C'est Cheese is gone, but in its place is now in the same location in Santa Barbara is The Cheese Shop. 837 Santa Barbara St, around the corner from the Santa Barbara Presidio, just down from West Canon Perdido Street.
Customer demand apparently said we still want a local cheese market. And they responded. Covid ordering procedures - lovely online headings for each cheese, choose the amount (1/3# is good size to try) and get the price, choose a time for onsite pick-up or a $10 local delivery charge, pay for it and get your confirmation number by email. Drop by the shop at your appointed time and the friendly folks hand you a bag with your order wrapped and labeled.
For starters I tried the Swiss Raclette (Swissophile here); a well aged California Gouda; and a Dutch semi-aged Gouda with cumin and caraway seeds - childhood favorite. As I feared, the Raclette was off the mark in flavor - just not the divine stinky, gooey favorite, which is even hard to find in Switzerland today. This tasted more "commercial" than in the rawer stuff I had grown to love when living in Switzerland - the kind that becomes even more divine when broiling gets the edges crunchy..
But it melted in a lovely fashion and had robust body - over potatoes with cornichons. Smelled up the kitchen slightly, but flavor was too disappointing to try this brand again. Main problem with the "real" Raclette it the smell chases everyone away, yet the taste itself is divine - not sure how that works since taste and smell work so closely together, but in this case the taste overpowers the smell - the magic of a real Raclette.
More on the domestic aged Gouda and Dutch caraway/cumin semi-aged Gouda later. Since there are no foreign travel adventures for me on the near horizon, taking tasting adventures is my new form of travel, so I do intend to explore as many of their long list of cheese offerings at The Cheese Shop as possible. Don't even ask me about my $80 order of Swiss Zweifel Paprika potato chips, early in this lock-down state we are in when I was in full stay at home pout..
One suggestion - I hope they add more descriptions and history for each cheese on their website - to inform and entice.
On the way to pick up my cheese order I noticed the old "hippie era" Sojourner Cafe was getting refurbished under the new owner "patisserie and cafe" (right next to the venerable Handlebar?). Stay tuned since this downtown area is a nice space for sidewalk tables and outdoor dining away from the hustle of crowds on State Street - two blocks away.
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