France is a culture of cheese, chief amongst the reasons we get along so very well. One of my favorite stops each Saturday at the market is with my local fromager, Clement. His wife’s family raise sheep and have been making cheese for generations. He attends five different markets each week, selling only the finest fromage, has been utterly sweet to me, and is extremely passionate and knowledgeable about his products.
For this particular cheese plate I created on an unexpectedly balmy December afternoon I asked Clement to recommend a variety of cheeses from different regions of France with different textures, colors, and flavor profiles. Some young, some aged, soft, firm, creamy, cow’s milk, goat, sheep. His suggestions of 5 cheeses (4 of which are available in the US from Murry’s Cheese, my FAVORITE cheese store in New York, and linked below!) led to the most beautifully decedent platter mixed in with a symphony of dried fruits, nuts, olives, tapenades, honey and saussions (cured meats) from the local market.
Continue reading “The French Cheese Culture”
~ Story and styling by Chef & Food Stylist, Molly Shuster. Photography by me.
From the Chef:
For my 25th birthday, I went on a trip to Paris. Yes, this makes me just about the luckiest girl there is and my experience in France was only confirmation of that fact. I fell in love with Paris- the food, the city, the people, the pastries! All of these were enough to make me consider packing my bags and staying for good.
Of all the wonderful food I had while in Paris, nothing quite compared to the incredible cheese that could be found throughout the city. Virtually all the cheese in France comes from small local dairies. The variety was astounding, as were the myriad differences in color, texture, age, smell and taste.
Dinner in France inevitably includes hours of laughter and conversation with friends, fresh bread, multiple bottles of delicious cheap wine, and a cheese course to finish the meal. Offering anywhere from 3-6 varieties, the cheese course quickly became a favorite part of my Parisian suppers. Happily, this is a tradition I can practice anywhere.
Unlike in the US, cheese in France is made with unpasteurized milk. All American milk is required by law to undergo pasteurization due to health laws. While this inevitably makes for a different kind of cheese, there are American dairy farms using traditional methods to produce beautiful, artisanal dairy products. Next time you are at your local farmer’s market, check out all the different varieties being offered.
An ongoing collaboration, please do see more recipes from our series!
The fun thing about working with a chef and food stylist is that they have big blocks of Parmigiano Reggiano laying around their kitchen. Now, the important question, do I take a bite when she’s not looking?….
Out takes from our cheese plate photo shoot.