Discovering Cheese Heaven

by Anne Maxfield on October 27, 2014

Accidental Locavore MagnifiqueThere’s a place in Paris that the Accidental Locavore’s husband used to refer to as shoe heaven and I always said, “if it was really shoe heaven, all the shoes would be free.” Well, the other day, I may have stumbled into cheese heaven.

Accidental Locavore MimoletteThe French Dairy Organization has decided that Americans don’t eat enough French cheese, and to remedy that are backing a nine-year operation to get us into eating plus de fromage. It starts with a slick new store on 39th Street in Manhattan—the French Cheese Board.

Accidental Locavore Blue CheesePart store, part gallery (photos of good-looking French women eating cheese), part tasting area, along with a soon-to-be cooking school and other educational projects or, as they say, the “first international event space dedicated solely to the deliciousness of French cheese.” The website has beautiful photos of cheese, along with pronunciation guides, wine tips and some interesting-looking recipes–all to help you “make it magnifique”.

Accidental Locavore Cheese Tasting TableThis fall, in partnership with the Cheeses of Europe, they’re doing three Friday pop-up events. I went to the first one around lunch time. It sure didn’t look like New Yorkers needed their arms twisted into eating French cheese! The place was jammed and it was easy to see why. At tables lining both walls were the participating producers, each with big platters holding tasting samples of their products. There was even a wine bar, if you needed a little palate cleanser, or just wanted to feel more French. The fromage ran the gamut from butters to triple crèmes to blues, chèvres and everything in-between. I ate most of them. And I bought a lot of them!

Accidental Locavore Bag of FromageMy favorites were pretty typical for me–a terrific triple crème and a Saint Marcellin (also pretty creamy and a little bit stinky–in a good way). The French feta is lovely and makes a great addition to my lunch salads, and the Raclette made a fantastic “potato salad” with a recipe I got from the website. Since I also picked up a couple of butters, it may be time to do another butter tasting (so I can stock up in November).

There will be two more tastings before the end of the year, on November 21st and December 12th. They run from 11-7, but it seems to be a good idea to get there early–less crowded, shorter lines to check out, and more selection. And don’t forget, there’s a Maison Kayser just a block away (that’s where all the great bread they used came from). Look for me there!





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Who Knew Cheese Could be a Minefield? Wednesday With Dorie

by Anne Maxfield on September 23, 2011

Accidental Locavore Dorie at James Beard

OK, true confession time: Dorie Greenspan has the life the Accidental Locavore aspires to. It would be easy to be jealous, however she is so delightful that it simply goes away. At a recent lunchtime book talk at the James Beard House, she charmed everyone with her tales of falling in love with France.

If you’ve never been to France, or are one of the few (misguided) people who supported “freedom fries” you can stop reading now. For the rest of you, here’s how the Locavore spent a very pleasant hour.

Dorie Greenspan is known for the many cookbooks she’s written, mostly about baking. Her latest, Around my French Table, is the first book to focus on how she fed her family and friends in Paris. It’s a huge book, beautifully photographed, with lots of interesting stories about her life there, and great recipes.

She spent most of the time talking about eating cheese in France, one of the Accidental Locavore’s most favorite things to do there. Dorie describes the cheese course as being a “minefield”. Turns out there is plenty of room for grievous etiquette faux pas, but hey, we’re Americans, so we’re excused (sort of).

First of all, when you’re dining in a French home, as here, it’s fine and appreciated, to ask for seconds. As my mother always said “flatter the cook…” However, we learned you should never ask for seconds on cheese. Why? Because it wasn’t made at home (don’t ask me why cheese is singled out and not bread or wine).

Secondly, you have to be very careful about how you cut the cheese when it’s passed to you. You are never to cut off the point of a cheese (the good part). The idea is to cut it so it’s exactly the same shape as it was when you got it, just a little smaller. Turns out the French are so particular about how their cheese is cut, there’s a book, L’Art de Couper le Fromage, and several websites. And if you want to get invited back to Dorie’s, you’ll be like one of her friends, and carefully sculpt any misaligned cheeses back in place.Accidental Locavore Dorie Greenspan

Then, if you’re not totally traumatized by all that, there’s the order in which you actually eat the fromage. When you go to a restaurant in France, they usually arrange the cheese in the order you’re to eat it in, clockwise, starting with the mildest, usually a goat cheese at 12:00 and ending with the strongest, normally a blue at 11:00 (depending on how many there are). My mother thought this was terribly pretentious, but if you think about it, it makes sense, like drinking white wines before you switch to reds.  I always start out like that, then bounce back and forth between the cheeses I really like.

Dorie Greenspan admits to only eating certain cheeses in the privacy of her home. When asked, she wouldn’t fess up to which ones they were, but my money would be on something like an oozing Vacherin-Mont d’Or.  The Accidental Locavore has never really met a piece of cheese she wouldn’t eat in public.  Is there a secret cheese you only eat when you’re home alone?



App of the Week: Fromage

by Anne Maxfield on July 6, 2011


If you’re a cheese lover, like the Accidental Locavore, you probably have lists going of all the cheeses you’ve tasted. But where are those lists when you’re standing in front of a cheese counter drooling? Fromage is supposed to keep all those notes easily available. Since I’d been tasting the “new masterpiece” for Point Reyes, this seemed like the ideal time to put Fromage through its paces. While it does list Point Reyes, when compared to lists I’d started on my smartphone, it came up short. First failure, my all-time favorite, Delice de Bourgogne, not listed. A fairly common, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, also not listed. You do have the option to add these with photos, but considering how many cheeses I had on my list that were missing from Fromage, this was starting to look like a chore.
When you do find cheeses listed, you can rate them from one to five stars, add them to a list of favorites, sort by type of milk, or firmness of cheese, or region. Unfortunately, some of these lists are long and scrolling through them can be a chore. Some of the entries are pretty pedestrian, for example, multiple entries for Laughing Cow…
There’s a share feature so you can email your choices to friends and if you add a cheese to the list, the share sends the creators an email requesting inclusion. This isn’t a terrible app, just a bit disappointing, or maybe my tastes in cheese are too esoteric.


App rating: 3 out of 5


Developer: Steve Welch

Cost: Free

Compatible with: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch