Whether you want Cheddar or Camembert, Morbier or Maroilles, Havarti or Halloumi, a couple local cheese shops are a Gouda place to start. One recently opened in San Luis Obispo, while another well-established shop has just relocated to a new, larger space in Paso Robles.
If you’d like to tour the world of cheese without breaking out your passport, head to Fromagerie Sophie on Garden Street in downtown San Luis Obispo.
Just recently opened in November 2013, this fromagerie (“cheese shop” in French) is modeled after those that Sophie Boban-Doering and her husband, Paul Doering, experienced during a milestone birthday trip to Paris.
“We just loved eating and walking our way through Paris,” remembered Boban-Doering. “When we got back, we really missed the cheese shops and the bakeries and wanted to share our passion of cheese with everyone.” One day, she recalled, “We thought, what if we opened that cheese shop? We really weren’t serious at first, but the more we daydreamed ”.
The couple spent about a year doing research — which happily entailed eating a lot of cheese as well as doing market studies for their concept.
When they finally felt ready to proceed, “everything just fell into place,” said Boban-Doering, “and I’ve always loved Garden Street. We’ve also been very well received, which has helped us feel we’re doing the right thing.”
In addition to many other gourmet items, there are dozens of cheeses available at Fromagerie Sophie at any given time, “and the inventory changes depending on the seasonality.” Often also including locally crafted cheeses, the selection will always run the full gamut from soft to hard, as well as representing products from cows, goats, sheep and/or combinations thereof. If all those choices seem daunting, feel free to ask one of the shop staff to be your taste-bud tour guide.
“Though we get a lot of people who know what they want to buy or order, some do get overwhelmed, and we’re happy to guide them along,” said Boban-Doering. “I always love to throw something in that they might not have seen — it’s nice to get people excited about softer cheeses, for example — and life’s meant to explore!”
Vivant Fine Cheese
After seven years in its downtown Paso Robles location, Vivant Fine Cheese has moved — but not far. It’s settled just a couple blocks away in the 800 block of Pine Street.
“We were bursting at the seams,” said founder/owner Danika Gordon of the decision to relocate. “We needed more space to accommodate increased wholesale and retail sales, and we have more work space and storage in the new location.”
The larger space is tucked in a group of buildings, and offers much more convenient parking while still being within easy walking distance of downtown. Vivant will continue to operate as both a retail and wholesale supplier, but now will be able to offer an expanded menu for lunches and picnic baskets.
Items on the new menu will include a four-cheese flatbread, an assorted cheese plate, soup of the day and salads. Most of the sandwiches — such as the roasted turkey with creamy Havarti cheese and the Black Forest ham with Holey Cow Swiss — can also be ordered as grilled panini, plus there’s a fig and prosciutto panino available with fig spread and fresh mozzarella.
“We are looking forward to getting some locals back in for lunch and happy hour with the easier parking,” said Gordon. “We will also have patio seating with wine and beer available out front for those beautiful Paso afternoons!”