Bedford Cheese Shop
This spacious, inviting offshoot of the Brooklyn shop of the same name has a range of mainly European cheeses. Recently fine were Cabra Raiano, a full, milky goat from Portugal, and Chällerhocker from Switzerland, which was like an earthy, nutty, complex Gruyère.
67 Irving Place between 18th and 19th Street, +1 718 599 7588; www.bedfordcheeseshop.com
Among the stalls of the Essex Market on the Lower East Side, this miniature shop, like its mother store in Cambridge, Mass. is strong on European cheeses such as farm-made Veenweidekaas from Holland, Blu di Lanza from Piedmont and, always, fine aged French Comté.
120 Essex Street, inside the Essex Market, +1 212 982 8200; www.formaggioessex.com
Ideal Cheese Shop
Not many US shops greet you with a distinctly delicious smell of cheese the way Ideal does. The bright, clean space holds a large selection, including some cheeses that are set out and, if you’re offered a sample, are warm enough to really taste. Recent good choices were a French goat La Bande d’Antan from Poitou and Blu del Moncenisio from Piedmont in Italy.
942 First Avenue at 52nd Street, +1 888 807 6184; www.idealcheese.com
This Greenwich Village resource (which has a branch in Grand Central Station), with its busy modern interior, has a long counter filled with cheeses. The staff offers plenty of tastes and seems very much to want to please. Recently delicious were an aged Ossau-Iraty from the French Pyrénées and a dense, butterscotchy three-year-old Roomano from the Netherlands.
254 Bleecker Street between 6th & 7th Avenue, +1 888 692 4339; www.murrayscheese.com
The mere six-foot-long counter of Anne Saxelby provides a honed selection of all-American farm-made cheeses, especially from the northeast. Excellent, from Vermont, were raw cow’s-milk Coomersdale from Bonnieview Farm; scarce, naturally blued Blue Goat from Twig Farm, and Sweet Emotions, a goat’s milk plus cow cream cheese from Lazy Lady Farm. From New York, there were a dense, creamy goat’s milk Cayuga Blue from Lively Run Goat Dairy in the Finger Lakes, and fresh goat “Clover” and “Cinder” from Arattom Dairy in Westchester County.
120 Essex Street, inside the Essex Market, +1 212 228 8204; www.saxelbycheese.com
Edward Behr is editor of ‘The Art of Eating’. See ‘Hard Craft’