Working for a big, huge, financial corporation has some perks. One of these came last week in the form of a clients’ event to which I was invited and which I gladly accepted. It was going to be held in Marylebone, at La Fromagerie. I follow them on Twitter and I had heard about the venue, the products and the events they host so I was very keen to try it out especially if I was not even going to pay for it.
In the words of the owner (Patricia Michelson), it was ‘an autumnal tasting journey as we venture from the tip of the South West coast of France through the Midi Pyrenees and Rhone Alpes as we venture over the mountains through the Haut Jura into the northern Italian regions of Aosta, Lombardy & the Veneto finishing in Piedmont for a decadent selection of dolce paired with local dessert wines’.
Stupidly enough, I decided I did not want to risk making a fool of my chatty self in front of very important people (clients and bosses alike) so I proudly rode my scooter there to avoid the temptation of drinking. Silly, very silly, as the wines on offer were interesting and the company actually quite good.
After a brief introduction, we were invited to check the ‘tasting stations’ around the venue. The venue was packed, and I found it quite tricky to get to the tasting very easily however the staff were great as they were also handing out really good canapes throughout the evening. I loved particularly the bresaola with truffle at the Northern Italy tasting station, the crunchy parmesan slices and the goat’s cheese and roasted pumpkin bites. This station was actually my favourite because it had the widest variety of cheeses in my opinion. Taleggio di Valbrembana was quite strong, which was good as sometimes this type of cheese can be a little bland; my favourite cheese was Sant’Andrea from Friuli, a hard cheese made with “skimmed cow’s milk cheese using both pasteurised and unpasteurised milk, with a semi-hard pate and a hard golden crust which has been washed and brushed”. I could have eaten a ton of it, but not wanting to appear too greedy or famished, I refrained from doing so. Gorgonzola (from Piacenza) was light and creamy, presented on dark thin crackers while the Roquefort (Carles, from Rouergue) was a little too intense; personally, as a consumer of blue cheese, I found these were too ‘normal’ for a ‘discovery’ tasting, so I moved swiftly on to different options.
Vacherin du Mont D’Or
On the other side of the room, the Haute Savoie tasting station had two cheeses on offer, paired by a regional white wine (Chignin La Marechale) of which I enjoyed a sip, but frankly, I did concentrate on the cheese more than the wine given my ‘riding home safe’ need. The Vacherin du Mont D’Or was very plesant, served on a small slice of white bread and accompanied by gerkin and celeriac remoulade. It was smelly to the right point, soft and gooey and actually pretty good. The raclette was disappointing – maybe too fresh, it did not have the strong flavour I have tasted in the past elsewhere.
Back to the Northern Italy area, I finally tried the neighbouring Pyrenees bunch. These cheeses didn’t really make an impression actually, but partly because it was quite difficult to figure out which one was which due to the busy area. I think the best one for me was Le Gabietout, purely recognised by its description from the tasting note: “Supple textured mixed cow’s and sheep’s milk cheese with a fruity, nutty bite and a smooth chewy texture” .
Of the many red wines, I had a sip of Pinot Nero Marco Donati and really liked it, although I did not share the same enthusiasm of a colleague. Then again, she enjoyed a full glass while silly me only a sip or two!
Dessert canapes were served with coffee and with dessert wines, including a Moscato and a Brachetto, both from Piemonte. Not a fan of sweet wines, I indeed had a taste of Brachetto which had a beautiful rapsberry colour and went very well with slices of cantuccini and chocolate brownie bites.
I also had a browse around the shop during the evening. I am sure it feels a lot more spacious during the day without such a large crowd. Fresh, perk, bright vegetables welcome punters at the main entrance; shelves are stacked with mouth watering products from the most ‘foodies’ corners of the world with a predominance of France of course; pulses, chocolates, coffee, chutneys… the choice is amazing!
The cow – the shop’s symbol
A very good evening, a fun event, and an interesting venue. I will make sure to check out the Fromagerie when I am next in the area and if work pays again, I will make sure I am not riding my scooter next time!