. --- website: http://www.thornloecheese.ca/
Whole Foods Market --- luxury supermarket chain with spectacular cheese selections; unlike other large outlets, you can actually taste before you buy, and there are knowledgeable staff to assist you; in downtown Toronto, there is a store located at 87 Avenue Road (however, parking is very expensive and most of its patrons are haughty [to say the least]); though prices are not cheap, this remains an excellent place to procure all sorts of fine cheeses, and I am happy to recommend it --- website: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/