If I am ever in the vicinity of the East Bay, there is one place I always have to stop — the Cheese Board Collective in Berkeley.
It doesn’t matter if I happen to be headed to Oakland or Emeryville. I gladly make the detour, put up with finding parking in Berkeley’s congested Gourmet Ghetto, and happily wait in line at this bakery.
Because the baked goods are just that good.
I’m talking sourdough cheese rolls so incredible that I almost always inhale one right when I get back into my car; the freshest English muffins with a plethora of lovely nooks and crannies; sweet, crumbly corn cherry scones the color of sunshine; and moist, deep, dark, wonderful chocolate cake loaves with a hint of coffee.
Then, there’s the cheese. The store has one of the best selections with almost 400 different cheeses sold. It also has a very knowledgeable staff to help you decide between that Mona jack cheese, that Chaumes triple cream or that Windsor blue. Best yet, they offer tastes before you commit to buying.
The Cheese Board was founded in 1967 as a small cheese store. Four years later, the owners sold the store to its employees. Ever since then, it’s been a 100 percent worker-owned business that operates as a cooperative.
Now, it also sports a separate pizzeria just steps away that’s open for lunch and dinner. You can find it easily by the long line that’s always there, especially at the noon hour, with customers primed to buy whole ($20) or half pies ($10) or just a slice ($2.50).
The Web site lists the type of pizza that will be featured each day. It may be topped with peaches, mozzarella, Danish blue cheese and arugula in a lemon vinaigrette one day; and fresh corn, zucchini, onions, mozzarella, feta cheese, garlic olive oil, cilantro and key limes the next.
Only one pizza is featured daily. It’s always meat-less, and it features the amazing cheeses sold at the store.
If you want to bypass that line at the pizzeria, you can pick up a half ($10) or whole ($20) partial-baked pizza to-go at the cheese store instead. I often do that, then heat up the pizza on a stone in my oven at home for a fantastic, no-fuss dinner.
If you’ve never visited the Cheese Board, it’s definitely worth making the trip. I guarantee one visit is all it will take to leave you hooked.
Another Berkeley Bakery Worth Visiting: Love at First Bite Cupcake Bakery