Smile and say CHEESE!
Owned and operated by Erika and John Aylward, with frequent appearances by daughters Gina, Julia and Jamie, the Boulevard is another one of those lovely, rare places where when you walk in the door, you're family.
You can't beat the place for fun. I love that I can walk in, snuggle a handsome man and a beautiful woman, then ask "What's new?", and end up well fed. Erika and John know their cheeses, and the shop is crammed to bursting with things to complement their cheeses - fine wines, interesting beers (Mocha Java Stout!), cheese knives, chocolates, good bread, sausages, fancy crackers - even a wide array of sea salts and spices. And walking in on Truck Day?
"Hey Maggie! Look at this cool new cheese we just got! Wanna try it?"
These people have parted me from so much money with that one sentence. They know my tastes and are always introducing me to new yummies and re-introducing me to old favorites. Samples? Sure. Try before you buy, and you don't even have to ask.
These are a few of the cheeses I've grown to love:
P'tit Basque - French (Pyrenees) - Sheep's milk. The texture of this handmade cheese is very firm, with a rich, extremely nutty flavor. It slices extremely well, and would be a wonderful complement to a thick, fat burger. It's also just heavenly on its own.
Idiazabal - Spanish - Sheep's milk. Hard, dry, but not crumbly. Rich, full body with a hint of smokiness. The texture is similar to Parmesan, but more velvety.
Murcia Al Vino (Al Vino Drunken Goat) - Spanish - Goat's milk. Semi-firm. This cheese is soaked in Burgundy wine during the ripening process, lending it a faintly pink tint closest to the rind. When served cold, the wine is sharply noticeable, but as the cheese comes to room temperature, the texture becomes more buttery and the sharp bite of the wine is replaced by a smooth, mellow hint of it. Wonderful alone, but even better with a whole wheat cracker.
Manchego - Spanish (La Mancha) - Raw sheep's milk. Hard. In spite of Manchego's hardness, the texture is smooth, not at all grainy. It tastes faintly of salted walnuts, and has a strong, salty afterbite.
Cantal fermier -- French - Raw cow's milk. Semi-hard, creamy, with a buttery taste and texture. This stuff just melts on the tongue.
Humboldt Fog -- American (McKinleyville, California) - Goat's milk and culinary ash. This cheese comes in tiny little wheels of a pound each, and is a modern cheese. It's only been around for about 6 years. The texture immediately under the (edible) rind is a bit soft, like cream-cheese, giving way to a firmer texture inside. Like Morbier, there is a line of culinary ash in the center, giving the mildly sharp cheese a slightly smoky finish.
Reblochon -- French - Raw cow's milk. Semi-soft, golden yellow and smelling faintly of freshly baked bread, this cheese has a smooth texture and a sweet, nutty flavor.
These are just some of the cheeses I've grown to love in the past year and a half, and I'm always looking forward to the newest additions.