In France, making and serving cheese is an art. There are more than 1,200 varieties of French cheeses and, unlike American cheeses, many of them are unpasteurized, meaning that they take on more complex, nuanced flavors. Like wine, French cheese are said to have a terroir, or flavor that is unique to the particular place that it is made.
But it’s not just the flavor of cheese that sets French cheeses apart, it’s the way they are enjoyed. “Cheese is very much a part of everyday life in France,” says Marjorie Taylor, co-owner of The Cook’s Atelier. Marjorie has been putting together elegant cheese courses alongside her daughter and The Cook’s Atelier co-owner Kendall since she moved to France years ago.
Here, Kendall and Marjorie explain the ins and outs of enjoying cheese like the French do.
“In France, the dining experience always begins with apéritif which sometimes includes charcuterie such as saucisson, rillettes, or a homemade pâté. The cheese is always saved for the end of the meal, just before dessert. You would never serve cheese as an appetizer as the French consider it much too heavy to begin the meal. However, for a quick cook’s lunch, we love to serve a lovely cheese board with a big green salad and a nice bottle of Pinot Noir.”
“Wine with cheese is a match made in heaven. In France, you’d never serve cheese without the appropriate wine. Although it’s popular now to serve white wine with cheese, we are a bit old-fashioned and prefer the classic pairing of a great bottle of red (preferably Pinot Noir) with our cheese course.”
“During our traditional ‘long French lunch,’ each course is accompanied by a specific wine pairing. We begin the dinner with a glass of chilled Champagne, continue with white wine and lighter reds, before opening that special bottle of Ladoix 1er Cru to enjoy with the final cheese course.”
“At The Cook’s Atelier, the cheese course is really a big part of the experience. We always serve cheese at room temperature with the appropriate cheese knife, a crusty baguette and a pedestal of fresh, seasonal fruit such as cherries, apricots or pears. Depending on the number of guests and the number of cheeses you have, we like to serve it on a large vintage wooden board or, for smaller groups, we serve our cheese course in a vintage cheese cloche.”
See more of our day spent with The Cook’s Atelier below.