Cheese Boutique is a Toronto institution, a sanctuary not only for hundreds of globally imported cheeses, but also many staples and specialty products.
Around in one form or another since 1970 and run by the same family for generations, the store not only ages their own cheeses but also cures their own meats, and is home to 16,000 ingredients imported from all over the world.
It’s less of a cozy boutique and more of a wonderland, product stacked from floor to ceiling, hams and panettone boxes hanging all over.
There are three aging rooms, though only one is open to the public. Humidity and temperature levels are controlled precisely in the special climatized cheese aging environments, this room reserved more for manchego, parmigiano, and giant hanging Auricchio provolone, cheeses that will age here for years rather than months.
Cheeses handmade in small batches in regions like the Loire Valley and Italy have their own dedicated section.
Out of about 500 cheeses in stock at any given time, around 100 are from Canada, more than from any other single country, many from Ontario and Quebec as well as BC and PEI.
They’re also known for stocking truffles and other exotic fungi like pine mushrooms.
Pates, terrines, rillettes and mousses are made by Cheese Boutique’s own dedicated producer in Quebec, using proteins like duck liver, guinea fowl and boar, ringing in around roughly $6 for sizeable blocks.
Some of the most blinged-out balsamic vinegar I’ve ever seen is retailed here from brands like Leonardi, a vinegar farmhouse that’s been producing since the 19th century.
A produce section has everything from raw staples to rare organic fruits and veg like mangosteens, passion fruit, star fruit, rambutans, tamarillos, cactus pears and kumquats. Of course, there’s also everything you’d need to go with cheese, like berries and grapes.
A bakery section has the only Nadege products to be retailed outside a Nadege store, as well as Cheese Boutique’s own house-baked products—even bread.
There are tons of prepared foods here, including frozen meals and even gelato made using ingredients found in the store.
A lunch counter has a hot table section and sandwiches made with house-baked breads and cured meats.
They also prep their own helpful components for making meals at home, like their own soups, stocks, doughs and dips.
Not only cheese, but Ontario prime beef is aged in a special climate-controlled room here.
Cheese Boutique produces over half a dozen kinds of their own sausages made using hand-ground Ontario Berkshire pork.
The Pristine family still runs the shop, maitre fromager Afrim Pristine known for his cheese wisdom and enthusiastic presence on the floor.