Folk Womens Store, Lambs Conduit Street
In September, Patricia Michelson will bring her world-renowned cheese shop, La Fromagerie to Lamb’s Conduit Street, a stone’s throw from our Folk shops.
How did La Fromagerie start?
I was on a skiing holiday in Meribel and wasn’t having a good day. I lost the party I was skiing with and I ended up in a cheese shop in the village where I picked up a little local cheese, Beaufort Chalet d’Alpage and fell in love with it. I asked for a little more to take home with me, in my bad French, and the next day the owner came up to our chalet with an entire 35kg wheel. I didn’t have the heart to say I only wanted a slice, so I took it home, stored it in my shed, and a business was born. I was an innocent when I started. I loved cheese but I knew nothing of the business. Now I’m about to open a third shop in Bloomsbury.
Why did you choose Lambs Conduit Street?
I love areas that are steeped in history and life, areas that people live in, work in and visit. Lamb’s Conduit Street has all of that. I love the look of the street, you walk down it and feel good, you don’t feel rushed. Plus, how often do you see independents? How often do you walk into a shop and see the owners there every day? That’s what you get in Lambs Conduit. I’ve felt such amazing camaraderie already. People come up and say hello, or knock on the shop and introduce themselves and tell me they can’t wait for us to open. That’s the lost history of shop keeping, that we have sort of forgotten about.
Store interior, La Fromagerie
What cheeses will you be selling?
They’ll change constantly but we will be seasonally led. People often don’t realise that cheese is seasonal, like vegetables and fruit. The whole raison d’etre for us is working with people who make their cheese from milk from their own herd. Depending on where the cheese is coming from, it can be very seasonal. Goats cheeses in particular go in cycles. In spring they’ll taste really sharp and fresh, then later on in the summer the same herd can produce cheese that’s completely different because of what they’re eating. The drier grass and the heat changes the taste of their milk. Right now it’s very zippy. Terroirs is also as important to cheese as it is to wine. They’re both fermented products, rely on soil, they follow a similar bath. That’s why they go together. Acidity in wine and acidity in cheese make them the perfect partners.
Ultimate cheeseboard, La Fromagerie
What do you think of supermarket cheese?
Everything has its place. As long as they do a good, honest job, I don’t mind. Eat a bit of cheese rather than a bar of chocolate, I say.
Which cheeses are overlooked?
America has amazing cheese, believe it or not. People think, hold on, what? Does America have cheese other than in a can? Of course it does. We have started shipping over lots of it to sell. British cheeses are no longer overlooked. There are so many young entrepreneurs in British cheesemaking. They make goat’s cheeses, washed rind, the sticky cheeses, little soft tender cheeses. Honestly, I think it’s never been so good as it is now.
Do you eat cheese every day?
It depends on my mood whether I want soft or hard. Right now, I’m going through a goat’s cheese phase. And a mozzarella one. There’s been a real run on burrata; it used to be the most difficult cheese to sell. I don’t think I sold a box a week years ago and now we sell 30-40 boxes.It’s of the moment but there’s something about the translucent, otherworldly colour of mozzarella that I find so delightful. Burrata is very rich: you can’t eat too much of it. I looked in the fridge last night thinking, I fancy something to eat, and found three different pieces of cheese. I didn’t even remember bringing them home. I’ll always taste a newly opened cheese in the shop. Cheese is very much part of my life.
Patricia Michelson, Owner
52 Lamb's Conduit St
London, WC1N 3LL