When we lived in Larchmont, we’d often get up on Saturday morning and walk to the best cheese shop around.
For some reason, Larchmont, NY has a huge French contingent. The village is only, like, a square mile, yet it’s got a French-American school, one or two French restaurants and this cheese shop. There are many French and Swiss folk, flitting about, speaking and looking very French. Little girls with perfect bobs, moms with scarves tied just so.
The Auray Cheese Shop used to be a modest affair, housed in a tiny, narrow space on the main street where you’d crowd in between the counter and the wall to be waited on, French accents wafting about with the stink of the cheeses. There were also baguettes, pâté, saucisson and fig jam, maybe a sandwich on a weekday. Some Haribo and some Hollywood gum.
It moved a couple of years ago to a much bigger space. It is now ten times the size, with a kitchen. The area with tables is meant to look like a Parisian street, with cobbles, café chairs and even a streetlight. Now, you can get omelettes and crêpes, and sandwiches whenever you want. I couldn’t help but miss the old place. It might just be me, or maybe that in the new place, they put them in the window, but the baguettes were better before they moved. And the long narrow space just seemed more, I don’t know…..better. In the new place, you can't even smell the cheese. It’s now called Auray Gourmet.
Here in Le Marche, there are not an awful lot of opportunities to find non-Italian foodstuffs, so today, we went to a French market set up for the weekend in Ascoli. We laughed with the French girl selling cheese as she gave a cheery “Bon soir” to the Italian nonna sampling the wares but refusing to even glance up in return. We bought baguettes from a girl who spoke Italian and laughed at me when I asked, “…e anche un pretzel.” Maybe pretzels are feminine.
We haven’t been to Paris in almost two years or to Larchmont in almost a year and half, but tonight, we had our NY brunch for dinner, full of things that aren’t normally available in our part of Italy: smelly, raw milk Reblochon de Savoie, Tommette Laious, duck & port pâté. We also got some of the best bread since we’ve moved here, baguettes de tradition. Shhh. Don't tell the Italians.