Abroad: Toulouse, France

Next stop on my summer tour I ventured to the wonderful city of Toulouse.

Just from word of mouth – I quickly discovered that if you are on the hunt for cheese, you must make an essential stop at Fromagerie Xavier. Located in the Victor Hugo district, it is easily accessible by foot. It is a very busy store. The Cheesemongers provide exceptional customer service and will take care of you and answer all questions that you have. The aroma and visuals of all the cheeses are truly a feast for all your senses.

There is one cheese that got my attention right away. It is the cheese in the first picture above.

It looked like the bark of a tree!

Ardikatza, is a sheep’s milk cheese from the Basque region of France. What makes this cheese unique is that it is aged in barrels covered in ash. It has an intense taste similar to a well aged Parmesan. Lesson of the day, don’t be afraid to try new things!

In the same area, just across the street, is the Marché Victor Hugo. Visualize if you can, a covered market with dozens of stalls. You will find stalls of seafood, meat, vegetables, bakeries, charcuterie, coffee and of course cheese!

There are several different fromageries inside of the Marché. They all serve their own offerings of cheeses from the region. I talked to a couple of mongers about cheeses from California and they all said they would love to carry them someday in the future.

After combing through the market, we picked out a few cheeses. We added a bottle of wine to enjoy.

Where do you go with all this cheese and wine? Take a walk to the River Garonne. Find a spot near the Place La Daurade. Enjoy the beautiful scenery with all the residents of Toulouse.

Abroad: The Cotswolds

Welcome to our Abroad series, where we document our encounters with cheese and cheesemakers on our travels!

Here at the California Cheese Trail, our heart and soul is California. We’re proud of our dairy farmers and cheese makers. That is why we created the Cheese Trail to support them.

But once in awhile, travel takes us to far out places and we encounter cheeses from abroad. Here is our newest series to our blog, where we document our travels!

Our Abroad Series

Hi, I’m Philip. If you don’t know me, I’m the official sidekick here at the California Cheese Trail.

This past summer I had the opportunity to travel to Europe for two weddings. The itinerary included the United Kingdom, Spain and France!

My first stop was the the Cotswolds in the United Kingdom.

As I did some research before the trip I realized there are some great cheeses from the region as well as cheese shops. I made sure to make time to try the local cheeses.

The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is an area in the UK that is famous for its charming and quaint English towns and villages built from golden yellow brown stones. If you are into nature and hiking, you will also find the Cotswold Way National Trail which is a 102 mile long footpath that traverses though the whole area.

Picturesque to cut the story short. Back to cheese.

I was more than excited to find out about the Cotswold Cheese Co. They have several shops in the Cotswolds: Burford, Moreton-in-Marsh, Cheltenham and Stow-on-the-Wold. Founded in 2006, it was acquired by Jon and Lisa Goodchild in 2010. They stock more than 120 different artisan and farmhouse cheeses.

I was able to sample a bunch of the cheeses and took home some “Rollright” from King Stone Dairy (a washed rind soft cheese banded in spruce bark) and Cerney’s “Ash” (a goat cheese hand coated with a oak ash and sea salt mix).

I also learned that there is a cheese named after the region. The Cotswold cheese is a variation of the Double Gloucester which is made from cow’s milk and has chopped onions and chives added to it. It is one of the more popular pub cheeses in England.

There is nothing quite like walking around the town and stopping by the local cheese shop for a snack!

Kim, the cheesemonger at the Stow-in-the-Wold location kindly informed me that there were some local cheesemakers nearby, but unfortunately my schedule didn’t let me fit a visit in. There is always next time!

If you plan on visiting the United Kingdom, I highly recommend spending a couple of days in the Cotswolds.

The area has everything you need for a vacation: great scenery, charming towns and cheese!

Next up on “Abroad”, I head to Spain and the south of France to find more cheese.


A Newbie’s Resources to Learning Cheese

A few handy dandy resources on exploring the cheese world.

My name is Philip and I’m Vivien’s sidekick here at the California Cheese Trail. My journey into the world of cheese started a little under a year ago. I love eating cheese and I also did not really know anything about it.

Here are my go to resources on cheese that helped me in the beginning.

Cowgirl Creamery’s Library of Cheese

The user friendly interface of the Cowgirl Creamery library and the available information on cheeses, especially California cheeses, makes this an invaluable source for discovering the world of Californian cheese.

Whole Foods Market – Guide to Cheese

Whole Foods has a nice little guide to get you started on learning more about cheese. That source, coupled with any cheesemonger at a Whole Foods cheese counter makes learning super easy.

Cutting the Curd Podcast by Heritage Radio Network

I live in Los Angeles. That means I’m always in my car driving. The Cutting the Curd podcast is an essential part of my daily life. You’ll get lots of insights into cheese trends, cheese makers and cheese retailers.

Cheese for Dummies

There are lots of great books on cheese out there. I went to my local LA Public Library branch and decided to start with Cheese for Dummies which was created by the founders of Culture Magazine. Very easy to read which is essential!

Culture: the word on cheese

Great publication on cheese! Lots of insightful interviews and articles on the cheese world.

These are all great, easy to understand resources on starting your journey. My ultimate resource is actually Vivien herself who has an incredible knowledge and insight into everything cheese and dairy!

Please reach out to us here at The California Cheese Trail and sign up for our newsletter down below!

6 Reasons to Visit A Farm


Especially if you love cows, goats & sheep!

Spring is one of the best times to visit a cheesemaker’s farm. You’ll have sunny days and plenty of time to interact with all the hardworking girls who make cheese possible!

On a tour you might see the loafing barns, the milking parlor or the cheese plant. It depends on the farm, so check ahead of time. And you always get tastes of cheese.

Whether cows, goats or sheep, each cheese has its own distinct flavor.

In general, cow’s milk, with larger fat molecules, has an earthy taste. The smaller fat molecules in goat’s milk contribute to a slightly tangier flavor profile. Sheep’s milk has the highest content of fat molecules which leads to a more nutty taste.

Achadinha Cheese by Appointment

Each girl on Achadinha Cheese Co has its own name and personality. You’ll meet William’s Jersey Cow Macy (#77) who has a tendency to walk in front of the cheese plant so she can look at her own reflection in the windows.

garden variety
Garden Variety Cheese by Appointment

At Monkey Flower Ranch, there are over 100 ewes providing milk for Garden Variety Cheese. Each ewe is named after a garden flower and produces milk for about 6 months of the year.

Harley Farms – Open to the Public

In addition all the dairy goats, Harley Farms also has guardian llamas, Anatolian shepherds and Rosie the Donkey. Rosie will look at you with a pleading, hungry face. But resist feeding her!

Long Dream Farm by Appointment

At Long Dream Farm, you’ll catch gorgeous heritage cattle roaming around the farm. They live outside year-round!

Pennyroyal Farm – Open to the Public

Cheese is made seasonally at Pennyroyal Farm. Each cheese is named from Boontling, a unique language that originated from Boonville and the surrounding hills at the end of the 19th century.

Spring Hill Farmstead Cheese by Appointment

At Spring Hill Farmstead Goat Cheese, you’ll find La Mancha dairy goats roaming around the farm.

Use our list of cheesemakers to plan out your next visit to a California cheese maker!