Toronto's underrated East Chinatown is, of course, home to dim sum, Chinese BBQ and bakeries. But a turophile’s emporium? Look for the ketchup-red awning at Broadview and Gerrard, and behold: Good Cheese. Yep, that’s the name — and it also happens to describe what awaits inside, plus a whole lot more.
“We’re a neighbourhood shop where you can pick up interesting things on your way home — but also get things for special occasions,” says owner Luke Champion, who has run the tiny gourmet grocer for five years.
There are wine bottles — more than 300 of them — on almost every available surface, standing shoulder to shoulder with canned provisions, fancy chips and fresh baguettes.
They even do wine and chip pairings. “We have different chip flavours like camembert, piri-piri, porcini mushroom — it’s fun to keep things light and do some simple pairings like that,” says Champion, whose last name couldn’t suit him any better. He is just that — a champion of good taste, the kind of guy you want at every dinner party. His reco? “One of the most incredible culinary experiences that someone can have is a wedge of Délice de Bourgogne, a triple-cream cheese from Burgundy.”
Champion suggests pairing it with a really good baguette and a steely white wine like a chablis. He stands behind his claim that this pairing can rival anything in a five-star or three-Michelin-star restaurant. “This is what I love about food — it can feel limited by budget, but you can find those experiences anywhere,” he adds.
Thank you, Champion. Noted. In addition to this French cheese are 40 other types of fromage from all over the world, but Champion says that some of his favourites come from Ontario. Like Five Brothers, for example, a cow’s milk cheese from Gunn's Hill Artisan Cheese in Woodstock. “It’s an amazingly sharp and nutty cheese, and part of its strength is that it’s so approachable,” he says. Funny, that’s the strength of Good Cheese too.
Foodism faves at Good Cheese
As a great alternative for those who aren't cake people, Good Cheese has cheese towers. “They look like a wedding cake, but it’s stacked wheels of cheese decorated with figs, grapes and herbs,” he says. “You can do it for weddings or any occasion where cake is appropriate.”
Good Cheese offers customized cheese platters, available in different sizes that come on beautiful wooden boards. Just remove the wrapping and voilà. “They’re arranged very elegantly and always change in terms of our selection,” says Champion.
Recently, Champion has started exploring the expansive world of chocolate. “There’s this amazing chocolate maker from Dubai called Mirzam — I’ve fallen in love with them," he says. “They have a dark chocolate bar with dates and fennel that’s light and delicate and delicious.”
Good Cheese, 614 Gerrard St. E.; goodcheese.ca