I reckon that if I’m going to call myself Monsieur Fromage, I’ve got to do more than just casually eat cheese. This isn’t to say that casually eating cheese isn’t an endlessly satisfying activity. Rather that I don’t want to be a mere tourist who only knows the superficial qualities of his chosen destination. I want to learn. And I know from my own travels that one of the best ways to do this is by just jumping in.
With this in mind, I decided to do two things in 2016. One is to do more reading (more on this in an upcoming post). The other is to do more visiting, whether it be of cheese stores or events, for by doing so I will be more likely to meet people who have deep expertise and passion about what they do.
Cheese Day at the Pavillon Ledoyen is the first of these visits. Promising a tasting of the great cheeses of France and the world, great wines and spirits, and multi-Michelin-starred chefs, it seemed like a perfect place to start. It didn’t disappoint.
The Pavillon Ledoyen is a beautiful location tucked between the Petit Palais and the Place de la Concorde, just off the right bank of the Seine. It is home of Restaurant Ledoyen, with its famed three Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno (in attendance at the event). Madame Fromage and I decided to go right as the doors opened and were pleased we did, as about an hour later the space was pretty full. We entered the Pavillon, checked our coats, and walked through double doors situated at the middle of the long side of the very approachably-sized rectangular salon. Around the edge of the room were tables of cheese, wine, and spirits, as promised. In the middle was a long table lined with dozens and dozens of wine glasses and plates for tasting.
My favorite parts of the day:
- A long and pleasant conversation and tasting with Hervé Fourmiere from the noted Fromagerie Graindorge in Normandy (established in 1910 by, and still in the possession of, the Graindorge family) about the industry and France’s attachment to high quality cheeses and the time-honored traditions that, despite encroaching industrial production, are still widely practiced today.
- A nearly-as-long conversation with Marie-Anne Saloux representing Calvados Père-Magloire, who introduced us to the very common practice in Normandy of having a good Calvados with cheeses from the region.
- Tasting an outrageously good Gorgonzola à la cuillère (literally, Gorgonzola by the spoon), the gooiest (and utterly sensational) way to eat this Italian blue cheese.
- A fascinating conversation with Christophe Prouvost, Director of the famed Fromagerie Berthaut, the house which relaunched production of the ancient Époisses cheese in its ancestral home of Burgundy in 1956 and France’s #1 producer and exporter to this day, about raw versus pasteurized milk and Berthaut’s switch in the year 2000.
- Some very good goat’s cheeses from Fromagerie Jousseaume by Alain Jousseaume himself, accompanied by his friend Chef Jean Christophe Girard, who had us taste a beautiful specimen topped with confiture de cédrat, a green citrus fruit.
All in all, it was a tremendous experience and I was delighted to be able to attend. I was most appreciative of the time the above-mentioned people spent speaking with me and I have even more to write about them.
As for the next event, I’ve just received my accreditation for the Salon de Fromage in late February/early May. I can’t wait!
Below are my photos from the day, or go to the gallery.