and caramel. 1326 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-307-0022, cheuvronts.com
AJ’s Fine Foods
Each AJ’s location features a fromagerie full of dreamy domestic and imported artisan cheeses, from Appenzeller to Zamorano. AJ’s food-and-wine concierges can help you select an exciting new cheese and fine fermented grape juice to go with it, plus give you tips on serving. For example, cheese is most flavorful at room temperature, and harder cheeses taste better in thin slices rather than chunks. Who knew? (They did.) Twelve Valley locations,
Wedge & Bottle
Since opening last May, this family-owned shop has helped spearhead Ahwatukee’s foodie awakening. It harkens to a European café, with its wall of artisanal mustards and jams, case filled with delectable cheese wheels, menu of melted-cheese sandwiches (think: gouda, Jamon Serrano ham and mango chutney on rye), and handful of tables. Look for wine- and beer-pairing classes. 4025 E. Chandler Blvd., Phoenix, 480-704-1255,
Farmers’ Markets – Roadrunner Park and Old Town Scottsdale
Farmers’ markets have mushroomed across the Valley, but when push comes to chevre, these two stand out for cheese-chasing. The Roadrunner location peddles Crow’s Dairy goat cheeses (including chevre, feta and quark) from Buckeye, as well as delicious curds in both regular and jalapeño-studded varieties from Tempe-based Arizona Cheese Co. arizonafarmersmarkets.com
Duck and Decanter
Established in 1972, this gourmet deli boasts an ever-changing collection of up to 60 international cheeses, from triple creams with roughly as much butterfat as butter itself to Canadian raw-milk cheddar. The Duck also offers cheesy sandwiches like the Briesciutto, as well as “patio trays,” spreads of four to six cheeses to be enjoyed on the patio – perfect for the noncommittal buyer. Three Phoenix locations, duckanddecanter.com
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