episode 6: cheese

In France, cheese is so much more than just something to be eaten. In episode six I look at the importance of cheese in French culture, as a reflection of regional tradition, history of a people and the seasons.

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In this episode I am invited into the aging cellars of the Maître Fromager (Cheese Master), Dominique Sellier of the Fromagerie Escudier. He explains how cheese is aged, and talks about the role of cheese in French culture as well as how it’s eaten. In the second part of the show I talk to Jennifer of Chez Loulou, an American woman who has undertaken the enormous challenge to taste as many different French cheeses as she possibly can. In the third part, you’ll hear a story of cheese appreciation, and how persistence can pay off.

Part 1: Aladdin’s cave

Dominique Sellier, Fromagerie EscudierIn part one of this episode I found myself in the cheese aging cellar of Fromagerie Escudier, owned by Dominique Sellier, a third-generation cheese lover and Maître Fromager (Cheese Master). I was surrounded on all sides by shelf upon shelf of different cheeses, and we conducted the interview right there in the cheese cellar.

We discussed his role as a Cheese Master, where his passion for cheese comes from, where and how he finds the different and unique cheeses he sells in his shop, the importance of terroir for cheese, what is involved in the process of aging cheese, the specialities that he offers in his shop and the best regions for cheese production as well as butter. We also talk about why cheese is eaten at the end of the meal, choosing the right wine to go with your cheese, the rules for constructing a cheese platter, how to cut and store cheese and what his favourite cheeses are.

For the French-speakers who are interested, you can hear the full interview at the very end of this episode, after the credits.

Where to find him: Fromagerie Escudier - 44 Rue Escudier, 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt (métro line 10, Boulogne – Jean-Jaurès) – Tel. 01 46 05 14 85
Favourite cheeses: goat’s milk cheese (in summer), Mont d’Or (at Christmas) and a 3-year old Comté

Part 2: 200 down, 800 to go…

6-jennifer-loulou-03In this second part of the show, I talk to Jennifer of the blog Chez Loulou, who is working on the very difficult endeavour of tasting every cheese in France. For each cheese she tastes, she takes detailed tasting notes and photos, as well as comparative comments and wine pairing suggestions, then posts all this information on her blog.

We discuss where her passion for cheese came from and where she came up with the idea to do such a project. She tells me about some of the most interesting and unusual (and unpleasant) cheeses she has ever tasted, and talks about some of the difficulties of working on such an endeavour and how she goes about sourcing different cheeses. We talk about the goods and evils of supermarket cheeses, how to find good cheese to taste when you’re travelling through France, and finish off with a discussion about the importance of wine.

Where to find her: blogfacebooktwitter
Favourite cheeses: Le Deauville, Briquette de Gors & Tome Basque
Least favourite cheese:  Boulette d’Avesnes

Part 3: Persistence pays off

6-dominique-sellier-12In the final part of the show I share my own tale of learning how to appreciate and understand cheese. You can read the full transcript here.

Reading recommendations

These are the books I used to help me understand the process of how cheese is made (and any errors in the description of this process are my own).

Full picture gallery

  • Cheese, at the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
    Cheese, at the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
  • Normandy
    Normandy
  • Jennifer, of Chez Loulou, in her element
    Jennifer, of Chez Loulou, in her element
  • Jennifer, of Chez Loulou
    Jennifer, of Chez Loulou
  • Chez Loulou
    Chez Loulou
  • Dominique Sellier, of the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
    Dominique Sellier, of the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
  • Cheese, at the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
    Cheese, at the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
  • Cheese, at the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
    Cheese, at the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
  • Jennifer, of Chez Loulou, also knows her mussels
    Jennifer, of Chez Loulou, also knows her mussels
  • Dominique Sellier, of the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
    Dominique Sellier, of the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
  • Dominique Sellier, of the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
    Dominique Sellier, of the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
  • Dominique Sellier, of the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
    Dominique Sellier, of the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
  • Brie de Meaux
    Brie de Meaux
  • Cheese, at the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
    Cheese, at the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
  • Cheese, at the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
  • Dominique Sellier, of the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
    Dominique Sellier, of the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
  • Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
    Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
  • Cheese, at the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
    Cheese, at the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
  • Cheese, at the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
    Cheese, at the Fromagerie Escudier, Boulogne-Billancourt
  • The ladies of Normandy. Moo.
    The ladies of Normandy. Moo.
  • The ladies of Normandy. Moo.
    The ladies of Normandy. Moo.
  • The ladies of Normandy. Moo.
    The ladies of Normandy. Moo.
  • The ladies of Normandy. Moo.
    The ladies of Normandy. Moo.
  • The ladies of Normandy. Moo.
    The ladies of Normandy. Moo.
  • Jennifer, of Chez Loulou, in her element
    Jennifer, of Chez Loulou, in her element
  • Beurre de Baratte
  • Speck, the snoring, snuffling & ever-so-sweet dog
    Speck, the snoring, snuffling & ever-so-sweet dog

Music featured in this episode

 

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10 Comments

  • Posted November 18, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    From Romance to Cheese… This is INDEED a podcast about France!!!! ;)

    • katia
      Posted November 19, 2012 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      Sauter du coq à l’âne, that’s my speciality, Matoo! ;)

  • David Kolenda
    Posted November 19, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    You handled the French language interview wonderfully! As a non-French speaking person, I got a ‘taste’ of the timbre of his voice, while not losing the information he provided.

    • katia
      Posted November 19, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      Thank YOU for your advice on how to handle it, Kolenda! I am glad that it sounded ok to you!!!!

    • Romy
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      Eve,The milk was unpasteurized and the only heat nedeed was that from the hot water tap in my sink. So I guest that means its raw when you think about it like that.PS: I just waxed it last night after letting it sit out to dry. Now all I can do is wait for a month and see what happens. I can’t wait to eat it!

  • RuleSpider
    Posted November 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Boulette d’Avesne is hardcore as hell.

    I live in Lille so it’s from my corner of France but really only really old people or hardcore cheese addicts can stand it.

    In fact what make it so bitter and acid in its taste, is that when maturing that cheese the farmers diped it in mix of Cognac Chouchen (honey based liquor from Britany) and Cognac for 5 weeks.

    That’s what make it so bitter that cheese DO contain alcool inside it but give it a very particular taste once you had the herbs and spices that goes with to make it being complete there’s no turning back like it or let it rot. ^^

    I’m glad to see that even with the extreme caution of the cheese sellers she tried it anyway but my god do i understand her.

    Well at least she knows that she’s not completely addicted to cheese otherwise she would have love it anyway.

    Thanks for the epsiode Katia. ^^

    • Minati
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      I just had to see the chseee. Made with milk from a happy grass fed cow you say? Wow. Even being a vegan, I must admit that if I had a cow I’d make some chseee. We’ve enjoyed making sourkraut in the past. Lot’s of good enzymes and probiotics there. So is the chseee raw too? I know there are even some raw foodies who eat raw chseee. Thanks for sharing the photos!

  • RuleSpider
    Posted November 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Oups forgotten about Genièvre so it’s Cognac, Chouchen , and Genièvre

    Sorry about the double comment.

  • Posted November 30, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    camembert a la truffe? i must go and find myself some of these. loooove this episode. i’m a long way from knowing french cheeses well (i aim at trying a new one per week) but give me some time, i’ll get there some day (give or take a decade or so?) ;)

  • Posted January 19, 2013 at 4:35 am | Permalink

    Loved this episode! Cannot wait to get to France and taste all of the wonderful cheese. I don’t know a lot yet- but the way you described Camembert.. omgggg yum! Do you have a Camembert I should look for in Paris that you love?

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a podcast exploring
the je ne sais quoi
about life in France

created & produced
by Katia Grimmer-Laversanne
© 2012