Saturday, September 24, 2011
On Location: Paris, France
This week, five months before my 40th birthday, I'm in Paris with 20 members of Wisconsin Cheese Originals, visiting cheese shops, tasting endless rows of bloomy rind cheeses and touring the City of Lights. Tomorrow morning we leave for Loir-et Cher to tour Chateau de Chambord and to taste goat cheese in Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine. More about that later in the week - first I have to tell you about the cheese we discovered in Paris.
Our trip started Thursday night with a visit to Sacre-Coeur Church (I can also check singing nuns off the list), a tour of the artist community in Montmarte, the Bohemian heart of Paris, and a four-course welcome dinner at La Bonne Franquette.
Several bottles of wine, an appetizer of snails in garlic and butter sauce, onion soup, duck in orange sauce and a healthy serving of chocolate mousse later, we were a very happy bunch. There's nothing like a stomach full of French food to help you catch up on sleep after a way-too-long overnight flight from the U.S. to France.
Friday was cheese shop day. We started with a visit to the fabulous indoor/outdoor Marche d'Aligre, a farmer's market on steroids. There, we caught up with Gigi Cazaux, who is now living in Paris, and who, in May, published a 135-page report titled: "Application of the Concept of Terroir in the American Context: Taste of Place and Wisconsin Unpasteurized Milk Cheeses." Gigi joined our group for the next couple of days, helping us with rudimentary functions such as ordering cafe au lait in corner bistros and navigating the interesting French world of same-sex restrooms. Thank, you Gigi!
The second stop was at Fromagerie Dubois & Fils, where the fabulous owner herself, Martine Dubois, welcomed us with a private tour and tasting of three different French cheeses. Madame Dubois has run her cheese shop for more than 40 years and carries 300 different cheeses between the retail space and her affinage caves. She specializes in carrying different cheeses cheeses from EVERY region in France. I discovered cheeses here that I never even knew existed.