Saturday, December 25, 2010

Deck the Table with Cheese

I leave for Sablet tomorrow, Christmas; wife Shirley and the rest of the family -- depending upon work schedules -- take off on Sunday and Monday. We decided that I should go early so I could shop and make sure the house is toasty warm when everyone gets there.

One of my first stops will be to pick up a nice assortment of cheese, one or more made from milk of goats, sheep, a blue and one from cow's milk, for a plateau de fromage - cheese platter and others for cooking some wonderful cheesy dishes.

I have to admit, I have started to obsess about the cheese we are going to eat in Sablet. This fixation on cheese started when I read David Lebovitz's post Making Swiss Cheese Fondue and Raclette some weeks back.

Then Sarah in "Sarah in Le Petit Village" wrote I Heart Raclette about eating raclette and then about eating fondue in Sunday is Cheeseday. That was followed by Honey who posted about making tartiflette in her blog "I'm an Outlaw, Not a Hero."

This week David Lebovitz has been at it again writing about how farmers bring their cow's milk to fruitières to make Comté cheese in Comté Cheese Making and ripened in fromageries in Comté Cheese Ripening and Tasting. I was interested to find that Comté cheese is made in a different location than where it is ripened and by different artisans.

And then the above mentioned Sarah had a snow day and she and The Husband and some of her French family decided to gather at Brother-in-Law's and have fondue and raclette in the same meal in It's A Cheese Cheese Cheese World. There has been no shortage of tasty cheese posts to stimulate my appetite for cheese.

Luckily for us, we have a fantastic cheese shop in Vaison-la-Romaine, which is a quick 10 km drive north from where we live in Sablet. Lou Canesteou cheese shop is in the center of Vaison-la-Romaine on a side street off Place Montfort, the town's main square.

The shop is owned by Josiane and Christian Deal. She has been recognized as a Meilleur Ouvrier de France for her cheese knowledge and skill in aging cheese. In addition to her large selection of cheese, the store also carries a good selection of gourmet products such as wines, locally produced saffron, honey, dried mushrooms and olive oil.

Lou Canesteou has many cheeses on display in refrigerated cases and on shelves along the back wall. I always ask Madame Deal to recommend a variety of cheeses and without fail, she chooses cheeses that are perfectly ripened and we love.

I don't think I mentioned it but I am bringing a brand new fondue pot with me in my luggage. We are definitely planning to have a fondue one or two times while we are in Sablet. The question is, where do I find de-natured alcohol for the burner in France?


  1. You'll find the alcohol and anything else you'd ever need chez Brando - or Vaison Ménager as it is called officially - Avenue Marcel Pagnol in Vaison.

  2. Merry Christmas Barbara. Thanks for the information. I didn't consider that but I just became aware of them last fall when we bought a new dishwasher for the house.

    I am headed to the airport shortly. Hopefully, I won't have any problems as I fly through Frankfurt to Lyon before driving to Sablet.

  3. How exciting! I hope your Christmas cheese-feast was a success. I'm sure it was with the likes of Lou Canesteou; sounds like an amazing shop! And thanks for giving us that great tip - yet another reason to take a drive to that side of Provence! Love (love!) cheese myself :)

    I'm heading back to Provence tomorrow & really excited to do some French cooking for the 31st myself. Hope you have a wonderful New Year's!

  4. Hi Tuula. I hope you had a safe trip home to Provence and that you have a wonderful New Year's celebration.

  5. Thanks for the shoutout! I'm a little behind on your blog but slowly catching up. We made fondue just after Christmas this year, and we didn't have any kirsch, so we used eau de vie de poire and it turned out just fine. Were you about to find any alcohol to put in the fondue?

  6. Thanks to Barbara from Cuisine de Provence, I found the alcohol I needed at Vaison Menager plus a bunch more stuff I needed/wanted.

    I personally prefer fondue without the kirsch so exclude that when I make it at home.

    Thanks for checking in my blog.