Fromagerie Laurent Dubois
There’s a falafel shop on the Rue de Rosiers, an historic street in Paris’ trendy Marais district lined with all variety of Jewish businesses, that is very popular with the tourists. On most days at lunch you’ll see dozens of people waiting patiently to try what they have heard is the “Best Falafel in Paris.”
I’ve eaten at that restaurant. And I’ve eaten at the one across the street. And I’ve eaten at another one down the street from there. You know what? All three make delicious falafel, as do a number of Lebanese places around town.
It's the same with fromageries amongst the cheese cognoscenti. Some swear by Androuet. Others by Quatrehomme. And certainly many say it’s Laurent Dubois, who has been enshrined into the pantheon of fromagers as a MOF, or Meilleur Ouvrier de France.
As I was walking to meet a friend the other day, I realized I wouldn’t be far from Dubois’ Saint Germain location and decided to pass by. After crossing the Seine on the Pont Saint-Michel, I meandered through a few narrow streets that ultimately spilled out at the place du marché Maubert. I spotted the store and went in.
I looked at every cheese they had. As I was still several hours from returning home, I hadn’t intended to buy anything, but when I asked what the difference was between Selles-Sur-Cher and Selles-Sur-Cher confit all of a sudden the latter was being wrapped up. At that point, I figured I was obliged to keep going!
I had a very enjoyable conversation with the seller, an older gentleman who opened up about his own preferences as our discussion went on. I don’t believe it was Dubois himself, unless he was out of uniform (he was not wearing a red, white, and blue collar that signifies MOF status.) In any event, we spoke about the Salon, an American blue cheese he adored, and the many versions of Ossau-Iraty. I left, very satisfied, with one cheese of each milk source.
Ossau-Iraty, fermier (Stéphane Chetrit)
My favorite sheep’s milk cheese from the Basque region along France’s border with Spain, this was unlike I’ve ever had even among the more aged specimens which this clearly was. It resembled a parmigiano reggiano, very firm and somewhat crumbly in texture with a slightly salty almost winy flavor and a rich nutty smell.
From the Loire region, this ash-covered goat’s cheese is typically soft and creamy inside. The confit version is returned to a humid cave for further aging, causing the interior to become more like a semi-hard tomme and creating a stronger flavor. I really enjoyed this as it was a nice departure from the chèvres I’ve had recently, which were on the creamier, milder side.
Maroilles, fermier (Ferme des Bahardes)
Maroilles has a bit of a checkered reputation as it develops a very powerful smell (think: cow patties and feet, combined) that puts many people off. This was the last cheese I picked and I had asked the seller for a cow’s milk cheese that was less powerful. He directed me to this and assured me it was a young and less strong version, which had me excited as the very first maroilles I ever tried was young and very good. Let’s just say what we discussed and what I ate were two different things. This maroilles was very funky in both taste and smell. We didn’t get past a few initial tastes before Mme Fromage and I packed this one up and said enough.