A guide to the Best of Southern California : FOOD : Say Cheese. . .and Coffee and Caviar

‘IT’S PONT L’EVEQUE. Would you like a sample?” Julie Noyes, the owner of Say Cheese, offers a sliver of pale, pungent cheese.

“I’ll have some,” the customer says. She accepts it eagerly, chews slowly, savoring, judging.

It’s a scene repeated many times a day in Silver Lake’s only upscale, Yuppie-infested, quality-merchandise food boutique. Since Noyes and her partner, Jerri Woods, purchased Say Cheese (a neighborhood fixture for 18 years), they’ve made subtle but important changes: The inventory was scaled down, with fewer gadgets and more emphasis on such ready-to-go foods as salads, sandwiches and desserts. The cheese menu--which always listed Cambozola, several kinds of goat cheese, a fine sharp Canadian Cheddar, Stilton, Brie and Roquefort--now also includes such less-familiar lactic treats as Livarot, Roucolons and Etorki.

Say Cheese is the only store east of La Brea Avenue to carry a nearly complete line of La Brea Bakery bread, from the thick, pizzalike onion bread to the bittersweet chocolate-cherry loaves. The deli case is stocked with Norwegian salmon, beluga caviar and 17 kinds of pate. And huge jars of olives and sun-dried tomatoes, fancy jams and mustards, flavored oils and vinegars, herbs, capers, crackers, 37 varieties of coffee beans and Valrhona chocolates from France are on display in the tiny store.


Also for sale are custom-assembled picnic baskets for summertime and gift baskets for holidays.

Say Cheese, 2800 Hyperion Ave., Los Angeles; (213) 665-0545.