Divine French Cheese
A near-daily ritual was a visit to this nearby Marais fromagerie, featuring an outstanding selection of cheeses and knowledgeable help. In the U.S., one often sees Brie, Camembert, Boursin, and Roquefort, but most of the 350-400 kinds of French cheese do not appear on our grocery shelves. Every day in Paris was a cheese festival!
We looked forward to selecting a cheese and eating it with a freshly baked baguette. Several favorites emerged. French chèvre comes from grass-fed goats in the Alps and has a tangy subtle flavor unmatched in domestic versions. Vergers Saint Paul carried types ranging from soft in the center to firm. St. Agur, a soft blue cheese that is 60% butter fat (forget about your cholesterol count -- you’re on vacation) is mild, spreads easily, and melts in the mouth. Creamy-textured Saint-Nectaire tastes of hazelnuts and mushrooms and is made only from milk from the Saler breed of cows. This cheese dates from the time of Louis XIV.
It is helpful to know the French words for strong, mild, soft in the center, and firm for your discussions with the clerks. They will give you small samples to help you choose, especially when words fail you.
You will not find this quality and selection at a French supermarket; a visit to a fromagerie is in order. Fortunately, there are many outstanding shops scattered through Paris. Each major market street will feature at least one.
Now back in the U.S, my husband and I are pining for our daily cheese fix.