The Cheese Shop is a market in Costa Mesa that sells cheese. It’s an offshoot of San Clemente’s excellent Cellar restaurant and packs all the charm of a Parisian cheesemonger into a space the size of a dentist’s reception area. It almost seems too cutesy—the workers all have facial hair and dress like classed-up lumberjacks, the shop’s design scheme is post-industrial meets American Pickers, and they even stock copies of the fine cheese quarterly Culture. But this is the real deal—in addition to stocking all sorts of cheeses, cheese utensils and sausages, the Cheese Shop offers service with a smile and encyclopedic knowledge. They’ll let you sample, cut off however much you want to take home, and wrap it in beautiful paper so it looks like you know what you’re doing come date night.
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You gotta respect any young chef who knows the world of delicious possibility known as quince paste. Most Americans only experience it as limp, pathetic triangles offered in cheese plates, which is a damn shame: used smartly, quince...