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Pamela MacNaughtan

For when your week is crap, and you go bankrupt buying cheese.

The town where I attended high school, where my mom and brother still live, is not a place I enjoy. I think of it as a backwards place with awkward memories and a lack of culture. It’s a place I have escaped from multiple times but return to on holidays or when I’m craving quality time with my wee nieces and the rest of my family.

Whenever I’m in town, I don’t venture out. If I want to go out for dinner, I go to the city. Same with any kind of shopping that does not involve basic groceries. How much can a small town change in 10+ years? Turns out, there have been some changes over the last couple years.

I was shocked (yes, shocked) when I drove past a shop called ‘Fromage’ on a quiet street *downtown* (Haha!). Firstly, the sign was using the French word for cheese, and as I remember this town as lacking in culture, that alone was quite surprising. Secondly, there’s a shop dedicated to cheese?! This is something I never thought I would see in town. Another town, maybe, but not this one.

As a turophile, I found a parking spot and practically ran to the door. The shop itself was small, with worn wooden floors, shelves filled with products made by local artisans, a small fridge with homemade meals to-go and two small display cases of cheese.

A. Slice. Of. Heaven.

Run by Christine Patton, Fromage, is a gourmet cheese shop and bistro. The glass cheese case displays selections from across Canada and around the world, and the chalkboards on the wall behind the counter feature a small bistro menu of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, soups and salads.

In other words, it is the local mecca for turophiles.

I Can’t Be Trusted Around Cheese

Exercising self control at Fromage is proving to be a rather difficult task. On my last visit I walked in with the intention of buying a hard salty Stilton and maybe some brie.

I walked out with four different kinds of cheese (including the Stilton) and a small container of locally made garlic butter that will keep Dracula at bay for at least 50 years.

The damage? $75. Yes, I spent SEVENTY-FIVE DOLLARS in a cheese shop without flinching. 

An Impromptu Cheese Board: The Cheesy Line-Up

Chatting cheese with Christine was easily the best part of my day, and the be honest, I was almost sad to leave her shop (although, I’ll be back next week when her order of locally made Burrata cheese arrives!). With Christine’s help, I walked out with a couple of new-to-me cheeses and an eagerness to share them.

Ubriaco di Bufala: A buffalo milk cheese produced in the Veneto Region of Italy. Bathed in Prosecco, this cheese is hard and slightly sharp in flavour. A new favourite.

Stilton: A cow’s milk blue cheese produced in England. It’s hard and a little salty, just the way I like my blue cheese. 

Wildwood: A cow’s milk cheese produced in St. Mary’s, Ontario by a family from Switzerland. It’s hard, smooth and a little nutty, with a natural rind.

Normanville: A cow’s milk cheese produced in the Normandy region of France. It’s soft and creamy, similar to a camembert, with velvety rind and a slight mushroom aroma.

Top left, clockwise: Ubriaco di Bufala, Stilton, Wildwood and Normanville

Carrying my sack of yummy cheese (and garlicky butter), my next stop involved buying boxes of Leslie Stowe crackers (date and pistachio are my favs), a jar of red pepper jelly, pistachios, tiny dried chorizo (this town will never be a charcuterie destination) and some peppermint chocolates.

Québécois friends, if you want to stop talking to me now I completely understand. In my defence, I had very few options available to me (and I have a weakness for cheese and chocolate pairings, with, uh, better chocolate – again, few options!).

I Like Pretty Things, But Sometimes Taste Is More Important

I’m driven by visual pleasures, but sometimes I need to ignore that side of me and say it’s okay to focus on texture and taste and feel instead. My latest cheese board was definitely NOT pretty, but OMG it was delicious. 

Especially the Wildwood and Ubriaco di Bufala. 

Next up: Buratta – my cheese of choice for Christmas (along with a few Québec favourites like Sabot de Blanchette).

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