If your idea of the four food groups is cheese, charcuterie, bread and wine, Milkfarm in Eagle Rock is set to become your new grocery shopping central.
Leah Park Fierro, formerly head cheesemonger/manager of the Cheese Store in Silver Lake, opened the cheese-and-charcuterie haven April 7, inspired by the little specialty shops she saw while on a yearlong worldwide travel jaunt and fulfilling a lifelong dream to own her own business. (Previously she worked as a pastry chef for luxury hotels for seven years.) "I've always loved cheese," Fierro says. "It's so fascinating because it changes every single day, with every season."
The shop specializes in selling artisan cheese, meats and other handmade food products from small and independent producers. "We love to support Los Angeles-based small businesses," the friendly Fierro says. "Each item is taste-tested, hand-selected and curated." (Ask a cheesemonger what they recommend - they love cheesy conversations.)
Current selections include classics such as Appenzeller (Black Label, Switzerland), the Reading Raclette (Vermont), Humboldt Fog and Point Reyes (California), Saint Angel Triple Créme (France), Cowgirl Cremery's Red Hawk and Mt. Tam (California), Bucherondin (France), and, of course, Wisconsin cheddar. In addition to the regular selection of cheeses, seasonal cheeses make special guest appearances, such as the stunning Winnimere currently offered from Vermont, a pungent raw cheese so soft it is served with a spoon.
Fierro, who grew up in Southern California and has worked in the food industry for 15 years, is currently working on an alcohol license so that Milkfarm can carry wine and beer, both to sell and to serve on-site. She expects to have her license in 30-90 days.
In addition to cheese, Milkfarm offers a curated meat selection and other assorted goodies (sea salt caramels, peanut brittle, unusual jams such as Ghost Pepper Peach, quince paste, olive tapenades and oils, pestos, honey), baguettes from Bread Lounge, as well as different pre-made sandwiches and salads each day.
There is a different featured grilled cheese daily, such as the Soup and Sandwich Grilled Cheese - the "soup" is roasted tomatoes grilled with Cotswold cheese on country grain bread. Other recent choices, which sell for $8-9, included Proscuitto, red bell pepper pesto, shaved red onions and Estero gold on ficelle; turkey, fennel radish slaw, aioli, Dijon, and shaved pecorino on potato rosemary bread; and lemon artichoke heart tapenade, sundried tomatoes, shaved red onion, goat cheese and greens with sherry vinaigrette on a baguette. Current drink selections include iced tea, cold-pressed coffee, sparkling water and fancy sodas.
Another option is the cheese board - for $15, you select three among several choices of cheeses and meats that change daily. They are served with slices of baguette, cornichons, dabs of mustard and chutney and whatever else seems appropriate.
Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily - seating is at a communal, farm-style table at the back. If you prefer your sandwich to go, it will be wrapped in brown paper and tied with a pretty colored string.
Milkfarm has developed a partnership with local farmer Mike Scott so that fresh produce, farm-fresh eggs and local honey are also for sale at the shop. The "farm" also hosts classes, "meet the maker" nights and wine and cheese pairings and hosts private parties and events.
Open for less than a month, "The response has been phenomenal," Fierro says. "I think everyone in the community has been itching for something like this here."
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As for her own favorite cheese? "You can't ask a cheesemonger that. That changes from day to day and season to season. It changes with the weather," she says. "But if I have to choose, I'd say I'm a cheddar girl through and through. I eat it with everything. I even eat cheddar with rice."