Beautiful Places At Home: Bay Head Cheese Shop & Bottles Too
Unique, much more than cute, extremely personal & elegantly local, the Bay Head Cheese Shop & Bottles Too is a beautiful place to pick up something decadent for a winter weekend at home.
A lot of people don’t realize that there’s something better than what’s available to you by The Big Stores: ShopRite, Stop n’ Shop, Walmart, Target… All great stores for one-stop-shopping for everyday needs as affordable as you can get on the East Coast. But they are so impersonal sometimes, it hurts. The science behind stocking shelves would infuriate you - planograms, packaging, cost-evaluations, brands that pay for specific eye-level positioning… insanity.
I find myself yearning for “something different” every so often - I don’t know WHAT exactly, but I do know that, “I don’t know what I don’t know.” On a sunny and cold Sunday afternoon I decided to pop into my favorite local cheese boutique and ask them to recommend the 'something different' I was looking for. I know, it’s weird to call it a boutique, but it’s more than just a shop. Shoppe? Fromagerie? All these things and more.
On the main strip of Bridge Avenue in quaint downtown Bay Head, New Jersey, the Bay Head Cheese Shop & Bottles Too occupies a quiet corner block shared with a clothing store. It’s quiet in January, at least… probably not so quiet in the summertime. When you open the door you hear the traditional bell chime, reminding you that you’ve walked into someone’s curated sensory experience.
It’s small but meticulously organized so you don’t feel like it’s too crowded inside, and you can (and want) to see EVERYTHING. They’re always buzzing in this shop; The ladies behind the counter cut samples for a guest looking for something similar to brie but with more of a bite; Orders for custom quiches come through on the telephone; The wire-cutter cheese board prepares a wedge of aged Nøkkelost; Decorative gift baskets being wrapped and ribboned in time for pickup; Every kind of cracker, chip, toast, flat, bread you could spread jam, cheese, jelly, preserve imaginable staring you down (lovingly).
They have just the absolute cutest accoutrements for serving cheese, charcuterie, wine and more. They posted a pic for New Years of some Prosecco and napkins that inspired me to pop in this day and I was so glad I did - this place always lifts my spirits.
Speaking of spirits, it’s Bottles Too, ya’ know. They have some amazing wine in here, most of which is affordable and smart. An expensive wine doesn’t always mean its good, and a great wine doesn’t always have to be expensive. There’s not a ton of space, and they’re not about to try to compete with Buy Rite or Wine Academy, but that’s not what it’s all about anyway. A flavor experience awaits you and all you need to do is ask.
Start with your favorite wine type and ask them, “What cheeses go with this?” or “What pairing will completely blow my mind?” When a shop of experts gets a challenge, expect them to rise to the occasion.
DAY TRIP IDEA WITH FRIENDS
The Bay Head Cheese Shop and Bottles Too is a great spot to visit with friends on a Sunday morning. Bring everyone down to Bay Head and park across from Mueller’s Bakery, grab a coffee and a roll and walk two blocks to the beach. Enjoy the scenery there - bring a warm coat and a blanket, sit and enjoy your coffee as the sun glitters off of the waves for 10am. Walk back towards your car, shop the fashion boutiques that line either side of the street. Pop into the Cheese Shop and load up your car with goodies to enjoy for the evening. If you’re all feeling a bit naughty, pop into Charlies Restaurant and get yourselves a mimosa at their handsome bar. On the drive home you can even drive through Main Street in Point Pleasant and go antiquing at one of the many quite large antique shops glittered about town.
This is a beautiful day trip with friends, and I must say I may enjoy it more around here in the winter time. Someone somewhere is always stoking the fires that tint the air with the promise of warmth. You’ll be pressing your teeth to get home and try your new cheese and wine experience, and looking at your calendar to plan your next quick winter getaway - I guarantee it.