Glutton Travels: The Cheese Shop of Carmel

Mar 03, 2012 29 Comments

We all have those getaway or destination spots that serve as an escape from reality.  Places where time slows down and the batteries are recharged.  Ever since I can remember Carmel, located on the Monterey Peninsula in California, has been one such place for me.  The small town, affectionately known as Carmel by the Sea, has always presented a clean quiet charm tucked in the midst of a seaside forest of cypress and pine trees accompanied by the calming sounds of the ocean.

However, long before I knew what the term foodie was, it was Carmel’s restaurants and specialty shops that satisfied my senses and soul.  Seductive smells emanated from the town’s bakeries and restaurants waffling through the air from dusk til dawn, mixing harmoniously with the ocean air.  What the restaurants served and specialty shops offered combined to provide this unknowing foodie with everything his soul required.

And while time provides change and the unfortunate disappearance of particular restaurants and shops, there has been one gourmet shop in Carmel that continues to be a constant source of gluttonous satisfaction: The Cheese Shop.

Located on the bottom rung of Carmel Plaza, The Cheese Shop is one of the best, most engaging cheese/specialty stores I have ever encountered during my nomadic wanderings across America.  From the moment one enters, the staff starts in with their wonderfully relentless efforts to have you sample as much cheese as needed to satisfy any particular craving(s) you might have.  Three individually focused cutting blocks on the right side of the store serve as the staff’s “enticement” stations, where customer’s eyes are confronted with the vast and varied cheese selection.

Seemingly anything and everything is available for tasting and purchase.  From Aged Cheddars, to stinky Bries and blissful goat cheeses, to old stand bys like Manchegos and Blues, The Cheese Shop has it all.

Ever helpful and knowledgeable, the staff is happy to be your guide through tastings of old and new favorites from around the globe.  It’s easy for both novices and cheeseheads alike to spend hours exploring and talking cheese with the staff.

During my most recent trip to the store, while covering the 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am, I had a hankering for a properly Aged Gouda and my palate was “forced” to sample a plethora of Goudas including three versions that I’d never encountered: one aged for nearly 4 years (nutty and delicious), another made with coconut milk (a coconut lovers delight), and finally a Gouda infused with honey (clean, creamy, slightly sweet, and oh so good).

Of course, any self respecting gourmet shop doesn’t offer only cheese to the needy foodie.  Fresh breads, cured meats, olives, specialty crackers, spreads, and most importantly a solid wine selection is required and The Cheese Shop of Carmel delivers on all accounts.

The back half of the store is entirely dedicated to The Cheese Shop’s wine inventory, offering an eclectic selection of known and a few lesser known domestic and international wineries.  And while the majority of the store’s offerings are that of higher end wines, the staff is always available to point customers in the direction of a few budget conscious gems.

On the whole it’s exactly what you want from a cheese and gourmet shop; interactive tastiness, accompanied by a selection of all the necessities to enhance the cheeses one’s purchased, along with compelling reasons to becoming a regular patron of the establishment.

In fact the only thing missing at The Cheese Shop is an indoor cheese/wine sampling bar at which perpetual gluttons like me can park ourselves at and work our way towards immobile happiness from everything the store has to offer.

But until that day comes, I’ll be happy with walking through their doors every time I’m in Carmel, supporting an establishment that continues to represent aspects of what for me makes Carmel a sensory satisfying, soul recharging town.

Many thanks to everyone at The Cheese Shop for their hospitality and if you can’t experience The Cheese Shop in person, check out their website by clicking here.

Here’s a brief photo gallery of the store:

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29 Responses to “Glutton Travels: The Cheese Shop of Carmel”

  1. ChgoJohn says:

    Oh, how I’d love to spend an hour or two in that shop! I imagine they must have occasional tastings and I’d be a regular, to be sure. You’ve convinced me. I need to find a good cheese shop around here. In the meantime, I’m going to check out The Cheese Shop’s website. Thanks, Jed, for pointing me in the right direction.

    • sportsglutton says:

      You don’t have a cheese shop John?!! I must say that I find that terribly disconcerting. Hopefully Chicagoland has an acceptable equivalent of Carmel’s.

  2. Karen says:

    The Cheese Shop sounds like a great place to visit, Jed. What makes it nicer is that it is located in such a nice town. A lovely wedge of cheese and a glass of one of the wines you have suggested would be lovely right now. It would tide me over nicely until dinner.

  3. Eva kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com says:

    Wow, that shop sounds amazing, Jed. We have the cheese boutique but for the most part they are rather grumpy.

  4. ceciliag says:

    god i want that shop! I would pull up a chair and sample.. cheese is one of my favourite things! really! No REALLY! not being sporty or anything.. c

  5. sprint2thetable says:

    I saw your tweet about this post earlier and was trying to fathom how you combined caramel and cheese. :)

    Gouda is one that I’d cheat on being vegan for, That is my all-time favorite with a deep red. Mmmmm… so good-a. (Sorry, I couldn’t stop the bad joke from coming forth.)

  6. The Mom Chef ~ Taking on Magazines One Recipe at a Time says:

    I love cheese. I’m French after all so it’s in my genes. I’m sure at some point in my life I’ll make it out there (hopefully), and when I do I’ll be sure to give The Cheese Shop a visit. Thank you for the heads-up on it.

    I have to say though, I’m let down that you would talk about Carmel and not mention Clint. The man personifies love for the town. (And he’s been ‘my’ movie star since I was a kid.)

  7. Tina@flourtrader says:

    Well I did miss out. I used to live in California but never have been to Carmel. The cheese shop sounds like a place that I would enjoy and also spend some money there. Thanks for posting about this wonderful place!

  8. Mary says:

    Oh my goodness, you’ve made me crave a bit of excellent NON-stinky cheese, in addition to missing Carmel (a place I have only visited once, but enjoyed greatly). If only some of my family would move back to CA, so I could visit again.

  9. Judy@Savoring Today says:

    That is a shop I could fall in love with and get lost in, for sure! I’m with you, I’d want to find a place to park and indulge for the day. 😀

  10. Liz says:

    I was a mere child the last time I was in Carmel, so I only remember the ocean…and none of the charm of the town. I’m certain my parents didn’t want to parade us all in and out of specialty shops, so I must make certain to visit again~

  11. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide says:

    I can see why you love this place!

  12. Sissi says:

    It sounds like a fantastic place! Coconut gouda??? Wow! I will remember this one when I go to Holland.

  13. Courtney says:

    I haven’t been to Carmel since I was 18, and I definitely need to get back! This shop looks amazing!! And it sounds like the service and selection really make it stand out.

  14. chappy81 says:

    I’ve been there a couple of times, that place is crazy. I didn’t know there were that many different kinds of cheese until I went there. My buddy is into all the expensive ones so I’ve gotten to try a few good ones, and some that were way too strong for me!

  15. Angie says:

    ooh YUM! I would be like a kid in a candy shop here =D

  16. Bobby Charts says:

    Thanks SG, nest time the wifey and I to Monterey were going to have to stop by there! Look great!

  17. spicegirlfla says:

    Jed, you described this so well that I felt I was walking through it with you and actually getting the aromas! I could so spend hours there; the products, look and feel of that shop if just what I like!!

  18. dancing bear says:

    sportsglutton: the cheese shop at the plaza is a great place, but with your background in golf, you might want to stop in at the Cheese Monger on south street in St. Andrews. Impossibe not to come out with over two or three different fabulous finds. Are you into Blue Cheese at all. Be sure to try Cashiel Blue from Ireland or Lanark bluefrom Scotland. Enjoy.

  19. RedRaider says:

    LOVED that store. We must have spent an hour and a half in there. ummm sample after sample of delicious room temperature cheese.

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