EAGLE ROCK -- If there’s one food thing Northeast L.A. needed, it was cheese. While Auntie Em’s on Eagle Rock Boulevard does have a small selection of great cheeses, up until a few weeks ago, the true cheese shop experience required a trip to Pasadena or Silver Lake. But not anymore. Silver Lake Cheese Shop alum Leah Park Fierro has filled the niche with her new Colorado Boulevard shop Milkfarm. The neighborhood spot offers local and imported cheese, assorted meats, local gourmet products, and a glass case overflowing with fresh-made sandwiches and pastries.
The cheese selection includes the favorites you expect, like Cypress Grove and Cowgirl Creamery varieties, plus more obscure finds from across the country and around the world. “I’m proud to carry some exciting cheeses that I have to special order in advance from other countries. It also feels good to bring in customer requests. I’m the cheese liason!” says Park Fierro, who happily dishes out samples to stymied customers while searching out their preferences to help them find their “it” cheese. She even slices and packages orders right at the front counter, which is a nice touch.
The sandwiches are probably the biggest draw. When I was there on a recent Saturday, customers crowded around outside before the doors even opened to get first dibs on picturesque stacks of rustic sandwiches. There was a long, thin, crusty baguette filled with shaved turkey, thick-sliced smoked mozzarella, and bruschetta; house-roasted beef on potato rosemary slices done up with horseradish aioli, saurkraut and Hooks Two Year Cheddar; and of course, the grilled cheese, which seems to be Milkfarm’s thing. These grilled cheese are not of the hardcore, cheese-and-butter-dripping variety that have become so chic—they’re more restrained with a mix of shredded cheeses and flavorful additions, like leeks, shallots and onions. It should be noted that quality, not size, is the aim at Milkfarm, so most sandwiches require a side.
To that end, you might consider a pastry. Milkfarm doesn’t make their own, but they do source them from Bread Lounge along with all the bread that’s used for sandwiches, which is great news. They also sell their baguettes and ciabatta rolls. The kouign amann is the thing to get since there’s nothing like it for miles. The rare, sugar-crusted, buttery cake with lovely denseness is impossible to stop eating until every last crumb is consumed. The chocolate chip cookies topped with sea salt will also do you right, and the croissants, filled with smoky ham and cheese are a good take-home gift to yourself.
You should also check out the handpicked selection of LA-made products, from Morning Glory Confections brittle to luscious fruit presses from Grace & I (right now they have the Hawaiian one with pineapple, mango, papaya and macadamia nuts). Going one step further, Milkfarm also hosts different local food makers, who come to sample and sell their wares, every Saturday. They recently had Pagnol Boulanger (see that beautiful basket of bread below), and the next few weeks will bring The Fancy Boyz and Creme Caramel LA. Cheese classes and Parmigiano cracking parties are also in the works.
It’s no wonder Milkfarm is already so popular. Why didn’t anyone think of this sooner?
Valentina Silva writes about food and restaurants. You can also find Valentina’s reviews and stories on her blog, Eastside Food Bites.