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C'est Cheese Is All About The Finer Things

By S. Mathur

It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it. C'est Cheese is all about cheese, 120 varieties of it sourced from around the world and from artisan cheese makers. It's about tasting cheeses, pairing them with the right wines, meats, spreads and honey, serving cheese at the cafe and bakery, creating catering platters, and of course, talking about cheese to other enthusiasts at classes and special events.

It all began innocently enough, with a trip to the vineyards, owners Michael and Kathryn Graham recall.

"We were visiting Santa Barbara for a weekend trip and were looking for some cheese to take with us while we went wine tasting," they said. "We asked all over town for a cheese shop but to our surprise, Santa Barbara simply did not have one. We felt that it would be a great addition to the town, given the proximity to wine country, and in December 2003, we opened our doors."

They were right about the need for a cheese store, and the business has been expanding ever since. Ten years later, they had the opportunity to expand into their neighboring spaces, and the C'est Cheese cafe and bakery opened in May 2014.

"The cafe atmosphere is bright, lively, and casual at the same time," the Grahams said. "We strive to find a balance between comfort food, high quality ingredients, and healthy options as well. You'll find a lot of locals in the cafe as we truly enjoy catering to the local community."

Where there's cheese, there must be cold meats, and C'est Cheese has a wide selection. Cured meats include Spanish Jamon Iberico, Mole Salame from Salumi Artisan Cured Meats in Seattle, and the house-cured Pancetta. At the cafe, one of the favorite items is, naturally, the breakfast grilled cheese.

"While the flavors change weekly, it always starts with our signature grilled cheese blend, housemade bread, arugula, and a poached egg," the Grahams said. "Weekly flavors include a variety of housemade spreads, jams, and roasted meats. It's always indulgent and always delicious!"

More austere pleasures include wine and cheese evenings, and cheese classes that introduce cheeses from around the world and from local farms. There's also a cheese club, and members have a new selection delivered to their homes every month. The cheese club highlights cheeses from artisan cheese makers and also cheeses at their peak ripeness.

A new addition at C'est Cheese is the cheese and honey class. It pairs five cheeses with five kinds of honey, served along with a glass of rose wine. The class is informative and fun, with lots to learn about the cheese making and honey collecting processes. And perhaps best of all, the honey and cheese varieties tasted in class are available for sale in the store, to take home and enjoy.

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