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Champagne and Fromage

How to entertain the French way with Champagne + Fromage

Time to get those corks popping! Toast.Life chats to Maud Fierobe - champagne importer, champagne events specialist and co-owner of Champagne + Fromage, about her delicious businesses and how to make your next event fizz in true French style!



The sun’s out so that can only mean one thing – it’s time for champagne! Wait – what am I saying?! Come rain, come shine, it’s always time for champagne! Fizz! Bubbles! Champers! Whatever you call it – it is the ultimate drink of sophistication and celebration, and one woman who is familiar with the fabulously fizzy stuff more than most is Maud Fierobe. 

“Champagne is happiness in a bottle!” she beams. “It has been part of our best moments, and it’s special because it takes so long to make a great champagne. And of course, it tastes so special – it’s difficult to explain why!”

In 2008, Maud co-founded the aptly named French Bubbles – a niche importer of ‘grower’ champagne. Often described as ‘artisanal winemaking’ grower champagnes are produced by the same estate that owns the vineyards where the grapes are grown and so they tend to be more terroir-focused, being sourced from a single vineyard or closely located vineyards around a village.

As a French native with a passion for the fizzy stuff, Maud and her marketing expert husband Stefano wanted to bring these authentic, top quality champagnes to the UK at affordable prices. Before long, Maud was looking for somewhere to serve her expanding selection of delicious French bubbles, and perhaps pair it with some other French delicacies… 

“I was organising and tutoring a lot of Champagne events, and when we started to offer a ‘champagne and cheese experience’ people loved it!” she explains. “It was such a success that we thought - why don’t we create a unique bistro and deli where people could enjoy these two magical products?”

The result was of course the appropriately named Champagne + Fromage; a group of stylish bistro-delis that offer rustic fare and fizz, served ‘the French way’. There are now three popular sites in London (Greenwich, Brixton Village and Covent Garden), a spot in the uber cool Mercato Metropolitano in Newington Causeway and a brand-new shiny site due to open any minute now in the beautiful city of Bath. 

“I think we’ve created a great atmosphere by offering our artisan cheese and Champagne in a shabby-chic environment. The menu is affordable, and we love that guests can enjoy fresh, artisan products sourced by ourselves that are imported every week. People often describe our place like a piece of France…I think it’s true” Maud smiles. 

“We really wanted to show to people that Champagne is a wine, especially grower Champagnes. People seem to forget that Champagne is actually one of the oldest wines in France, and I wanted to pair it with food and to show how food-friendly Champagne can be” 

Champfromage

Champagneplusfromage Interior

Working with French farmhouse cheese importer La Normande à Londres, Champagne + Fromage is the destination for authentic French cheese and a glass (or bottle…) of truly delicious French Champagne. La Normande à Londres owner Franck Leblais and his brothers are a family of French cheese specialists, as well as producing it themselves.

Champagne Plus Fromage Board

Champagne And Fromage Boards

Champagne And Fromage Platter

Their delicious selection is served with Maud’s French Bubbles which now comprises of 8 domains and 40 different cuvées, as well as a small selection of Crémant (a French sparkling wine with a gentler fizz that is becoming increasingly à la mode in the UK) as well. Knowledgeable staff take their explaining exactly what you are eating or drinking; where is has come from, how it was made etc., heightening one’s enjoyment of the whole delicious experience – and it is this process that Maud insists is key to serving your gallic gastronomy correctly.  

“Entertaining the French way is having the knowledge of the products that you are serving and sharing it with your guests!" enthuses Maud. “And the stars of the show are of always the Champagne and the cheese!”

INSPIRE ME: ENTERTAINING THE FRENCH WAY

Pop fizz clink

First and foremost, you need to decide how and when you are going to serve the champagne to your lucky guests and there are in fact several options to choose from, as Maud explains. 

“Champagne as an aperitif is the easiest way to serve it. Most Champagnes will do but a safe bet is a classic Brut” she suggests. “The other option is serving Champagne as the wine for your main course. I think this is so classy and it shows your curiosity and your appetite for something unusual and delicious. It is seriously impressive!” she smiles. 

“If you have meat or fish then opt for a Champagne that is mostly chardonnay, and I would recommend a Blanc de Noirs or a rosé with meat” 

“Finally, the other option is to serve the champagne as a deluxe end to your meal. You can choose to have no dessert and instead serve a selection of cheeses with jam and fresh fruit, and Champagne with it! A vintage Champagne would be perfect of course, but you could also serve blend of the 3 grapes as long as it’s not too young”

Glassware

Gorgeous glassware specialists LSA have a vast selection of stunning champagne glasses that are perfect for serving Champagne in style, whether you prefer an elegant flute, delicate coupe or stylish saucer. Prices start at £18. 

 LSA Champagne Flutes

Champagne Flutes

For something special, opt for Soho Home’s chunky Roebling cut crystal coupe, mouth-blown from 24% lead crystal and hand-cut with straight lines inspired by the cables on the Brooklyn Bridge (£32 each). Their crystal Eltham gold rimmed coupes (£75 for 6) and Barwell coupes (£210 for 8) are also stunning and perfect for entertaining a crowd. 

Or you’d prefer to serve your champers with some contemporary flair then you can’t go wrong with Rigby & Mac’s copper-based glass flutes – they look gorgeous when filled with bubbles and are a steal at just £6.95 each. 

Keep it cool - but not too cool

Serving your champagne at just the right temperate is integral according to Maud, and she has some clever tricks up her sleeve for getting it just right.

“If you have your Champagne too chilled you kill the flavours, so do NOT keep it in the fridge!” she insists.  “If you must then put it in the fridge on the morning of your evening event. Or, keep it in a cool, dark place and then 20 minutes before your serving, put it in an ice bucket, or any container really. Fill half of it with ice and then fill up to the top with cold water. Wait 20 minutes and you will have reached the perfect temperature to enjoy your Champagne!”


Coolers

We absolutely love Culinary Concept’s range of absolutely gorgeous champagne coolers, adorned with feathers, stags, luxurious leather handles and more. For real wow factor and perfect for when entertaining a crowd, opt for one of their totally decadent wow factor champagne baths. Ice buckets start at £39.95, champagne baths from £79.95.

Champagne Bath

Wine Coolers


Gallic gastronomy

Forget zee duck a l’orange and zee boeuf bourguignon – for something more informal and modern-day Maud suggests serving French-style sharing dishes and smaller plates with your Champagne. 

“We serve a lot of French tapas. One of my favourites are our tartines which are so tasty - they are basically sourdough bread toasted on one side and the other side is topped with lots of yummy ingredients and a melting cheese, like caramelized pear with a melting cheese called Langres. It’s delicious!” she explains. 

“Also try serving a delicious selection of French cured meat - la charcuterie! Ham and saucisson are so delicious and great for feeding a crowd”

Champagne And Fromage Spread

The Boards

For beautiful serving boards that ooze French rustic charm then visit The Rustic Dish. They have a selection of gorgeous, ethically produced olive wood boards that are perfect for serving all manner of French tapas on, including charcuterie, cheese, crudités and more. Their beautiful boards can all be personalised too. Prices start at £12.

The Rustic Dish

Alternatively, you can hire a selection of beautiful wooden serving planks from Something Hired, starting at just £4 per board. You can find their page in Toast.Life’s Little Black Book.

Something Hired

“Also, our baked camemberts are so popular that we decided to create a selection 12 different camembert options! It’s hard to choose a favourite…! Maybe either the truffle and port, or chorizo and sundried tomatoes. All the flavours work so well with the cheese – your guests will love it! Especially with a glass of Champagne!” 

Camembert Bakers

For ease and for impressive  presentation factor invest in a ceramic camembert baker, which makes it easy to add all manner of ingredients before serving it to your guests in style. For simplicity we love Paxton & Whitfield’s version (£14.50), or for traditional French charm this baker (£17) from the AGA Cookshop  is divine  Speaking of French charm – when it comes to cookware you can’t go wrong Le Creuset and their colourful camembert baker (£35) is top notch. 

AGA Cookshop

Camembert Bakers  

And of course, le fromage!

Cheese and champagne – two delicious French delicacies, but do they really go well together? According to Maud it’s a definite yes, and a heavenly combination that your guests will absolutely love.

“I think 80% of cheeses go better with a white wine than a red wine. Honestly, even in France now the idea of red wine being best with cheese has started to change” she explains.

“You always pair local food with local wine, and mountain wines are white and that’s where a lot cheese comes from. Of course, red wines go well with soft cheese that have a mushroom-y crust like Camembert and Brie, so then if you consider that Champagne is a white wine made with around 70% red grapes – it is basically the perfect match! Fruity and floral, nutty and creamy - all of these descriptions can be given to the cheese and to the champagne as well” she adds.

“To go with your cheese board, choose a classic brut Champagne that is a blend of different grapes; let’s say a third of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier. It will be fruity and creamy and will go definitely the following cheeses;”

Champagne And Fromage

Champagne And Fromage Cheese

Maud’s top 3 cheeses to serve with your Champagne

1 - A hard cheese such Comté (24 month) which is fruity and nutty 

2 - Langres, which is soft a bit pungent

3 - Fourme d’Ambert -  light and creamy blue cheese

If you want to ensure that your cheeseboard has the wow factor, then check out Just Slate’s  selection of stylish and contemporary cheeseboards made from a variety of different materials that will make your cheeses really stand out.. Prices start at £22. 

 Just Slate Copper And Wooden Cheese Boards

A delicious education

If you want to impress your guests by delighting them with delicious food whilst they also learn and thing or two, Maud offers some mouth-watering Champagne and cheese masterclasses, so your guests can learn a little more about what they are eating and drinking in true French style.

“Your guests will enjoy a selection of four grower Champagnes and each of them have been specially paired with our cheeses, charcuterie and tartines” she explains.   

“Over the course of around 2 hours the tutoring takes each guest on a wonderful journey in to the Champagne world. They always have a lot of questions when it comes to Champagne – they’re so excited to know so much about a product they love” she adds.

“It provides all the ingredients for a really successful evening - great food, great wines, whilst they learn and laugh a lot!”


If you’d like to work with French Bubbles or Champagne + Fromage then you can find them in Toast.Life’s Little Black Book, and don’t forget to tag @ToastLifeUK in all your fizzy, fromagey fun – we would love to see your photos!

 

 
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