Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What We Ate: French Cheese

French Cheese is rather like French Wine.  Both are very complex, regional,dependent on the terroir and the weather, variant from year to year and season to season even in the same locale.  Both are conserved at roughly the same temperature, but never together.  French cheese, as with French wine, is an art, and while I make do with the cheese available in the U.S., I never pass up the chance to taste the real deal in France. 

There are always new places to experience fantastic cheese.  Starting in Paris at the marche biologique or organic market, Boulevard Raspail on Sunday, Laura and I found lots of deliciousness.


The reference MG on the label above means matiere gras which is fat content.  Also noted on the label, this is made from lait cru chevre or raw goats milk.  There is an ongoing battle among the European Union and France to force France to pasteurize their milk; France will thankfully not comply.  We bought this crottin below with the sundried tomato~ this was amazing with the roast chicken and baguette we also bought~


In Brittany, we were shown the most amazing cheese store by our hostess Jacqueline.  Just look at this~ 


and this~

IMG_6044[1]And tell me, if you substituted shoes or jewelry or other finery for the cheese, it wouldn’t be out of place, would it?  Here a shop in Paris~


This is the best cheese store I have ever seen; truffled brie is about $50 a pound, about the same as a fancy pair of shoes~? Depending on which shoes you buy I suppose, but this is gold~

IMG_6042 Everything about the display and selection of this store was perfect; perfect perfect~


In Burgundy, we had the treat of a cheese cart or chariot at Lamloise, in Chagny.  This is a three-star Michelin restaurant, the highest designation of any restaurant in France.  More on Lameloise later, but let me say this is the epitome of French cheese selection; best best.  The staff will explain the cheeses to you, and you make your selection of usually 3-4 cheeses. That’s me at the beginning, asking him to start the tour over again as I want to make a video~

Lameloise gets their cheese from Alain Hess, our best fromager in Beaune.  They serve whatever is perfect that day, and Alain Hess stores everything for the restaurant in their temperature controlled cheese cellar.  A visit to the store or their stand at the Saturday market is a treat.  More on Alain Hess later.


Here is R’s selection from the cheese cart; honestly, I don’t remember which cheeses he selected, but I remember they are local Burgundy cheeses like the Citeaux, which is a cheese made by the Cistercian monks, in their Abbey not far from Beaune; the plate included a dried apricot and a bit of home-made prune jam, amazing with the cheese~


In France, you will often hear reference to cheese de la region.  There are many wonderful local and small producers.  We have many fantastic cheeses in Burgundy; R absolutely loves this very gentle man selling fresh cheeses as our Saturday market, a true artisan.  He makes cheese from goat milk as well as cow’s milk.  His sign is very specific, the cow’s milk cheese is made from Charollais cows, the famous white cows of Burgundy~


I served four pieces from this fromager on a simple Limoges platter; goat and cow cheeses, fresh and slightly aged; fantastic.  I know this presentation goes counter to the display I showed you yesterday, but the group of us had just selected it together that morning at the market so we knew what is was. And I didn’t have time to walk to a nearby vineyard for grape leaves.  The various shades of cream and white were simple yet elegant alone on the plate~


Personal note to my dear Guy et Jacqueline, I can never look at a rocher de fromage without thinking of you and les Pierres Alongees~


haha they will appreciate that; I think of them daily, my dear friends from Brittany and their hospitality.  I will be back to visit them soon!!!


  1. Beautiful, beautiful, delicious post!!!!! I am so wanting to sample all of those cheeses. I showed my husband and we both were hungry! So yummy!

  2. Your photos and advice about French cheese was fabulous Andrea. You and Laura have to be having the time of your lives? I only wish I were carrying your bags. I so love cheese and look forward to drinking and eating my way through France in the near future.

    Safe travels and all my best to you both,
    xx Deb

  3. Andrea you are the most perfect tour guide even from afar!! I love to see all of the wonderful array and displays of French cheese.

    Art by Karena

  4. The EU will be the death of country individuality; I so dislike the EU. But I love Cheese, French and otherwise. Brittany is on my 'must visit' list; many thanks for the travelogue.

  5. That is cheese heaven. Simply delicious. Thanks for the information.

    Sheila in S.F.