Tasting cheese in its native country is such a pleasure; the ambiance adds so much to the experience, and when it's done in a cheese shop like Quatrehomme, it is even more of an experience - truly joyous.
Fromagerie Quatrehomme is one of Paris' well-known affineurs (someone who ages cheeses). The shop is not large, but carries a wide selection of cheeses tending towards the French, together with a very nice selection of hams, honey, wines, and other accompaniments.
The advantage to shopping in a shop owned by an affineur is that because they age the cheeses themselves, they are on sale at the proper time, and they are properly stored and handled so as to preserve their character.
Aging cheese is one of the more costly parts of the process. It is very labor intense. Young cheeses must be dressed and turned several times a week, and even older cheeses, such as Cantal or Beaufort, are turned regularly. Small producers often lack the time or the resources to both make and age their cheeses, and so depend on the affineur to carry out what is the most important part of the cheesemaking process.
The affineur receives the young cheeses from the producer, and then places them in their caves to be cared for until they are perfectly ripe. This is becoming a more common practice in the world of cheese, either through a cheese shop like Quatrehomme, or a dedicated company that then distributes to the cheese shops. Androuet is another French firm that provides this service. In the US, Murray's Cheese and Artisanal in New York also age cheese in their own caves ("cave" in this sense is not actually a cave, but rather a number of temperature-controlled spaces). Jasper Hill Farms provides this service for a number of smaller producers.
Most of the cheeses can be cut to size, and a taste is always available. In fact, a Comte was being cut for display, and customers in the store were treated to a sample. The shop also vacuum packs the cheeses that are being carried out to better preserve them.
In addition to cheeses, the shop also carries a delicious selection of hams, including parma and sec, along with other chartrucerie. There is a selection of honeys from around France, and a surprisingly large array of jams designed to be eaten with cheeses. This has become quite a popular condiment that is appearing in more and more shops.
Quatrehomme is located at 62 rue de Sevres, near the Vaneau Metro stop, on Rue de Sevres. If you are visiting the Invalides or the Dome (and you should), it's about a 10 minute walk away. Unfortunately, they don't have a website, but they can be contacted at 01-4734-3345.
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