Anyone who knows me, even a little, knows how much I love cheese. Even before I lived in France, my love affair with cheese had already begun. It was just, well, a bit limited. I’d mostly eaten English cheddar, English stilton and a variety of Italian cheeses from Waitrosz. I didn’t realise how much cheese France had to offer, and how much more serious my relationship with cheese would get.
So just how many cheeses are there in France?
France has so many cheeses that people can’t even agree on a final count. The Ministry of Agriculture says it’s over 3000. The “Guide to Raw Cheeses” published every year puts it at 1600 and Charles De Gaulle famously pegged it at 365. Whatever the true figure is, I think the most important thing to take away from these numbers is that there are enough cheeses in France to taste a different one every single day for a year. And that’s a heck of a lot of cheese.
So when I heard about Le Cheese Geek from it’s fondateur Fabrice, I jumped at the chance to learn more. Fabrice originally studied finance and after working in this field for a while, he decided to quit his job and follow his cheese dreams. He now runs classes in his gorgeous space La cheese room in Belleville.
Bienvenue à La Cheese Room
After arriving at the cheese room, the cheese geeks were waiting to welcome us. The cheese board of dreams sat on the table, the Camembert de Normandie already oozing out of the rind, just waiting to be devoured. As soon as Fabrice started speaking, his love for cheese quickly became evident. Next, we were given a “Tasting Book” where we could make notes about the cheeses. The book also has a wheel of aromas (I had no idea there were so many), a map of France’s cheeses and the 6-steps of cheese making. There are a few more things in the book but I’ll let you discover those when you take a class!
So what did I want to get out of this class?
At the start of the class, Fabrice asked us why we wanted to learn more about cheese. Personally, I wanted to learn more about pairing. I know which cheeses I should serve at a party but I struggle to choose good pairings. For example, I never know which wine, juice, jam or bread to serve. As you can imagine, after 9 years in France, I have a strong desire to be the queen of dinner parties. Fabrice’s class definitely helped with that!
We tried a total of 6 cheeses with different pairings. I won’t go into too much detail as I don’t want to spoil any surprises for you, but my personal favourite was the Saint-Maure de Touraine. It’s a type of goats cheese which they served with honey and white wine (photo below). I was also surprised to learn that certain cheeses can be paired with things like Piment d’Espelette (chilli pepper)! And it’s delicious!
During the tasting we also did an aroma test with blindfolds which was really fun and interesting. We had to decide which of the cheeses was the strongest and explain what kind of tastes and smells they had. I’d never experienced this kind of blind tasting before but it definitely heightened my senses!
So how was the cheese class you may ask?
It was absolutely brilliant! We even did quiz at the end and were all awarded a certificate along with a pair of geeky glasses. The Geeks taught me so much about cheese that evening and they’re clearly so passionate about the work that they do. I’ve done other cheese tastings but this one, with its relaxing ambiance and fun and exciting attitude, knocks all the others out of the race. I could not recommend this tasting more highly so thank you Fabrice!
If you are interested in doing a class with the wonderful Cheese Geeks, use my code MYCHEESE to get a 10-euro discount. You will not regret giving these geeks and their cheeses a chance!
For more information about Le Cheese Geek follow the links below:
Interested in other food related posts? Check out my food tour with Discover walks here.