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France 44: Cheese Shop of the Month

July's feature is France44 in Minneapolis!

How/when did your business start?

"France 44 has had a food business since 2001 but the latest iteration has been around since 2008. It’s existence is due to the persistence of the second generation owner who was convinced that his wine and spirits shop needed to have a cheese shop next door to compliment the alcohol business. So when the previous food business (a restaurant) failed in 2007, a small cheese shop was planned as one last ditch effort. 15 years, 3 locations, and 60+ employees later we’re still here."

What's your philosophy/what sets you apart?

"We view food through the lens of conviviality. Most folks are shopping us with the intention of sharing their delicious cheese with people they love. If we make the experience fun and greet them with enthusiasm, then they will convey those good feelings to the people they are sharing with. It’s just food after all, it’s better not to make everything too precious or take ourselves too seriously."

How did you discover/find/hear about our cheeses?

"Your cheese was actually in our opening cheese case back in 2008! Our local distributor was stocking it and suggested we place it in our case. Grayson was different back then. That first wheel had the ooey, gooiest bright orange rind I had ever seen and it smelled deeply of farm and manure. It’s actually one of my most visceral cheese memories. I had very little experience with cheese at the time and I thought “Is this right? Is this cheese supposed to be like this?” And it was delicious, so, yeah, I guess it was."

What's your favorite cheese dish/presentation/or pairing?

"Simple! Bread, tomato, cheese. Take some crusty bread, maybe rub with a little olive oil, slice some ripe cherry tomatoes and lay them across and cover with whatever cheese strikes your fancy. Stick it under the broiler for a few minutes and then off you go."

What have you got coming up in the near future you'd like to share?

"In January 2023 we opened a brand new classroom and even space at our flagship location in Minneapolis. So far we’ve hosted two different cheesemakers (one from Wisconsin and one from Sweden) and are excited to invite many more to come visit our space (hint, hint)"


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