Photograph by Joseph Shin
For a sublimely improved sandwich, spread, or happy hour snack, sub your everyday cheeses with these small-batch Cali options
La Panza Gold
The amber-hued washed rind on this aged sheep’s milk cheese inspired the name (La Panza was a San Luis Obispo gold mining region). With a supple but firm texture and minerally undertones, the cheese shines—like 14 karats—when paired with a dry chablis. » Available at the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, 419 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-278-2855.
Known for his velvety burrata, Vito Girardi is a lactic legend of sorts in L.A. But the native Italian’s love for fior di latte (flower of milk) extends to all styles of mozzarella, especially these silky-sweet, pizza-perfect globes. » Available at Andrew’s Cheese Shop, 728 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, 310-393-3308.
Central Coast Creamery
The latest nutty release from Paso Robles’ Central Coast Creamery is hardly your run-of-the-mill Swiss. The soft texture and delicate flavor make its Holey Cow particularly friendly to grilled cheese sandwiches—and sauvignon blanc. » Avail-able at the Cheese Store of Silverlake, 3926 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, 323-644-7511.
Desert life is good for the Pearce family’s Mojave goats, judging by their tangy, crostini-worthy chèvre. The lush spread comes with an altruistic bonus: Many of the kids (and dogs, cats, chickens, and birds) are rescue animals. » Available at farmers’ markets citywide. Go to soledadgoats.com.
Vintage Bandage-Wrapped Cheddar
The 100-year-old Modesto farm’s bread and butter are its conventional cheddars, although there’s nothing basic about this prized raw milk variety, aged 18 to 24 months. The sharp but balanced buttery cheese tastes of the farm’s rich heri-tage. » Available at Wally’s Wine & Spirits, 2107 Westwood Blvd., 310-475-0606.