Jules, and this isn’t a big surprise, absolutely loves local produce. And even more when they are prepared by the best local producers. This is why he braves the steep winding road up to Montmatre to seek out the real gems from Virginie, a local cheese producer whose trade has been passed on from father to daughter.
She has a nurtured her trade in her small store sized 25m2 with its own cellar which she has owned since 1995. As a daughter of cheese makers, Virginie, had started a career as a translator, but turned her back because she had a real passion to continue in her parents’ profession.And she also has a real way of doing things which Jules likes. For example she sells cheeses which are full of flavour and character which she has bought directly from small scale producers, carefully picked and therefore more rarely available. Her range is becoming a more and more refined choice, which is becoming less and less common, despite what some people might claim.
Virginie, just like Jules for that matter, is a real advocate of unpasteurised cheese and seasonal cheeses. Finally the partners agree on a weakness for old local cheeses ’My shop is small, Virginie explains to Jules so I have very particular ideas and I’m a little bit biased. I offer cheeses just like I enjoy them: well refined, with lots of character. I push them as much as possible to show all their flavour and all the variety of local produce. When some of my colleagues are working downstairs I love it when it drips. A small teaspoon of coulommiers makes me laugh even more. So for those cheeses which are always playfully trying to escape their packaging, Virginie offers some very nice containers. Inside she puts some real cutting edge products: very creamy goats cheese, alpine Tommes, or even ‘old beasts’ hay refined Tomme picard, Cantal bleu, Comté matured with dried flowers, pecorino ‘à la myrte’…And of course the essentials. Between the ‘small series’ and those products in season, Jules finds around 100 different varieties which change each week, a bit of farm cream cheese, a radius of very high end charcuterie, bellotas, specks, coppas, chorizo, and even a lardo di colonatta refined in Carrara marble! It is high end, but as Virginie reminds Jules, ‘it takes time, just like weight loss or with cheese which lose their sweetness as they ripen. I buy from small producers who do everything by hand apart from the transportation. I don’t negotiate the prices with them seeing as they earn very little.
When Jules isn’t in the mood for spending, Virginie always has a cheese board for 6 people at 7.50€. And best of all Virginie organises visits to her cellar with tasting, which Jules’ foreign friends love, and she is a real specialist in cheese buffets. Jules takes a lot of ideas home from his visits, like just how to present canapés of Roquefort on gingerbread!
54 rue Damrémont Paris 18, Tuesday to Saturday from 9h30 à 13h et de 16h à 20h and Sunday morning from 10h à 13h Tel 01 46 06 76 54. www.chezvirginie.com.