Now, writing a post about cheese leans towards odd, since I am lactose intolerant/allergic to dairy, with the exception of butter. In fact, I would qualify my allergy as serious. Years ago, when I was traveling in France, I used to comment in a restaurant that I was allergic to dairy and the waitstaff used to look at me in disbelief, as if that was ‘IMPOSSIBLE!’ And, when I would ask them if a particular item on the menu had any dairy in it, I might get an answer like ‘OH, only just a little bit’ as if that would be OK or they simply would say they did not know and then, when I took it a step further and asked them to find out from the chef, they hesitated to take the time to do so. Of course, it would confuse them even more when I said I could tolerate butter and…eggs because people relate eggs with diary.
Now, though, it seems the waitstaff’s training teaches them more about allergies and most often, they get it. In my travels over the last few years, I see that a number of European countries have adopted a coding system that shows either symbols or abbreviations for words, letting a customer know what is included in that particular dish…like ‘G’ for gluten…a welcome addition to the menu for the customer and the waitstaff, especially when there is a language barrier.
I do have a secret though. I can still SMELL cheese. And, not only that, I get pleasure from not only smelling cheese but also LOOKING at cheese.
With that said though, I am missing out on hundreds of cheese tastes that can be placed into 7 different categories such as fresh, soft, hard, blue, etc. This is an article I came across that spells out, more thoroughly, the various categories: https://www.thecheeseweb.com/7-types-of-cheese
So simple but yet so stunning looking with a combined aroma of the cheese but also a bit of lavender smell too.
Shapes and sizes. See the heart-shaped one to the left, second row up from the bottom?
Some people are lactose intolerant of just cow’s milk. Not me! Goat and sheep cheeses, for instance…not any better for me. I believe my lactose intolerance goes beyond just lactose but includes other elements in cheese, milk, yogurt, ice cream, for instance.
These cheeses above are prettied up with raisins, red rouge bits (I am guessing cranberries?) and papaya bits.
Just look at these various line-ups of cheese! If you read about the 7 classifications, you can figure out which is which. But also look more carefully at the 2nd and 3rd row of photos from the top on the left…the peaked ones. There is one of that shape that is called ‘Mont Ventoux’ which is named after the mountain in Provence, very near the village of Bonnieux, where I lived for 8 months several years ago.
The variety seems endless, doesn’t it?
Symbols added to the tops of some of these cheeses are attractive to my eye.
Butter can often be purchased at cheese shops, along with some other items like eggs, wine, crackers, bread, etc. My understanding is this is Jean-Yves Bordier butter and David Lebovitz claims it to be the best. See David’s blog post about butter: https://www.davidlebovitz.com/butter/ AND then the website for Jean Yves Bordier: https://www.lebeurrebordier.com/en/les-points-vente/jean-yves-bordier-creameries/
Some of the egg cartons can be most charming. As you may know, eggs are often not kept in the refrigerator section of a grocery store.
Don’t just eat cheese in France! These 3 photos above are of shops in Amsterdam, Vienna, and Salzburg!
Are you ready for some cheese tasting?
One of the most well-known cheese shops in all of Paris, is in the 7th arrondissement. Unfortunately, they only have a Facebook page. No website. But here is Alec Lobrano’s Paris by Mouth review: http://parisbymouth.com/barthelemy/
AND with the Paris by Mouth review, look at the bottom of the page and you will come across a video. Watch it! It is in English along with French-to-English translation. Whether you are a ‘lover’ of cheese or ‘just a liker’, you will find yourself entertained and gain a little bit more knowledge about the French and the importance they place on cheese.
If you stay on Alec Lobrano’s Paris by Mouth website, you can also see a hearty list of several other well-known cheese shops located in a variety of arrondissements, which will allow you the possibility of finding one near your rental apartment or even for doing a bit of a taste testing in your hotel room! Don’t tell the front desk manager I suggested this! Here: https://parisbymouth.com/shops/cheese-shops/
Along with a wealth of information in the form of reviews on Paris by Mouth, you will see they offer food and wine tours. The tours are on pause now due to COVID, but take a look and keep them in mind for future visits to Paris: https://parisbymouth.com/food-wine-tours/
Please also note that grocery stores have an array of cheeses that they offer and there are smaller shops that carry food supplies including a spread of cheeses. Of course, when dining out, depending on the restaurant, they will often offer a cheese course as either dessert or an added course separate from the dessert course.