|Fair Food always has an enticing display of artisinal cheeses|
Longtime vendors Ed Sciamanna of Salumeria and Jack Morgan of Downtown Cheese are the go-to stalls when your tastebuds crave a fine brie, traditional geitost, genuine Swiss emmentaler or many of the world's other great cheeses. Fair Food concentrates on cheeses made within a half-day's drive of Philadelphia which you would otherwise have to obtain by visiting the farm or seeking out at one of the city farmers' markets. (Before Valley Shepherd opened its RTM shop Fair Food frequently carried one or two of that North Jersey producers varieties.)
Sometimes, however, it's not the fancy, $26 a pound cheese you crave, but that flavored spread for crackers, or just some sliced domestic Swiss for your sandwich. If that's the case, head over to either Hatville Deli or Riehl Deli (L. Halteman Family), two Pennsylvania Dutch vendors. The pimento spread at Riehl's makes a fine, easy and cheap accompaniment to a bottle of beer while watching the game.
A more limited but specialized selection can be found at Wursthaus Schmitz, with a few German dairy products, like Quark.
Another spot for specialized ethnic cheeses is 12th Street Cantina, with a strong inventory of essential Mexican cheeses if you plan on making queso fundida or other South of the Border dinners.
And Hershel's East Side Deli will cut you a hunk of creamy cheese to bring home to accompany their smoked fish.