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.