BEST CHEESE Miami 2003 - Epicure Market
Epicure may not be the best-in-the-county for every individual cheese type. For instance, though the homemade cow's-milk mozzarella balls are admirable, Laurenzo's have a more pronounced fresh-dairy milkiness. But the variety at Epicure is unbeatable, and includes not just popular faves like Brie but aficionado faves such as powerfully pungent Epoisse. Prices ain't cheap (many cheeses are $15 to $20 per pound), but who's counting when you're talking about hard-to-find finds like imported raw-milk cheeses, AOC cheeses (appellation-controlled, like wine), and even more unbelievable, a sizable selection of truly gourmet kosher cheese, including some unusual French imports: flavorful mimolette cheddar, a rich 60-percent matiere grasse Brie, and a nice sheep's milk brebis. The crowded cheese counter contains artisanal cheeses from all over the western world: numerous rarities from French cheesemaker Chantal Plasse, including Salers (a kicked-up-several-notches unpasteurized milk take on industrially produced Cantal); farmhouse cheddars ranging from English (Keene's) and Irish (Tipperary) to Vermont (a four-year-old Grafton). Up on the top shelf, with related dairy products like crème fraîche and a hung Greek yogurt so thick dieters will never miss sour cream, you'll find Epicure's own cheese creations, like scrumptious pesto/pignolia-dressed string cheese, and a goat cheese spread with orange rind ideal for tea sandwiches (and which makes cream cheese taste positively anemic). Just when you've finished loading up your cart, having called the bank on your cell phone to arrange to mortgage one of the kids, you turn 90 degrees and realize there's a whole separate counter of goat cheeses you haven't even considered.
Readers Choice: Epicure Market