Wednesday, January 03, 2007
La Fromagerie, or Fancy Cheese in England (from France)
Many years ago, in New York, I had my first Vacherin. At that time, the powers that be didn’t seem to be so nannylike, and, while , not a cakewalk, it was a lot easier to score a Vacherin than crack. Unfortunately, this appears to have changed over the past few years, and, because it is only available seasonally, I have not been able to get it. This changed on my first day in London. I went to La Fromagerie (2-4 Moxon Street London W1U 4EW & 30 Highbury Park London N5 2AA) with my friend from London.
La Fromagerie is like no cheese store I have seen in New York. It consists of a normal fancy food store, selling bread, oil, charcouterie, etc. in the bulk of store space. The cheese shop is located in a climate controlled glass box. Only six customers are permitted in the cheese area at a time, which helps avoid overcrowding and controls temperature. The staff is quite helpful although they seem to have their own agenda. When we asked for a Vacherin, we were asked when we were going to eat it. The staff member then “thumbed” at least 6 pieces of cheese before determining the one that was of suitable ripeness. Neither I nor my friend had ever experienced anyone in New York asking us when we would be eating our cheese to select for proper ripeness. Between us, we have shopped at every major cheese monger in the city. The salesman was also helpful with suggestions when we asked for a sheep milk cheese. I asked if there were any English cheeses we should try and he suggested aged Gouda from Holland. Well, two out of three ain’t bad. The Gouda was fine, and quite pretty compared to similar ones I have eaten in the States. However, I was a bit miffed as I did specifically try to get a British cheese and ended up with this. As I am now on the train to France, I can safely say that I will not be eating any British cheese in Britain. Such is life.
For those of you in New York who fall under the raw milk police, you can buy pasteurized Vacherin. This is made on the same mountain as the French Vacherin but is produced by the Swiss. I know that the FDA says it tastes the same, but having just had the real thing, I don’t believe it either.
PS: although you probably won't be going to this place soon, their website is actually rather good. Take a peek