Friday, April 21, 2006

Valley Girl Part 2: Cutting the Cheese in Studio City

In addition to being the strip mall mecca of sublime sushi, Ventura Blvd has also satisfied another of my food loves.

Unlike other areas of life where there’s good cheesy (John Hughes flicks, 80’s song sensations Careless Whisper & 99 Luft Balloons), bad cheesy (pick up lines, men driving yellow ferrari’s) and beyond redemption cheesy (The Hoff's music video) when it comes to actual cheese, all cheese is good cheese.

Look out for Artisan Cheese Gallery’s cute little yellow storefront on the corner of Laurel Canyon & Ventura. Inside, the cheese emporium showcases a staggering selection of over 300 revolving artisan cheese options. Here, when you ask for goat cheese, is it cranberry chevre, bleu cheese chevre, chevre with peppercorns, raw goat cheese, Italian, French, Spain or Indiana plain goat cheese, paprika chevre or applewood smoked log chevre? You get the idea.

Much like a classy wine store, the staff can also help guide wannabe cheese connoisseurs with samples to broaden their cheese horizons. Just tell them what you like, and they’ll offer up samples of likeminded cheeses to complement your taste.

Although it must be noted that expertise doesn't come cheaply. The prices are unmarked so I don’t know if it’s indicative of prices across the board, but while you can get a chunk of the lovely, buttery St. Andre triple-cream brie, at $25/lb, you can also get a slice-of-pie sized wedge of it at Trader Joe’s for about $4.50.

Their cheese sandwiches however are a bargain. Hearty-sized grilled panini’s on substantial pain de mie Breadbar bread, choices include roast beef with red onion jam, mixed greens and 3 blue cheese spread, grilled red pepper, artichokes, olive tapanade and asiago on kalamata bread, and applewood smoked bacon, sage, roasted gala apples and Ballard Farm cheddar (they’re big enough to eat half for lunch and save half for later, but the applewood bacon sandwich was so good, I downed the entire first half while still driving back to eat at my desk).

All for $8.95! But that’s not all! It also comes with a choice of small organic salad or hot & sweet pickles and a raspberry chocolate truffle. A three-course take-out lunch for less than $10!

See? Everything cheese-related=good.

"Is that a keg in your pants? 'Cause I'd love to tap that ass"

Cheesy everything else=not so much.

The Artisan Cheese Gallery
12023 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604
Phone: 818-505-0207

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