Saying Cheese in French


The tastes of autumn… Fall is a lovely time to stroll through a Paris market and take the opportunity to reconnect with local merchants. Your cheese vendor, wine shop keeper and greengrocer can help you celebrate France’s autumn bounty by pointing out in-season foods that complement each other, such as fruit, cheese and wine.

Knowing what is in season is easier with fruit than with cheese. It is obvious when fruit is ripe for picking but how do we know when a cheese is in season? Christian Lelann, proprietor of three Paris fromageries: La Ferme Saint Aubin, La Cave aux fromages, and La Ferme des Arenes, says: “Like a fruit, a cheese is ripe when it is ready to be enjoyed.” He should know, being devoted to authentic production methods as president of the Chambre de metiers et de l’artisanat de Paris.

Hard cheeses like Beaufort and Comte are made from milk collected in the summer and their production method dictates that they be aged one or two years after the end of the summer when the milk was collected from alpine cows.

Mont d’Or, the soft cheese from the Jura, delicious eaten warm with potatoes, is in season also when its recipe calls for it to be so. This is from September 10 until March. Cheese shops buy Mont d’Or half-ripened from the producer and wait two weeks before selling it, first rubbing it with white wine.

As with fruit, some people prefer cheese less or more ripe. Goats cheese is aged according to the tastes of the fromagerie’s clientele and can be enjoyed in September, but will have more milk flavor in October.

When it comes to selecting cheese and fruit combinations, he recommends simply selecting cheeses and fruits that are at their best in the fall. They are a good match in flavor and texture for cheeses that peak at this time of year.

Creamy Reblochon Fermier cheese from Savoie is also an autumn treat. Varin-Bernier describes its intriguing aromas to include “a delicate perfume of stables with a hint of milk and damp cellar.” Serve this one with a light red. Beaujolais is often paired with Reblochon.Indulge yourself in goat cheeses – either soft and fresh ones or hard, older ones – and complete the taste experience with a dry white wine.

In fall, another fantastic cheese is Munster from Alsace, especially the farmhouse variety. A matured cheese like this will be full of strong flavor with a fruitiness that complements the white wine Gewurztraminer.

And there’s more combination fun to look forward to too, with the release of the Beaujolais Nouveau on the third Thursday of November. When sipping on the 2023 vintage, Georges Duboeuf, the winery that produces the most Beaujolais Nouveau, recommends munching on a young goat cheese.