Tommy Pollio braids fresh mozzarella
I got a little testy with a Chowhound poster the other day who had the typical New York transplant attitude -- none of the cheese shops in L.A. are good enough for him, the counter people at Cheese Store of Silver Lake are too hip to understand good cheese, wah, wah. I guess I'm just not a cheese snob like that guy because I'm perfectly happy with the Cheese Store of Silver Lake and an occasional expensive trip to the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. But cheeselovers west of Beverly Hills had few choices until recently, when Andrew's Cheese Shop opened on Montana in Santa Monica. Andrew Steiner was maitre de fromage at Patina, so he knows his cheese. Last night we sampled several selections at the sleek little shop, including mozzarella bocconcini stuffed with proscuitto handmade by guest mozzarella maker Tommy Pollio, who comes in each Wednesday morning to shape the curds and braid the mozzarella. However, Pollio is soon returning to New Jersey to open a sandwich shop, so Steiner is working on learning the braiding technique himself. Open just over a month, the shop is adding an array of cheese-showcasing sandwiches and will soon start grilled cheese night on Sundays. The shop also holds Cheese 101 classes every week. One of my favorites was Crater Lake blue, made in Oregon by Ignacio Vella, which won 2nd place in the World Cheese Awards. And everyone loves the pricey Timanoix, a dessert-like cheese from Brittany washed in walnut liqueur.