One of the joys of travelling to foreign lands is discovering their cheese shops and the wonders therein. One of my favorite stops in Paris is Fromagerie Quatrehomme, on Rue de Sèvres. If you’re a cheese-lover and you’re visiting Paris, make sure this is on your list of places to visit.
The French didn’t invent cheese, but they elevated it to an art form; as Charles De Gaulle said back in 1962, “How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?” Fifty years later, that number has more than doubled (but the question still remains...) The various regions of France and the incredible variety of cheeses produced are a gourmet (and gourmand) delight.
The roots of the store go back to 1949, when Marie’s parents opened the Maison du Fromage on Rue de Sèvres. Daughter Marie took over in the 1980’s, and now her children, Nathalie and Maxine, follow in her footsteps.
The store is a delight, offering a variety of French cheeses, and a wealth of knowledge. Several of the cheese mongers spoke English, and even those who did not were perfectly communicative when speaking “cheese.”
The attraction of any cheese shop in France is the ability to buy and try cheeses that are not obtainable in the US due to the restriction (pointless in my opinion) on importing raw milk cheeses. Here, you can find “real” Brie, Camembert, and dozens of fresh chèvre in as many shapes and sizes.
If you plan ahead, you can even bring cheeses back to the states, packed in your luggage. I travel with coolers and ice packs that I freeze at the hotel, then pack in the cheeses for a voyage home. Soft cheeses need to be well protected as the icepacks will not last long flight and delays in immigration/customs; they keep everything cold, but softer cheeses will deform.
On this trip, I found wonderful Corsican cheeses called A Filetta (“The Fern”), a delightful washed-rind cheese with a fern atop the wheel. Also making its way back with me was one of my favorite cheeses, a “Fermier St. Nectaire” with its earthy aromas and delicate taste. The shop had some lovely Selles sur Cher, the bloomy-rinded goat cheese that’s just a few weeks old, and another delightful goat cheese crated by the monks in the Monastery of St. Nicholas, in the town of Dalmerie in the Languedoc.
Keep an eye on this column, as I will be posting extensive tasting notes over the next few weeks.
Vive la France, and Vive les fromages Francais!