February 13th, 2005


Cheese Boutique

Location: 45 Ripley Ave. Toronto.

Thanks to saffronjan's observational and organizational skills, three of us went on a westward expedition yesterday to check out Cheese Boutique's truffle tasting events of the weekend. Located in a unprepossessing '50s office strip off of the Kingsway/Queensway intersection, on the inside the building's a tidy cram of international gourmet goodies.

The entryway doubles as a café and cooking demonstration area, where the lure which brought us out there in the first place was profiled. A guest chef was cooking away, producing sample nibbles of chesnut in puff pastry with a drizzle of truffle oil, and a prosciutto-wrapped asparagus in an amazing balsamic-port reduction with a few shavings of truffle on top. It was all enough to convince the rest of the party to invest in bottles of in-store made truffle oil. I only refrained because I already had a small and endless bottle at home; they got the better bargain. saffronjan also splashed out on a whole truffle, which was pre-scheduled to star in our dinner that night.

I spent most of my money on products I'd been hearing good things about for a long time now, or else grocery products I need anyways, including tortilla chips for my enormous pot of chili. Fleur de sel, heirloom "Forbidden Rice", and Liberty-brand yoghurt were all of the long-read-about variety of purchases, picked out from high, densely crowded, well-kept shelves which filled in all the walls on both levels of the store. Here and there were additional samples: I tried a Late Harvest Vidal, the tortilla chips I bought were sampled with guacamole. A man offered me an elegant cup of tea; I had to decline, and he was grumpy.

larkvi and I had obscure cheese tastes - they didn't stock any of what we were after, even though we know some of them are available at other fine cheese stores in town. But that didn't stop either of us from sampling a variety of their enormous selection and each buying a small handful of slices. The store featured a nice variety of Quebec artisanal cheeses as well. The Cheese Boutique makes a number of their own products, including a striking aged gouda and their own prosciutto. The products are aged in a cool, dry, dark visitable room built into the center of the store.

Finally, we went back to saffronjan's, where she made us stilton-stuffed prosciutto-wrapped apricots and comfortingly munchy aged buffalo cheese and red-pepper-and garlic-jelly bruschette. We sipped an oak-aged herb-flavored Polish mead with it as an aperitif, more like a light, tasty sherry than any mead I'd drunk before. High quality pasta tossed in olive oil, garlic, and truffle shavings, accompanied by my underflavored multi-colored pepper salad, completed our feast. larkvi brought a bottle of buttery chardonnay which went nicely with the meal, a versatile wine.