Last weekend I was on the UWS and decided to buy a selection of cheeses at Zabars. I usually purchase my cheese from either Murray's or at Garden of Eden on 14th Street and until now didn't fully appreciate the usually excellent product I was getting.
I bought some French Emmenthaller, French Roquefort (Societe), Canadian Oka and Pere Joseph. Also, let me say, the help was absolutely unknowledgeable and their selection was pedestrian.
Well....these were sorry cheeses (something I once heard Max McCallman from Picholine say). I could have left these cheeses out on the counter forever and they wouldn't ever develop that beautiful sweat a glow of room temperature cheese that calls out to be eaten.
All but the Roquefort were virtually tasteless at any temperature. I always knew the best thing about Zabar's cheeses was how quickly they moved their product and the low prices, but these were all worth nothing so on that basis they were extremely expensive.
They obviously don't have a cheese "cave"- more like a cheese garbage bag. I wasn't expecting to be blown away by their cheese but I was really disappointed. Maybe this is how fondue got started.