Marylebone Talks: La Fromagerie
We sat down with Patricia Michelson, founder of London’s favourite cheese store and talked about best picks, how getting lost in the mountains started off her business and her favourite day in Marylebone.
Tell us about the story behind La Fromagerie? Why Cheese?
It all started when I was skiing in Meribel, Savoie, and had a bad ski day and lost the group I was with when the weather suddenly changed and I had a tumble. Rather like an Alice in Wonderland scenario – she fell down a hole – I almost fell down a mountain! I eventually found my way back to the village after many hair raising escapes going off piste etc., and walked past the local cheese shop. I went in for a small piece of cheese and bought the local Beaufort Chalet d’Alpage. It was so delicious I went to the main village market the next day and met the cheesemaker at his stall. I asked, in my very bad French, for some cheese to take home in a few days and he kindly said he would bring it up to the chalet. Well, when he arrived instead of a piece it was a whole cheese! So I squeezed it into the back of my car, drove home and put it in the garden shed. After sending some to a few restaurants they all said they loved the cheese and could I get more….so my business was born! It is now 25 years on and we are still very much in love with the Beaufort cheese.
What a great story! What brought you to Marylebone as one of your locations?
We were approached by the Howard de Walden directors, and asked if we would like to be in Marylebone as they wanted to see independent small businesses mixed in with the bigger names. I was delighted as I grew up not far from the High Street and knew it well.
La Fromagerie Moxon Street, Marylebone
eating trends and dining cultures have changed tremendously. Has this affected you and La Fromagerie?
It is very interesting to see how things have evolved over the years, especially since we opened to Marylebone in 2002, because we introduced a long communal dining table for customers to enjoy a light snack or meal, along with a glass of wine and plate of cheese. We also started the matched cheese and wine boards for later in the day, and smaller dishes for the cooked items and salads – utilizing all the produce on sale in the shop. It was a showcase for what we were selling and how to use it all at home. So perhaps we were forward thinking and started a trend? I have always run the business with the thought of injecting different and more engaging ways of food retail. I love the fact that customers can both shop and also enjoy our produce in-house.
Tell us about the events you hold at La Fromagerie in Marylebone, and any upcoming ones.
We love being able to hold events and tastings, as it gives us the chance of showcasing our produce and talking about it. Our chef, Alessandro, does workshops for a small group where he cooks from scratch dishes and gets everyone involved in chopping or preparing and then at the end they get to have a wonderful meal of the dishes. We also do tutored cheese and wine tastings where we match 5 cheeses to a white wine and then another 5 to a red wine and talk about why the cheeses work well together. We also talk about the wine’s style and its affinity with the cheese and vice versa.
One of our most popular evenings is the Apres Ski Fondue Supper – always fun and we make a wonderful fondue with only alpine cheeses. We have Monday Night Supper which is a pre-booked evening with a menu designed to be seasonal and regional and not too heavy. We also have a Friday night Bar/Cheese highlighting our cheese plates with charcuterie and small dishes with wines by the glass that are interesting and also seldom available by the glass. Coming up will be an early Spring tasting for new season goat cheeses, and we post up the events on our website and send it out to your mailing list every month.
What are your tips for people wanting to buy cheese? And how to enjoy it during the different seasons?
My mantra is not to buy too much. That’s the key; just buy what you need so you don’t have to worry about keeping it too long. Think of the way you choose a wheel of taste and strength. Always start with a light fresh taste like a goat milk cheese, then follow with a flaky lactic one that can be on the creamy side or a little bit crumbly, then a nice fruity hard cheese with some sharpness, followed by a softer richer style that can have its rind brushed with alcohol, or maybe our speciality Truffle Brie we make before finally finishing off with a blue with its rich metallic flavours – 5 cheeses are a good number. Matched this way, you will enjoy each one on its own merits. Some cheeses like the young fresh ones you will want to enjoy if their season has just started, but many cheeses need time to mature so again, look to put them in the right order of strength and richness.
February cheese selection
What is in season now, during the winter months? And what are your pairing suggestions?
The winter months are what we call ‘fuel’ cheeses – ones like Gruyere and Raclette as well as the wonderful Mont d’Or a richly decadent cheese. All these styles are perfect with white wines, with good acidity as they cut through the butteriness of the cheese. Accompany this with raw almonds, cured and dried fruits and sharply sweet apples.
Patricia Michelson, founder of La Fromagerie
How would you spend your perfect day in Marylebone?
Marylebone has many beautiful squares and winding Mews streets to explore. Also, probably the finest open space is Regent’s Park. I often take a walk in the Park before going to my favourite perfume shop H PARFUMER
at 106A Crawford Street, before heading up to Wigmore Street to MARGARET HOWELL
to browse their understated English style clothes. I’ll indulge myself with a wonderful pedicure and manicure at MARGARET DABBS
on New Cavendish Street, before ending my magical day with dinner at DININGS
my favourite Japanese restaurant on 22 Harcourt Street, off Seymour Place.
2-6 Moxon Street
London. W1U 4EW
Tel: 020 7935 0341
Monday – Friday 8.00am-7.30pm
Saturday 9.00am – 7.00pm
Sunday 10.00am – 6.00pm