Pierre Brisson of Paroles de Fromagers invited me last week for a cheese tasting. His company Paroles de Fromagers organizes all types of courses including cheese tastings, cheese and wine tastings, cheese making class, visits to cheese farms near Paris, and wine tastings in Beaujolais (Pierre's family has making wine for generations).
The class I attended took place in a cheese-ripening cellar below the Maitre Jouannault cheese shop on rue de Bretagne at the entrance to the Marche des Enfants Rouges. I knew I was in good hands because Maitre Jouannault is one of the best and respected cheese shops in the Marais and I have brought tour clients there frequently to buy and taste cheese.
I was accompanied by a couple from Florida with their grown daughter and Pierre gave us a brief introduction to the cheeses in the cases in the front of the shop plus information about how the cheeses were sorted and the various categories including sheep, goat, and cow cheese.
We were taken to the back of the shop and introduced to the young owners who have taken over from their parents and the young man was in the process of cutting up a humongous wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano, learning it is one of the most difficult cheeses to cut.
Maitre Jouannault is one of the handful of cheese shops in Paris that ages and ripens their own cheeses on the premises,known as affineur. We were escorted to a temperature controlled room of 8°C in the 17th century cellar
Pierre explained the aging process of the cheeses in great detail and also the typical aging time for certain cheeses. We were also told how much milk is used in various cheeses and a giant wheel of Comté weighing 35 kilos used 500 liters of milk! We learned about different types of curds and the aging process including lactic curd, which takes 24 hours, and rennet curd, which only takes 45 minutes.
After the approximate 30-minute lesson we were more than ready to sample the cheeses and Pierre laid out a generous tray of seven varieties. We started with a semi hard outside and soft inside goat cheese from Pelardon in The Alps near Montpellier, which takes about two to three weeks to age. Next up was another goat cheese Saint Nicolas (nothing to do with Santa Claus), and the Abbaye de Citeaux was a strong, pungent soft cow cheese from an abbey near Burgundy that produces only 300 pieces a week. A classic Brie de Meaux never disappoints and the Epoisses, although excellent, was a little on the strong side for me. The 30-month aged Comté was sublime and rated as everyone’s favorite from the tasting.
The most interesting story of the class was about Roquefort. Roquefort is an actual village in the Aveyron region and has natural caves that age the world famous cheese. Pierre explained that 7 cheese manufacturers bought up the entire village and have created almost a monopoly where no one can else can have a house on top of the natural caves of "Roquefort sur Soulzon" or can mature the cheese of Roquefort. We tried a sheep version, Le Vieux Berger, and it was strong and smelly good.
In between the cheeses we sipped a Chardonnay from Saint Veran and a Gamay from Chirouble.
After we finished I felt like I had went to cheese heaven plus the added pleasure of Pierre’s informative and fun lesson.
Cheese shop and ripening cellar
39 rue de Bretagne, 75003
New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotte's professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 195 euros per person (about $240)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday,Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
Click here to sign up for the next class or for more info.
Come experience Eye Prefer Paris live with Eye Prefer Paris Tours, which are 3-hour walking tours I personally lead. Eye Prefer Paris Tours include many of the places I have written about such as small museums & galleries, restaurants, cafes, food markets, secret addresses, fashion & home boutiques, parks and gardens and much more. In addition to my specialty Marais Tour, I also lead tours of Montmartre, St. Germain, Latin Quarter, in addition to Shopping Tours, Gay Tours, Girlfriend Tours, Food Tours, Flea Market Tours, Paris Highlights Tours, and Chocolate & Pastry tours.
Tours start at 225 euros for up to 3 people, and 75 euros for each additional person. I look forward to meeting you on my tours and it will be my pleasure and delight to show you my insiders Paris.
Check it out at www.eyepreferparistours.com
Click here to watch a video of our famous Marais tour