For those who are not aware of my departure to Europe, let me give a brief intro to the subject of this blog. Looking for a way to expand my cheese knowledge for my contribution to the Houston Dairzmaids, maintain my fluency in French (can't let an entire university education go to waste), and fulfill my itch to travel, I bought my plane ticket to France. Three weeks in the land of fromage should be enough time for me to learn as much as I can about the French way of making, aging, and eating cheese. I'll be reporting back often with tales from the trip, but more importantly will return to Lindsey's and my little cheese project with knowledge to better the Houston cheese experience.
First Stop: Paris
My first two days spent in Paris, and in a jet-lag stupor, did not afford any blog-worthy fodder. All I have to report is that my favorite restaurant in Paris with a cheese plate worth telling about has turned into a Euro-Thai restaurant and La Ferme Sainte-Suzanne--a small but recognized cheese shop (fromagerie)--has turned into a Copy Center. Bah! Not to worry. I will return in about a week to hit the Paris streets looking for a fromagerie willing to welcome me a an unpaid worker for a week or so. Onward to the next stop.
Second Stop: Basel, Switzerland
My arrival into Basel, Switzerland is part of my travel companion's interest in architecture, not having much to do with my cheese mission. If there is cheese, though, I will find it!
What a better way to satisfy your late-night bar munchies than with a steaming pot of fondue.
Yes, I ordered this lovely pot of boiling swiss cheese in a smoky hotel bar sitting next to an elderly Swiss man doting on his little dog Cindy. (And no! Cindy cannot have any fondue.) I never would have imagined that a bar such as this would not only serve fondue, but also take such pride in serving it. As I dipped my fondue-forked cube of bread in the bubbling creaminess, I asked about the ingredients of the dish. In a sort of German-French, the bartender explained that it contained only Swiss Gruyere cheese, white wine, and kirsch. This third ingredient baffled me a bit as I do not know what kirsch is and had never heard of it being an ingredient in fondue. Unfortunately, the bartender did not have the French to explain kirsch to me, so perhaps, you, dear reader, can enlighten me. When I return to French soil tomorrow, I'll be sure to ask someone to further explain traditional fondue ingredients.
For all you Raclette lovers, here's something to try: hash browns layered with ham, heaping slices of Raclette, and finally topped with a fried egg. Tried this one in a Basel bierhalle, on receommendation from the friendliest cab driver I've ever met.