World’s best spots for cheese lovers

Highlights
Prinsengracht 112, 1015 EA Amsterdam, Netherlands
Just down the street from the Anne Frank House is the Amsterdam Cheese Museum. It feels more like a shop, shelves filled to the ceiling with a huge variety of Dutch cheeses, including the world-famous gouda and edam varieties. If you are strolling along the lovely Prinsengracht canal, this is a nice place to taste some samples and buy some packable souvenirs for home. And on the blocks alongside the museum are plenty of open-air, canal-side cafes.
37 Rue de Verneuil, 75007 Paris, France
The historic Androuet fromagerie has been sourcing and maturing exceptional cheeses since 1909. Their shop on rue Mouffetard is staffed by friendly English-speakers who will be happy to explain and vacuum-seal your selections, including the utterly charming manager Patrick who grew up on a goat farm. He wrote a book called “Allo les Chèvres!” (Good Morning Goats!) and makes his own fromage fort (strong cheese paste) on site. 134 rue Mouffetard, 33/(0)1-4587-8505.
3926 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029, USA
You wouldn’t know there was a store there unless you lived in the neighborhood, but the owner, Chris, has an amazing list of cheeses. I love his shop because he sells what he likes, not what people tell him is good. He’s also got an incredible selection of salumi, pasta, and very good olive oil.
Via Gino Severini, 3, 53026 Pienza SI, Italy
One of the most charming towns we visited during our May trip to Italy was Pienza, situated in Tuscany between Montepulciano and Montalcino (also worth a visit if you’re in the area). Pienza is best known for its delicious pecorino cheeses, arguably the best of which is its “sotto cenere,” or “under ashes,” variety, produced between October and July and seasoned for up to two months to develop its distinctive flavor. Another reason to visit Pienza is its incredible, prototypically-Tuscan postcard views of the rolling hills, cypress trees and rustic estates in the Val d’Orcia surrounding the town. When visiting Pienza, make sure to bring your appetite - between its rich cheeses, delicious meats and bold wines, Pienza is a culinary treat!
Twijnstraat 67, 3511 ZJ Utrecht, Netherlands
There’s more to Dutch cheese than edam and gouda. Besides endless variations on these two, including raw milk versions, there are also lesser known Dutch cheeses to try, as well as imports from all over Europe. You can also buy tools for cooking with cheese (graters, slicers, etc), wine, and foods that pair well with cheeses. One of my personal favorites were raisins on the grape vine --so cool looking! Staff generally have good English and even if you get an employee that doesn’t, you can always use the mime and point method to get a nice chunk of cheese cut off one of the massive rounds in the shop.
Via Enzo Mangiavacchi, 37, 53026 Pienza SI, Italy
One of the most delicious towns in Tuscany - and most beautiful - is the charming Pienza. Situated between Montepulciano and Montalcino in the scenic Val d’Orcia, centuries-old Pienza is best known for its rich pecorino cheeses. Many feel that the best of Pienza’s pecorinos is its “sotto cenere,” or “under ashes,” variety, produced between October and July and seasoned for up to two months to develop its distinctive flavor. Pienza is filled with great little shops like this one, offering not only the world-famous pecorino cheeses but also rich meats, mild olive oils and bold red wines. For a perfect picnic lunch, grab some salami, cheese, fresh-baked bread and a bottle of wine and head to one of the town’s many scenic vistas overlooking the Val d’Orcia valley below. Not a lunch you’ll soon forget!
103 Borough Rd, London SE1 0AA, UK
South Bank has both the best river walk in London and the city’s liveliest cultural centers, so a walk along it is a must. The path takes you from the Globe and the Tate Modern along the Thames—passing Gabriel’s Wharf with its stellar restaurants and bars—to the National Theatre, the Royal Festival Hall, the Hayward Gallery, and the London Eye. A two-mile strip has never held so many different entertainment opportunities; you could spend weeks along it without getting bored. That’s not to mention the regular outdoor performances and the unparalleled views of the bridges over the river, Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament.
80 Quai de l'Hôtel de ville, 75004 Paris, France
Did you know that only 25% of French people buy their cheese from a fromagerie? And of that 25, only 3-4% go to an affineur (cheese refiner). Both are the sad realities of a dying tradition in France of sourcing provisions from neighborhood artisans. Young affineur Baptiste Yapar doesn’t let the disheartening takeover of corporate food business dull his passion. The firebrand cheese master focuses his energy on running his shops Au Coeur du Marché (at the Marché d’Aligre) and educating the public. At La Cuisine Paris cooking school, he takes a small group through a complete background of cheese (it didn’t begin in France!), methods of production and the various designations and families of cheeses available. A copious tasting of 7-10 different cheeses (with wine) follows the contextual debut and is, as my friend and I agreed by the end, the closest thing approximating cheese heaven on earth. It is a fascinating two-hour experience that will not only inform how you consider the nuances of cheese in the future but will have you excited to seek out your nearest independent cheese shop for more.
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