There are few places more wretched and soulless in the world than Beverly Hills, Ca. Mecca for all the money-flushed bottom feedersofevery stripe and creed, Beverly Hills has always attracted the worst of the worst. So much so that even most Hollywood types refuse tolive there on a permanent basis for fear that what little soul they have might be sucked out into the void of the ever rotating milieu of upscale store fronts. These stores are concentrated around the infamous Rodeo Drive, where suckers go to spend and dreams go to die.
But like most cesspools, if you look hard enough there is a tiny glimmer of hope. In this case that is the Beverly Hills Cheese Store. For those that don’t like cheese, I would recommend to stop reading immediately and do whatever it is you do besides read and eat cheese. This store is quite simply the finest establishment for cheese mongering I have found in Los Angeles. I’m sure the usual slew of hipster assholes will point out that they know of some locally sourced, civic-minded cheese dispensary in Silver Lake that I’m supposed to give a shit about. Sufficed to say, I don’t. Cheese can be bought anywhere, but the BH Cheese Store is different.
For starters, it smells like a cheese store should: a neglected roller skating rink. The pungent smell that in any other context is utterly revolting, is ambrosia to one’s nostrils and in short order, one’s palate. This store, for its tiny footprint and almost assuredly outrageous monthly rent has stocked all of the finest of everything that doesn’t contain alcohol. Tetilla from Galicia? You got it. Saint-Nectaire from Auvergne? Got that too. How old do you like your gouda? Perfect. If you are in the market for capers, jam, mustards, bread (soft or crusty) or any other indulgent, imported, over priced goody that few people you know will truly appreciate you’ve come to the right venue.
So why am I in the back pocket of this place? Quite simply, because it is the only glimpse of humanity I found in an otherwise bereft village of the damned. People come to Los Angeles to visit for whatever reason, and I’d like to think that not many make a return trip. The hot spots are not for the faint of heart. From stroller injuries and heatstroke at Universal Studios, to syphilitic pickpockets on Hollywood boulevard, the land where dreams come true is anything but. But every once in a while, if you look close enough, you find a gem like BHCS.
I never expected a chance to sample the wares. I was dead wrong. I got a taste of fucking everything in the place. Or would have had I asked. Not only is everything delicious, but they let you make sure before you buy it. The service is impeccable, almost like they rely on people to buy things in order to stay in business. To find that on Rodeo Drive in the heart of Beverly Hills is akin to something as implausible and stupid as you might find on an Old Spice commercial, say involving a polar bear and lightning.
Recently I found myself in this stinky oasis with the cackling group of hens I call my family. All opinionated and fond of cheese, I thought this experience would turn into the equivalent of getting people to agree on a pizza. I was blissfully mistaken. Once in that pungent heaven, the excitement of the prospect of all the lactic goodness coupled by the gentle guidance of the cheese monger put my tour guide duties in the capable hands of the cheese.
The ladies and I sniffed, nibbled and did all matter of masculine activities as we narrowed our selection down to eight cheeses from around the world. That’s right, before fist fighting and talking about tits with my friends, I was going to eat cheeses with my mother, grandmother and two aunts. This sort of behavior is the “pink shirt” proving how comfortable I am with my masculinity.
After everything was said and done the bill came to a reasonable $90, which I had thought I was erroneously paring down by suggesting we pick up bread elsewhere. The joke was on me, because they threw in the bread – two baguettes – for free. That’s the kind of place this is. At the risk of beating a dead horse, in the land where taking a piss costs a few bucks American, getting bread for free is simply incredible.
I paid and went we went on our way, assuring the monger that I always bring family and friends here when they come to town. While true, I feel he could have cared less, and that made me care even more. I’m sure I will have spent more than I care to think about at this establishment before it gets turned into a Wetzel’s Pretzels, but I sincerely hope that it outlasts my time here.
Sure there are other cheese stores, but who cares? There are other of everything everywhere. If you live anywhere near BH and family or friends come to visit , they will invariably want to visit Rodeo Drive and take pictures and do whatever it is they feel is important. If you make the trek, head over to Beverly Drive and do the BHCS a solid. If you don’t like cheese, well then you’ve just wasted a few minutes of your day.