Best Cheese Shop - 2012
The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills
Long before you could find cheese sommeliers in trendy restaurants and hipster cheesemongers in farmers markets, Norbert Wabnig was building his cheese palace, helpfully named the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. The Austrian-born, New Orleans–raised cheese master first came to the shop in 1975 — at which point he worked for $1.80 an hour. Now Wabnig owns the store, a heavily air-conditioned showroom for 600 or so cheeses, plus countless bottles of wine, Armenian bread made by a neighbor, French salts, olive oils, pastas, pâtés and God knows what else. The store itself is as charismatic as its owner: jammed with interesting things like an antique shop, a place where one of the cheese guys will happily knife you a bit of Beemster X-O- or Drunken Goat or Manchego or pour you a little wine while you chat with Wabnig about his trade — or about motorcycles (he collects them) or Old Hollywood (Cary Grant was a regular customer). Wabnig's universe is not only a great place to treasure-hunt for cheese but a treasure itself. 419 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 278-2855, cheesestorebh.com.