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I need to finish this today because I leave for Chicago tomorrow for the American Cheese Society conference and it’ll be at least a week until my next entry. Besides, when I get back I’ll have the conference to write about. Those entries will have more text and less pics so tell your browsers not to worry. France is more picture worthy than a bunch of cheese people sitting around talking about cheese.

The last day of my French cheese tour was all about the big cheese. We were in the Jura, home of Comte. Next to Emmenthal, Comte is one of the heaviest cheeses out there. Generally fatter than Swiss Gruyere, Comte wheels are 80-100 lbs. of dense, wide, hard-to-handle cheese.

All hail the Comte maker!

Gruyere and Comte (often called Gruyere de Comte) are basically the same cheese, just made on different sides of the border. A similar ages, the Comte tends to be more moist, buttery and often nuttier. The Swiss Gruyere tends to be sharper, firmer and more pungent and onion-y. Both the Swiss and the French will point to these differences as symbolic of character flaws of the people across the border. But you, you don’t have to choose. You can love them both.

Comte is an awesome cheese, great for any kind of cooking and also good to snack on right off the block. If you don’t know it, and your budget will allow it, substitute it or mix it in with mozzarella in any recipe. Mmmmmmm. And with potatoes? Double mmmmmmm.

Comte is also awesome because of its name control protections. It must be made with cooperative milk. Villages all have small cheese making facilities called fruitieries where all the milk from the area goes so that they can make such big wheels of cheese. The one I visited only makes about 12-15 wheels a day. The name control also limits the amount of cheese individual fruitieres can make, keeping large scale international agri-business out of the picture so far.

After the cheeses age a week or two they are transferred to a centralized aging facility. The one I visited was in a rehabbed military fort that Napolean designed to keep the people who brine Gruyere on their side of the border. Fort Des Rousses was decommissioned when France stopped compulsory military service and is now the home of 50,000 or so wheels of Comte.

It’s a lot of Comte

First we went to the fruitiere to watch the cheese getting made.

Ever wondered what rennet looks like? )

Here’s some baby Comte, about a week old, still at the Fruitiere. Look at the bend!

Fort des Rousses is one of the main places where the Comte is aged

See, it really was a fort! (and many other pics) )

I was lucky to quickly get out my camera and snap this picture. He you can clearly see the difference between the color of cheese from the Summer where the cows are grazing (yellow) and the winter where they are not (white). It’s all yummy, but the yellower the better (all other things being equal)

Mostly, we saw and tasted a lot of Comte. Look at all of it!

50,000! And there are trying to expand capacity.

That’s a lot of Comte. I didn't want to leave the cave. I didn't want to leave France. Of course as soon as we boarded our plane in Geneva the Swiss woman sitting next to us was appalled we hadn't visited any Swiss Gruyere producers. "It's so much better than Comte. Comte is too mild. It's ok for children, I guess," she said. At least she didn't get into the brining issue.
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The last two nights of our trip were the only days we spent in the same hotel. The Hotel Arbez is half in France and half in Switzerland and it may have been my favorite place to stay. They let us watch (France fail miserably in) the Euro Cup, they let us have a birthday party for on of our group, and they didn’t seem to mind that we got really, really drunk.

Check it out. This place was worth the nausea-inducing ride to get there!

Look, here’s the border )
I slept in Switzerland.

French/Swiss unity! (Don’t bring up the issue of hand-salting vs. brining Gruyere)

Our last meal: Morbiflette
It looks awesome but it was actually the worst meal we had in France. It was at a rustic inn that we had to hike into and it seemed like it would be awesome. However, it was filled with loud French bikers and the waiter had a mental breakdown while we were there which including screaming and throwing plates. I think it would have been even more frightening if I spoke French.

Or maybe not. Maybe he was just embarrassed, as a Frenchman, about the Euro Cup.
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After eating frog legs, the rest of the group wanted to go to the hotel (bar) so Molly Mc40 and I got a special tour of the Tournette aging “caves”. Like most “caves” this was a well-designed, temperature-controlled warehouse in an industrial park.

It was here that we got to see our first cheese-flipping robot. )

Look at all the Tomme de Abondance! I love this underrated cheese!

Lots of Gruyere de Savoie too!

Cheese is just so damn pretty!


So let’s try some!
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Typical mid-day Degustation
Amusingly enough, they made a big deal out of us tasting the real Reblochon and the Fleur des Alpes, a US-legal pasteurized version. They had us taste them both and whisper into the ear of a French person. Clearly they were hoping to fool us. No luck. Every single one of us guessed which was which.

And here was our lunch. We knew they had something planned when they wouldn’t tell us what we were eating. It wasn’t that hard to figure out though.

Sandwiches were in here!

Mystery food!


Mousse in tilty cup!


Need another hint

Did any of you folks read “Plop” as children? I think the story I remember was called “The Gourmet”. If you know it, you’ll know why I couldn’t get it out of my head as I ate.
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Besides Tome des Bauges, the same cheese plant also makes Gruyere de Savoie. Well, they can’t call it that anymore due to “Gruyere” name control reasons, but these are still a traditional Savoie thing, 80-90 lb. alpine monster cheeses shaped more like Beaufort than Comte.

These are some hot and steamy photos! All proteolytic action!

Curd shower!

Hot curd waterfall steamy group action!

Fresh Gruyere de Savoie

Fresh gruyeres

It’s getting hott in here!

We’ll have aging cave photos later! Just hold on. Because those are the real cheese pr0n money shots!
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Our next stop on the French cheese tour was the Savoie. Probably best known for Tomme de Savoie, it’s a beautiful part of France full of Mountains and lushness and the happy cows that California mostly just pretends to have. I do think there’s a limit to our abilities to measure the happiness of dairy animals, but if cows can be said to be happy, then wandering around with a few friends in big grassy fields an awesome mountain views should qualify.

After a nausea-inducing fast ride through the mountains we arrived at La Tournette. This is the house that the Sales Manager grew up in. It’s a cheese factory now, but after the tour, he showed us where the kitchen used to be and where he lived. Nice place to grow up, eh?

Tomme de Savoie is a much asked-for cheese at our store, but one which has a problem getting here in good condition. It shouldn’t, mind you, because it is a cheese built to be able to withstand some temp and transit issues, but many distributors buy too much, and demand isn’t quite high enough (at least in the Bay Area) so I try to buy fresh stock until it seems old and then not carry it while the distributor sells off that batch. Like Cantal, Tomme de Savoie gets fishy when it’s old.

Tome des Bauges is a relatively newly name-controlled cheese, similar looking to Tomme de Savoie and from the same general area but with a fattier, bigger flavor. Raw milk, made in copper vats, from local breeds of cows that pasture all summer… Good stuff. The best thing is that right now no one is distributing it here so when I special order it, I know my batch will be in good shape. It also has less makers and stricter controls than Tomme de Savoie, so hopefully there will be less variation between producers. If you feel like scrolling down and downloading a PDF, there’s an interesting case study on the action farmers and producers took to make Tome des Bauges a protected designation cheese here.

Tome des Bauges

Copper vats! (corrected)

clicky clicky for a lot more pics including me flipping cheese and the steps in cheese production! )

Aging and furry!
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My book Cheesemonger: (really clever subtitle goes here) will be published in April 2009 by Macadam/Cage. Memoir, food politics, and cheese, oh yeah.

Yes, I have been keeping this a secret writing project for the most part. But if you wondered why I haven’t visited your city in awhile or why my LJ appearances have been sporadic over the last two years, well, I was writing a book.

I will give you plenty of chances to buy it when it’s closer to the release date and might hit you up to crash on your couch if I’m reading in your town, but for now I just wanted to let you all know. This book germinated from some things I originally did for LJ so most of all I just wanted to say thanks for paying attention to a random blog on the internet! Ha! Whoo-hoo! Heeeeeee.

*Many people helped me with this (my co-workers for inspiring me and covering for me, a number of friends who gave input on particular sections, [livejournal.com profile] beelavender for introducing me to my agent, [livejournal.com profile] smallstages for massive editing help...), but over a year ago [livejournal.com profile] nihilistic_kid gave me some really good input on the first 50 pages or so. Nick is trying to fund a move across country right now so if you’re a writer working on a project, and you want some reality-based professional criticism, you should check out Uncle Nick's Crazy-Ass Critique Service!. Fast and honest!
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Our last really long drive was from Roquefort to Aix-les-Bains. We amused ourselves in the car by playing that game where someone names a celebrity (say Brillat Savarin) then the next person names another celebrity whose first name starts with the same letter as the first celebrity’s last name (in this case “S”). We played for about 6 hours.

The only memorable part of this is that when someone said, “Vanessa Williams” Molly, a true grown-in-the–East-Bay-hip-hop kid, yelled out, with a moment’s hesitation,
“Vanessa with the singing career or the X-rated video queen?”
(Know what I mean?)

Aix-les-Bains is a spa town and we stayed in our only real fancy-schmancy hotel. Unfortunately the indoor pool closed just after we got there and besides eating, we weren’t there very long.
Long enough for food porn though!

Reblochon ravioli

ocean fish and lake fish unity

my neighbor’s lobster (at this point in the trip we were all sharing everything!)
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Just pictures today. They are too good not to share!

In France, Even “wear a hairnet” signs are hott:

The local custom of brining Roquefort in a local stream*

What cave would be complete without a tasting room?

It’s not really a family-run business if there aren’t kids’ drawings somewhere:

Here’s Gabriel and me:

*it’s a fountain at the Coulet factory not real cheese. Duh.
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It’s corny but true that since my early days of cheese selling, fourteen-ish years ago, I’ve always wanted to visit the Roquefort caves. It’s one of the great symbols of cheese. Natural caves, indigenous mold, accidental discovery, the wonder that someone would be the first to put something like blue cheese in their mouths… it’s all there.


It’s also a symbol for American blue cheese makers. I have heard many the (apocryphal) story about someone’s granddad going to the Roquefort caves and stealing the culture off the walls so that they could bring the secret ingredient home. Now one buys their Penicilium Roqueferti from a culture house, but the romance lives on.

Roquefort was France’s first name-controlled cheese, i.e. in such a cheese-centric culture as France, it was recognized that the name Roquefort was so special that it had to be protected from imitators. It developed in relative isolation in a valley with natural caves and “fleurine”, crevices that let the caves breathe, yet not so much that the caves would be sensitive to temperature changes from weather. They are perfect environments for cheese aging, the reason why so many people will lie to consumers about their caaaaaaaaves in today’s dynamic retail environment.

We visited the Gabriel Coulet Roquefort* factory and cave.
Gabriel cuts an imposing figure on the Roquefort landscape:

Coulet is my favorite Roquefort. It’s aged longer than other Roqueforts and, the “Petit Cave” at least, has bluing all the way to the rind. They are also still a family business owned by the family that still lives right above the cave. Currently they’re on their 5th generation and raising a 6th.

See? )

Here are some caves:

and a spooky empty cave )

Here’s a whole lot of aging Roquefort )

Every wheel is cut and graded. Some of the best never leaves Roquefort. The best of what is sold to outsiders is the “Petit Cave” brand that has the orange label (and which is the one we sell). Here’s a Petit Cave Roquefort chosen because of its bluing right up to the rind

Here’s the packaging difference. Only about 1/3 made is Petit Cave.

and lastly, here’s Molly and me in front of mural where I stupidly forgot to hold up my wine glass. )

Then we went to lunch where I neglected to take pictures on my food but did get a shot of the Roquefort tasting. How many kinds of Roquefort can you count?

After our tour we got to go upstairs, drink champagne and sing happy birthday to one of the owner’s sons. Awwwww.

*I find badly translated websites tres endearing. “The fourth generation… knew how to conquest over the years the hart and the papillae of lovers of Roquefort from France and abroad expanding strongly sales in the world.
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Here I was in France in June 2008, 40 years after a general strike that almost took down the French government. Paris ’68 is, like the Spanish Revolution of 1936, an important moment for anarchist study, at least to those of us who grew up when the USSR still existed. It was another time when Stalinists actively worked to defeat more revolutionary organizations.* Certainly there are fair criticisms of whether the events in Paris constituted a revolutionary moment, but it sure was something. Student strikes and arrests led to wildcat strikes by workers. Paris was shut down. Degaulle and the Communist Party eventually collaborated on a plebiscite that ended the striking.**

In college, a now semi-famous friend of mine had to watch a movie for class about the Events of May. She had missed the class where it was shown so she arranged a screening in a University movie lab where she invited all of her activist friends. We watched another documentary first called “The Riotmakers”, a clumsy right wing scare film about Civil Rights activists who would come to your door armed with facts and figures. When we watched the documentary we were primed, cheering the Molotovs and barricades, and booing the police and Stalinists.

We were exhausted when the lights came on. It was then we noticed that another person from our friend’s class had shown up to watch the movie also. He said timidly, but with a good sense of humor, “I guess I’m the only Gaullist in the room.”

I saw a few signs of commemoration of May 1968 but perhaps my timing was off. The most notable being a banner somewhere near Nantes that said, “1968: Social Movement. 2008: Social Death” but not much else.

I tried asking our tour guides but, while they are all very nice, they are all 20-somethings with MBAs. While they, rightly, think certain things in the USA are national embarrassments (lack of healthcare, homelessness etc.) and those things would mark them, as lefty in the US scheme of things, they don’t have much interest in the revolutionary social movements of the ‘60s. In fact, they seemed to find it a little embarrassing when I asked about it.

This was especially apparent when I tried to ask about Jose Bove. Probably its partly because they are used to being mocked about French politics by Americans. Partly it’s because some blame Bove for the high price of Roquefort due to American retaliation. Our guide said, she “appreciated his goals but not his methods”. I said, “Without his methods, I would never have heard about the issues.”

We let it drop. Obviously she was not one of the half million who voted for him for President.

I wanted to spend more time in the “hippie region” of France, but it would probably be best to do that tour with anarchists or political farmers, not MBAs.

*Of course slogans like, “Please leave the Communist Party as clean on leaving as you would like to find it on entering” probably didn’t help endear the Stalinists to the strikers. Nor did “Worker: You are 25, but your union is from the last century.”
**That’s the quick version. Of course it’s more complicated.
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Our longest travel day of the trip was from Paris to Roquefort. It could have been much longer though. I could not believe how far Paris was from Montpellier was when I looked at the map.

I mean, look at this. 764 km traveled by train in 3.5 hours.

Luckily we had wine )

From there we drove another ways to Raspes, a small town right near Roquefort. That was supposed to be a 1.5-hour drive but there was some kind of village festival involving a bull that delayed us an hour or so.

Luckily we had wine )

Near Roquefort, we started seeing anti-GMO signs on the farms and our tour guide informed us (not in these exact words) that we were in the hippie area of France. This is not only the region of Roquefort but also the region of Jose Bove. Bove is not allowed in the U.S. because of his politics, and his role in the dismantling of a McDonalds that was about to open in France. Bove is a sheep farmer as well as an activist, selling his milk to Roquefort producers as well as making his own cheese.

I tried to find out which Roquefort company he sells his milk to (or indeed, if he still does) but my tour guides weren’t as big Bove fans as I was. The McDonalds dismantling was part of a campaign against France accepting US beef because of the use of hormones by American cattle farmers. This lead to a retaliatory tariff on Roquefort cheese, one of the reasons it’s so expensive in the US these days. I don’t have much hope for the scale of change we will see with President Obama, but maybe he can fix that.

We arrived in Raspes which is just about the cutest French village you can imagine. We had 15 minutes to settle in and then met with the owner of Gabriel Coulet Roquefort for dinner. I know you’ve wanted more food porn, so here it is.

Salad (highlight: puff pastry with Roquefort-based filling!):

Lamb (heh, we’re in sheep country. bah.):

Dessert (omg I love dessert):

Afterwards we were so full we walked through the town for an hour. Evidently in July and August it’s a huge tourist destination, but tonight we had it pretty much to ourselves.

Raspes at night:

Raspes in the morning:


The cuteness!
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Curd Hammock:

Kirk Hammett:

You don’t have to choose one; you can love both.
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We were told there would be a surprise in Paris. The last surprise we were promised turned out to be the meal at Chez Roger, so we were pretty excited. What would it be?

Cruising around the Seine on a tour boat while drinking champagne!
Touristy but awesome. I had never been to Paris before and it was amazing to see all the huge beautiful buildings and all the Parisians sunning themselves. I was too busy drinking to take pictures, sorry.

Then we went to an 11 PM dinner where I had five kinds of fish as my main course. At Le Pere Claude.

The next morning, after sleeping in for the only time on the trip, Molly Mc40 and I walked around Paris, finding our way to Pascal Beillevaire’s first cheese shop. We tasted some cheese. Molly chatted in French and I smiled like an idiot. I mourned the inability we have to get most of my favorites into the US.

Like the Cathare. So good.

Unfortunately, wires had been crossed and another Beillevaire shop had set up a tasting of 20 cheeses for us that Molly and I missed. Luckily I had tasted most of them before in the US. Still I only wish we could sell these cheese even if the exchange rate would make them over $40/lb at this point.


Now, a train to Roquefort!

cheese porn and group shot! )

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Next up was another cooperative, Sevre et Belle . In the heart of France’s goat country, S&B make cheese that a whole lot of you are probably familiar with if you buy the fancy imported stuff. Le Chevrot, St Maure Caprifueille, Le Chabichou du Poitou, and one of the best affordable Bucherons around (Buche Rondin). And they also make butter. Raw milk butter with salt crystals. Awesome, awesome butter.

Smack me with your paddles, Butter Boy!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First we visited a farm with a couple hundred goats. Not only did they have goats though. As pets they had peacocks, pigs, love birds, deer(!), chickens, fish and probably anything else you could name. They all had houses someone had built for them. It was possibly the cutest thing ever. Then they fed us a huge meal in their garden.

The goats? Well, they were Saanens and they were goaty and awesome. See?

The cheese factory was huge )

But everything in it was still hand ladled. Look at all those molds! )

We got to try our hand at ladling the curd into the molds and frankly, it was pathetic. The workers snickered as our curd hills collapsed and we scooped uneven shovels into, and all over, the molds. Clearly they didn’t get too many tours and once they realized almost none of us spoke French they mocked openly.

Here’s an exampled of professionally scooped curd )

Their cheese, while produced in fairly large quantities* is one of the most dependable value-for-money imports because they pack them in boxes, not in plastic and the cheeses can breathe as they travel across the Atlantic. For years, we had problems with the Chrevot and Chabichou (in particular) drying out too much, but over the last year they’ve really figured out how to make the shipping work, and insisted that distributors buy less at one time not sit on huge inventories.

Check out the St. Maure

And still-wet Chevrot, straight outta the mold

I learned that S&B also own the Fontinelle brand. I always wondered where those awesome goat tommes and “morbiers” came from.

I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of the cheese spread they set out for us but it was huge. Every cheese and butter they had, including in both raw and pasteurized versions, was there, at least 30 types. Including that raw, salt-crystalled one again! (love, love, love) Hopefully someone else in the group took a pic because we promised to exchange photos

Also, Sevre et Belle is the only cheese factory I’ve ever seen where women were the majority (that I could see) of warehouse workers. That’s right, this cheese supports working class women. Awesome,

Bonus pics: pigs, wheel barrow of butter, and me )

Then we took a train to Paris!

*They are the 5th or 6th largest goat cheese producer in France but they assure me that they are "number one for the quality", "The Rolls Royce of goat cheese".
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Miraculously unhungover, our professional cheese tour visited our first cheese factories the next day. The Isigny Ste Mere Cooperative has two plants, one where they make their fresh and soft-ripened cheeses: Fromage Frais, Camembert, Brie, Pont Leveque etc. , and another where they make Mimolette and St Paulin.

The soft-ripened Isigny factory was the only fully mechanized plant we visited. Actually, that’s not true. They did have one room, not being used on our visit, where they make hand-ladled Camembert for shops in Paris. But otherwise it is a bigger ripened cheese factory than I thought it was possible to make good cheese in. In fact, because it tastes so good, I had assumed before visiting that it was a much smaller operation. As longtime readers know, I do have a little industrial factory fetish, and though I don’t often choose cheese from large factories, there is something mesmerizing about the precision… Watching the molds scurry across the room to get ladled the requisite five times, the steam gassing out of the release pipes, the Camemberts rotating in perfect unison. It’s all very pretty, a social realist ballet.

So no, I’m not here to bash factory-made cheese. Especially when it’s made by a cooperative that undoubtedly has helped dairy farmers stay on the land more comfortably than we can ever think of in this country. We drove all around, and while I can’t say that I saw even a majority of the co-op farms, there is just nothing like the confinement dairies one can see along I-5.** Also, they make really good cheese. Their soft-ripened cheese is not stabilized (unlike most factory bries) and it actually ripens like brie should. The ones that are illegal to sell in the US are, as you’d expect, better than anything we can get.

Look! Lots of cheese!

The one bone I’d pick with them is that, along with Lactalis, they are pushing to change the A.O.C. definition* of Camembert de Normandie to allow their microfiltered version to bear the name. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fabulous cheese. But I think if one isn’t a purist with name controls, they have the potential to lose all their meaning. Knowing that the co-op farms (with many of the farms going back generations) are still producing the milk makes me a little more sympathetic, but not 100% sympathetic.

One of the best things I tasted, btw, is pretty unavailable in the USA but I will try to get some in around the holidays. This little cheese is a Camembert washed with calvados and covered in bread crumbs. Oh man….

After that, we got back in the van to go to the Mimolette factory. For the record, don’t let the French hear you compare Mimolette to aged gouda/edam.*** It’s orange and sweetens with age but good Mimolette is meatier, denser, and more cheddary, not quite as sweet as a similar aged Dutch cheese.

Look at ‘em brining!

Aging Mimolettes give off a lot of ammonia as they age. This was the most painful aging room of the trip:

It was also the mitiest. If I did my addition correctly, this aging room
produces 13 tons of mite “dust” a year.

That’s what makes the cheese look like this:

After the tours, we were served way too food and cider then got in the van to drive 5 hours to what appeared to be an old castle where we ate more and drank more and eventually fell asleep

Bonus picture! )
*AOC is France’s name-controlled designation. This means that if a cheese bears a certain name, that is must meet requirements for location of production, ingredients, and make process.
**They also were developing a steam-power system to run the plant, using scrap wood from the factory and surrounding farms to heat the water. Awesome.
***even if, as a non-name-controlled cheese, a fair amount of cheese sold as Mimolette may be aged Dutch Edam imported to France and aged.
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In between writing about the cheese places I visited I will be putting in interludes of food porn. I am LJ cutting because I want to post them in their large-sized glory.

Dinner at Chez Roger, Normandy. Click for one of the best meals I ever had )
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Me on the train from the airport to Paris. Doing pretty good for how long I’d been without sleep.

I never felt like I was really an American until I went to London for the first time in 1993. It was then that I realized that while I differ vastly from most Americans politically, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I share many cultural traits with the people of my homeland. After all, I’m relatively loud, ignorant of other cultures and I really like cars (especially when they go boom).* It was a wake up call that even more things than I thought were socially conditioned.

Going to Normandy, the home of Camembert, was a wake up call in a different way. I’d never gone somewhere where Americans were so welcomed and appreciated. That we were there right around June 6 certainly had a lot to do with it, but it wasn’t fakey-fakey kissing up to Americans who they need to buy their cheese, it was a real tears-in-the-eyes sense of history that had the cheesemaker, sales manager, and chef at our restaurant thank us for coming to their part of France and thank us, as Americans, for sacrificing so many lives on June 6 1944.

Our cheese tour group was eight people: Four from a U.S. cheese importer/distributor, three retail buyers and one sub-distributor. Molly Mc40 and I had arrived a day early so we were picked up by our French contacts on Saturday June 7 and went to the airport to collect the rest of the group. From there we drove many hours to Normandy. Though we were there for the cheese, our hosts insisted we make time to visit Pointe du Hoc. It was an eerie memorial. Foxholes and bunkers still remained and I couldn’t help but think that there were still bones under the large blown up pieces of concrete.

I don’t think it was intended this way, but starting the trip this way made tangible the whole “sense of place” concept that underlies the French take on traditional foods. While most of us Americans were all, “Oh yeah, that WWII thing did happen here…” it was still living and breathing 64 years later to the lifelong residents of Normandy we met.

In fact, after the tour we went to dinner at a private restaurant. We had been promised a surprise and this was it, Chez Roger, a place one could only eat if you knew the chef. In the large country home that doubled as the restaurant, it was only our group and a large group of American veterans and relatives of D-Day participants.

We ate one of the best meals of my life and got incredibly drunk on Calvados shots (apple brandy from the region) with the restaurateur. Molly Mc40 danced to Edith Piaf with the French people sitting at the bar. We toasted back and forth with the other table. The chef made people wear funny hats. It was an auspicious first night.

Look, a shot glass full of Calvados!

*Sorry, that song has been in my head for days.

I'm back.

Jun. 16th, 2008 05:47 am
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I got in last night. As you can see by my 5:47 datestamp, I am not back on California time yet. I can't believe it's only been ten days. I did so much, It feels like a month. I'll start writing about it today at some point.

It was awesome.


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