On party platters, American cheese is often served in square chunks. For French cheese, this presentation just doesn’t cut it. It’s one of the many areas that the French Cheese Board, a new concept in Nolita, hopes to remedy.
This is not your average cheese shop, however. The venue does curate some of the best French cheeses, out of the 1,000 types currently being made in France today. But it also brings an artistic and educational dimension.
Currently, an exhibition of photographs shows edible sculptures from various French cheeses, cut and carved in different styles. In the piece titled “Revolution,” comté cheese is fashioned into a staircase inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s sketches for a central staircase for Chambord castle. In “Accumulation,” 40 gaperons—cheese balls made of raw milk—are stacked to resemble croquembouche, a stacked pyramid of choux pastry balls traditionally served at weddings.
On the walls, magnetic white-on-black graphics show a map of France where different cheeses hail. Some graphics also detail how to cut different cheeses. Many cheeses, for example, would be cut to include part of both the core and the rind, ensuring that everyone can get the full experience.
“Cheese itself is all about sharing, and it’s reflective of French culture,” noted Hubert Cosico, who recently moved from Paris to work at the French Cheese Board.
The venue hosts weekly events, including some beverage pairings; Cosico is open to event suggestions. He recently paired cheeses for someone with yerba maté, the rather robust, bitter South American beverage and is pairing cheeses with sakes for an upcoming private event.
Customers get advice on food pairings as well. For example, Cosico recommends pairing comté with apricot, and camembert with cold pear jam. For roquefort, he found some crème de marrons (sweet chestnut paste), which enhanced the sweet, nutty notes of the cheese to perfection.
For the studious, there is a small library of all things cheese. A selection of jams, chutneys, honeys, as well cheese accessories are available for purchase.
French Cheese Board
41 Spring St. (between Mulberry & Mott streets)
Open daily, 11 a.m.–8 p.m.