What is your 'must put' cheese on the cheese tray?

Hi everyone !

Just wondering…I was organizing a special lunch for my son’s 'Profession de Foi" and needed to buy the cheeses for the cheese tray. I am not a big cheese eater, and feel a bit lapse in this area, so I wasn’t sure if there were any 'must have cheeses on the tray. Any certain ‘must have’ that YOU must have on your tray? Would love some ideas for the next lunch. Merci ! Mary

Carol. In India I have been spoiled, I have eaten with poor families up to the great honour of Vishala near Ahmedabad where Madhur Jaffrey made a whole BBC programme that I had seen before and when I got there... I do not like conventional curry, madras, vindaloo type restaurants which is about what one gets in France generally but prefer regional restaurants of the type in London and other English cities where Keralan and real Bengali food are served. Having worked in Viet Nam for several years and certainly spending a lot of time in the biggest cities I know the food all too well. I have as yet to find half way decent Viet food. Yet, I find it ironic that we can (and do) buy all the best ingredients at Grand Frais in Bergerac. Yep, as you say 'pappy copies' of all and also go with Steve H on 'piquant as a polo mint' as the French limit - which begs the question what do they actually do with all those chilis on sale at markets and many supermarkets? Nice necklaces perhaps?

I use Grand Frais too Carol and I can get most Asian ingredients there including good Pak Choi and Choi Sum when in season. I grow my own lemon grass, coriander and hot chillies but it's one of the few places that I know of where you can buy fresh tamarind pods. I agree re Asian restaurants though and one place we head to when we're back in London or Dorset. After twenty years living in Asia I really miss authentic Eastern cuisine and don't always feel like cooking it myself!

you are probably right Steve....but the Indian meals we get locally in the UK are pretty good compared to what we ate in India....what we get in Eymet is a million miles away..in fact someone saw the bottles of UK Indian sauces...about 4 different sauces...and the ingredients, fish, lamb, beef would taste the same as the sauces were no different! In the provinces...we dont get good Indian, Chinese, Italian, Viet food....all slightly pappy copies. I can, and regulary do manage to do better at home. I think the French are not keen on change...they seem to like same old, same old.

Paris Store in Lyon not only has a wide range, they are actually very cheap. For anyone getting through a lot of rice, it's the place to go.

On my last visit I picked up 250 pairs of wooden chopsticks for about 6€ as they didn't have any reusable ones

I'm not convinced that is the explanation. Check out "Paris Store" a chain of chinese/asian warehouses which outclasses any such place I've found in UK, lots of weird veg grown on Mars, evil bottles from Hogwarts and so on. And for Indian, yer bog standard Indian in UK isn't really the place to go for sparkling fresh ingredients, it's lentilly things, spices, ghee then well, aubergine, cabbage, spuds, cauli, all no problem.

My OH who has actually spent time (years?) in India reckons one restaurant we've been to isn't miles away from what you might get in India, but so far, outside Paris (alongside Gare du Nord, just before boarding Eurostar), well to me they are uniformly hopeless. Catering for French palates is the real explanation I fear (as piquant as a polo mint for a start)

You are bang on correct Brian. There is a new Indian restaurant in Eymet apparently....the last one wasnt great...havent tried the Chinese..but not heard great things...the Italian restaurants mediocre but popular due to ambience.....I can say, hand on heart, in Newbury we have some stonking restaurants...far more than I can count here...though there are perhaps 4 goodies within a 15 minute drive of us in Eymet..

I use the Asian shop in Bergerac, same road as Lidl and Grande Frais, which sells fab Asian ingredients as well....actually, when we lived in the Languedoc and shopped at the huge Carrefour just south of Perpignan, the choice of ingredient were enormous...far more than we have here...but then the Dordogne isnt exactly the centre of anything!

A friend brought some back for us...and you are right Bruce...we ate some about 9 months after they bought it and it was fine....I also enjoy the fruity cheese mix...

Love all these comments…It is an important topic :slight_smile:

The by-product of the lack of non-French basic ingredients is awful 'foreign' food. The Indian restaurants in Eymet and Bergerac respectively are awful, most Chinese mediocre, even Italian tends to be very limited in scope. We give French guests food from all round the world, Peruvian ceviche, Thai kaeng phet pet yang, real Indian dishes, proper Italian food without pasta or being pizza, English, Scots, whatever we know to do. They lap it up. Cheeses from all over score high and friends request (discretely) certain ones when invited or tell us what to take for one of those bring-your-own apero sessions that lasts six hours or more...

Suzy our supermarkets in Bergerac sell Cathedral City and another well known Cheddar brand, not exactly farm fresh, but tasty sharp Cheddar. The UK has a different attitude to the provision of foods. I believe in France there is an attitude amongst many supermarkets of eating French..they do not enjoy providing food from other countries...there are good arguments for this...food miles etc. But in the UK Ive always seen a goodly provision of all foods...as a child I lived in a Jewish area of London...and our local Tesco's and Sainsburys back in the 60s and 70s provided for the local Jewish population. My mother was amazed on moving to Sussex to find the local Tesco did not supply Matzo's and Potato Latkes. My present supermarkets in Newbury provide for the local Asian and Polish population with whole aisles specifically catering for their foods.

I agree with you Carol,why do we have to eat only french food because we live here and I get so tired of hearing the same old story.I love french cheese but I enjoy a nice piece of lancashire,or white stilton. I feel so sad when I see the pathetic lump of orange soap they sell as cheddar in our supermarkets here.It doesnt help at all the bad image French people have of our food.We have a local fromagerie who sells blue stilton,which sells very well,but SO expensive. The thing is in the UK there is the choice,and I'm sure the French living there dont shy away from the camembert because they should only eat local food.

Guess thats one of the few points in favour of being in Europe! we get to eat the original cheeses ...which are imported and exported without a problem....my point really was that living in a particular country wouldnt persuade me to eat nothing but their cuisine and products...Ive enjoyed nearly 60 years of constantly improving UK food imports and wouldnt reduce my choices because I have moved to France.

Carol, In the US in particular, you may not be eating the same version of a given cheese as you would find where it originates. I was horrified at the ultra-salty, rather crumbly Gorgonzola I was given at a good quality Italian restaurant in New York. It wasn't a patch on the much creamier version available around here, just the other side of the Alps from its home soil.

They said that this is because of US food import regulations, and that Gorgonzola hadn't been allowed in at all until just a few years ago! When I checked this out in some good cheese shops there, they told a similar story.

...but when in the UK or the States surely we eat all the different types of cheeses from all the different countries? when in the UK I eat out at French, Spanish, Indian, Italian, Polish restaurants...and many more...I eat cheeses from all over the planet....the UK actually has more cheese types than France according to some articles Ive read recently......there is no need to only eat from the country you live in anymore...personally I enjoy the diversification.

We love Membrillo with cheese. It’s a Spanish quince jelly. If you’ve got access to any quinces, give it a go. It’ll also keep quite indefinitely, in your fridge.


Thanks for your message...great tips. I just love cheddar-it comes from growing up on it in the states. Can't stop importing it , even if I promote local eating as much as possible.

presentation counts for a lot (in my book).

fantastic...going to check out your blog tomorrow!

learning a lot...love this story about the AOC Bleu de Gex!