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Valentine's Day: LA cheese stores add culture to the cheesiest day of the year (recipes)

A picture taken on November 18, 2011 sho

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In gastric anticipation of Valentine's Day, KPCC consulted with some of the best cheese stores in Los Angeles for suggestions, selections and favorite recipes for going genuinely cheesy on Feb. 14.

As no self-respecting purveyor would blindly make recommendations without knowing a wine and food plan, we explained this was a cheese-centric undertaking, and that readers would be advised to let their cheese choices dictate the rest of the consumables. Please be advised.

Whether you're planning to plunge a knife through the voodoo brie heart of your ex-beloved, or planning a candlelit feast for you and yours, below are the cheeses that stand alone, and the recipes sure to open arms and close arteries.

 

1. ANDREW'S CHEESE SHOP 
728 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90403 
(310) 393-3308
Cheese whisperer: Andrew Steiner

The cheese stands aloneThe Kiss. From Switzerland. They just received four cases. It's a double creme that goes great with many beverages, including champagne. Described as earthy, buttery and with a rich, meaty texture.

Favorite cheese recipePotato gratin, or Vacherin Mont d'Or with potatoes baked in. Vacherin Mont d'Or is a winter cheese and will only be available for a few more days, said Steiner.

2. ARTISAN CHEESE GALLERY
12023 Ventura Blvd.. Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 505-0207
Cheese oracle: Fred Heinemann

The cheese stands alone:
  • Midnight Moon. Mellow goat gouda without any goaty flavor
  • Primadonna. Holland cow gouda
  • Humbold Fog. Light California goat with edible ash stripe
  • Epoisses. Silky. French. Cow. Strong.
  • St. Agur. French bleu. Popular.
  • Beecher's Bandaged-wrapped Cheddar. Mild. With a wild name.

Favorite cheese recipeThe good news... it's Mac and Cheese. The bad news is that it's a secret recipe from the Yardley Inn in Pennsylvania. Heinemann is sworn to keep the formula vaulted, but there's nothing to stop you from calling the source with a little sweet-talkin.' Good luck.

3. THE CHEESE STORE OF BEVERLY HILLS 
419 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 278-2855 
Cheese maven: Marsha Krebs

The cheese stands aloneBrillat-Savarin. Triple creme brie. French cows. Perfect with bubbles.

Favorite cheese recipeFondue. Period. Here's the classic recipe they shared with us. Pretty sure we're Valentines now. Swoon. 

Classic Cheese Fondue
recipe by: Norbert Wabnig

Classic Cheese Fondue (4 Servings)

COMMENT: Since cheese contains fat, and wine is basically water, there is an obvious problem:  water and fat do not mix well.  So what do you do to guarantee a velvety Fondue?  You must use natural and well aged Swiss cheeses that will melt smoothly.   We recommend a combination of our aged Emmenthaler, Gruyere and Appenzeller.  Also, be sure to select a sufficiently dry white wine that will blend successfully with the cheese.  If these basic ingredients are used, you will never be disappointed with a lumpy or stringy fondue.

INGREDIENTS

1 clove garlic
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp Kirsch
2 pounds grated Swiss cheese (Emmenthaler, Gruyere and Appenzeller combined)
1 Tbsp flour
Pepper
Nutmeg
2 loaves crusty Italian or French bread

Dredge cheese with flour.  Cut bread into 1-inch cubes.  Each cube should have crust on one side.

Rub the inside of your 'caquelon' (fondue pot) with cut garlic clove and add wine and Kirsch.  Heat on stovetop over medium flame until wine is hot but not boiling.  Add lemon juice.  Add handfuls of cheese, stirring constantly with wooden spoon until cheese is melted and cheese-wine mixture has the appearance of a light creamy sauce.  Add pepper and nutmeg to taste.  Bring to a boil, then remove the caquelon and place on lit burner on table and enjoy.

TIPS: To thicken a thin Fondue, add a little bit of cheese dabbed with flour.  Mix well while it is melting.  To lighten a thick fondue, add some lukewarm wine and mix well again.

FUN FONDUE RULES

One of the most popular Fondue customs is if a lady loses her bread cube in the Fondue she owes the man to her right a kiss.  If a man has such a mishap when dining in a restaurant, he should buy the next round of drinks.  At home, he owes his hostess a kiss!

Another fun Fondue tradition is to leave a thin layer of Fondue at the bottom of the caquelon.  By carefully adjusting the heat, this layer will form into a crust known as "la religieuse" - the religious one.  Lift it out and distribute among your guests.  It is considered a delicacy.

Favorite cheese? We want to hear about it. Got an amazing recipe? Tell us in the comments!

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