Nothing says, “I have good taste, but I also like to party” like a proper cheeseboard. Sure, we’ve all picked up whatever-looks-good last minute from the Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s cheese section (no judgment – the love for TJ’s Honey Jalepeño Chevre is real), but if you’re ready for a deeper, cheesier cut, venture past your grocery store this year before plating your holiday party cheese and charcuterie.
Arcadia Premium Beer, Wine & More
5618 East Thomas Road #100
Sure, they offer a delivery service, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a trip inside. Owners Lara Mulchay and Joel LaTondress put a lot of love into their small, but interesting cheese collection. You can also take home one of their “Cheesemonger’s Choice” boxes (prices range from $40 to $115) that can include other goodies like crackers, meats, and wine.
Our recommendation: Rogue Creamery Off-Kilter Scotch Ale Washed Toma. Soft-ripened and on the stinky side. Not for the faint of heart.
Duck and Decanter
1651 East Camelback Road
One North Central Avenue
It’s easy to get lost in the loose-leaf tea and coffee selections, but the real heart of this quirky grocery is the cheese window. Semi-hard cheeses, like manchegos and cheddars, seem to reign supreme here. You can easily fill out the rest of your cheeseboard at Duck and Decanter, too – Marcona almonds, charcuterie, and locally made fruit spreads abound.
Our recommendation: Derby with sage. Nutty, herbaceous, and (dare we say?) festive.
5345 North Seventh Avenue
The petite fromagerie inside French Grocery carries mostly French and European imported cheese, as the name implies, but you can also find some local Arizona products, like Crow’s Dairy goat cheese. Be sure to pick up a fresh loaf of bread from their bakery to go along with your cheesy loot.
Our recommendation: Saint Andre Brie. A classic done well, plus brie always plays so nicely with others on a board.
Murray’s Cheese inside Fry’s Grocery
Various locations; call ahead to check.
Okay, we just told you to branch outside of your grocery store, but this is special. The iconic New York City cheese shop Murray’s recently partnered with Kroger to put Murray’s-curated cheese kiosks inside groceries across the U.S. – andd that includes nine Fry’s locations in Metro Phoenix. Overwhelmed by the variety? The cheese-savvy folks behind the counter will point you in the right direction.
Our recommendation: Rogue Creamery Rogue River Blue. Cave-aged while wrapped in brandy-soaked grape leaves from the creamery’s neighboring vineyard. This is a special seasonal cheese that will likely sell out quickly.
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(Saturday mornings only)
721 North Central Avenue
No cheese counter here, but it’s worthwhile to check out the goods of some of Arizona’s local cheese makers. You can get a $90 party pack of smoked cheddar and scamorza from Fiscalini (not local, from California), or fresh mozzarella from Foccacia Fiorentina.
Our recommendation: Goat cheese from Chile Acres. Tangy, soft, and uniquely Arizonan.