DINER: “Au Petit Chavignol” Closes After Four Delicious Years At 843 East Hastings

by Andrew Morrison | I’m very sad to report that Au Petit Chavignol has closed. I just got a call from Joe Chaput, who summed up the decision to shutter with characteristic frankness, “We had a lot of great customers, just not enough of them.” A message on their website reads:

We would like to let you know that we’ve made the decision to close Au Petit Chavignol effective immediately. After four wonderful years, we would like to thank our guests for their amazing support.

We feel that the time is right to move on to new opportunities and growth within les amis du FROMAGE, and we look forward to sharing more details with you at a later date.

Alice, Allison, Joe and all of our wonderful staff thank you for your patronage.

The little charcuterie, cheese and wine bar next door to Les Amis du Fromage at 843 East Hastings made one of the best cheeseburgers in town (my personal favourite), superb frites, gooey Croques, excellent fondues and raclettes, and other cheesy things besides. The restaurant is umbilically tied to Les Amis (Au Petit’s kitchen is Les Amis’ production kitchen), so I reckon there’s a fair chance that it will either return or give rise to something different. In the meantime, however, it will be missed.

HONOUR BOUND: 2nd Annual Eastside Food Festival “FeastVan” Confirmed For January

November 7, 2012 

Here’s an early heads-up on FeastVan, the second annual 17 day dining event involving many of the best restaurants in East Vancouver. From January 18th to February 3rd, local foodies and visitors will be invited to enjoy a selection of specially priced three-course meals (two course meals at lunch) at restaurants like Au Petit Chavignol, The Cascade Room, El Caminos, Habit, Harvest Community Foods, Les Faux Bourgeois, The Parker, Campagnolo Roma, Fray, The Red Wagon, Union Bar, and more.

All of the participating restaurants are going to be donating $1 from every prix fixe supper sold to the Stratchona Community Center’s outstanding Backpack Food Program, which helps to provide food to under-priviledged kids on the DTES and bridge the weekend gaps when school food programs don’t run. Also signed on are the good people at R&B Brewing Co., who will be donating a percentage of every delicious keg of East Side Bitter sold during the event. The cheese lords at Les Amis du FROMAGE will be doing the same for every sale of its kickass macaroni and cheese. It’s a delicious event for a great cause, and Scout is glad to be a part of it again.

If you own or run a restaurant in East Van and would like to get on board to help out, email Joe Chaput at joe [at] buycheese [dotcom] and he’ll tell you everything that you need to know. Scout will be keeping you abreast of all things FeastVan in the run up to January 18th, but in the short term, we kindly ask that you spread this initial good word on Twitter, Facebook, and such.

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Honour Bound details the many cool things that we feel honour bound to check out because they either represent Vancouver exceptionally well or are inherently super awesome in one way or another

DINER: The 1st Annual “FeastVan” Dining Fest Gearing Up To Help Local Kids In Need

Here’s an early heads-up on FeastVan, a brand new, 17 day dining event involving many of the best restaurants of East Vancouver. Help us spread the word far and wide, because from January 20th to February 5th, local foodies and visitors will be invited to enjoy a selection of specially priced three-course meals from Au Petit Chavignol, Red Wagon, Campagnolo Roma, Cafeteria, El Barrio, Les Faux Bourgeois, Two Chefs & A Table, Founders’ Lounge at The Cultch, Fray, and The Waldorf Hotel. We haven’t seen the menus yet, but that sure looks like a tasty line-up!

The participating restaurants will donate $1 to the Vancouver Inner-City Backpack Food Program for every special meal sold. The awesome organisation, which serves the children of Strathcona and the DTES, aims to “bridge the weekend gaps when school food programs are not running” (and is pretty much a breeding ground for saints). Also signed on are the good folks at R&B Brewing, who will be donating a percentage of every delicious keg of East Side Bitter sold during the event. Les Amis du Fromage will do the same for every sale of its kickass macaroni and cheese.

If you own or run a restaurant in East Van and would like to get on board to help out, email Joe Chaput at joe [at] buycheese [dotcom] and he’ll tell you everything that you need to know. Scout will be keeping you abreast of all things FeastVan in the run up to January 2oth, but in the short term, we kindly ask that you spread this initial good word and click after the jump for the rapid-fire FAQ… Read more

BEYOND CHEDDAR: Valençay, The Cheese That Caused Napoleon To Draw His Sword

January 1, 2012 

by Joe Chaput | So Santa drops me off a new camera under the tree this Xmas, and when I bring it in to work and start looking around for cheeses to snap pics of, what’s the first cheese that grabs my eye? This sexy Valençay, that’s what.

Valençay is a classic surface ripened goat cheese. Two distinct features make it easy to identify: The blanket of ash coating its exterior, and the absence of a top that would otherwise allow this cheese shape to form a complete pyramid. It is said that Napoleon returning from the disastrous campaign in Egypt stopped at the castle of Valençay, saw the cheese, and in a fit of anger drew his sword and chopped the top off of the pyramid. It has been made in its current shape ever since.

Valençay originates in France’s Loire valley, in the province of Berry. It achieved AOC status in 1998. Weighing in at around 200-250 grams, it is made from unpasteurized milk and exhibits a snow white interior and smooth texture. The flavour is slightly acidic with hints of citrus. There is no denying that it tastes like great chèvre. The classic pairing suggests serving it alongside Sauvignon Blanc. Try one from Noella Morantin or Calliope.

While it is not always in stock at les amis du FROMAGE, you can expect them to sell for around $14.95 each.

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Joe Chaput is the Cheese Editor of Scout Magazine (because of course we have a Cheese Editor!), the co-proprietor and fromager of East Hastings’ Au Petit Chavignol, a member of the Guilde des Fromagers Confrerie du Saint-Uguzon and a Red Seal-certified cook. His by-weekly column – Beyond Cheddar – deals with all things stinky, oozy, sharp, soft, creamy and delicious.

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BEYOND CHEDDAR: On The Most Delicious Medical Instrument In All Of Switzerland…

November 14, 2011 

by Joe Chaput | It is said that the small but highly efficient emergency medical services of the Swiss canton of Glarus include in their medics’ toolkit a small vial of Schabziger. Whenever a person passes out, the vial is opened below his or her nostrils until he or she wakes up. Failure to respond to the Schabziger treatment is not a good sign.

This is one of those cheeses that customers rarely notice in the cheese cooler. That is unless you’re Swiss, in which case you excitedly exclaim “Green Cheese!” and become a little less homesick. It’s a small (90 gram), cone-shaped, cow’s milk cheese which sits about 5 cm high. Known also as Sap Sago or Swiss Green Cheese, Schabziger has now been exclusively produced by Geska since the year 2000 in Glarus.  The production of Schabziger goes back 1000 years.  It was the first branded product in Switzerland; where in 1463 a law was passed which obliged all cheese producers to conform to certain quality standards and to mark their products with a stamp of origin.

According to the manufacturer’s website, the local population had to pay taxes to the monastery, and this included parting with some of their low-fat, white Glarner cheese. However, because the flavour of this cheese was too insipid for the good ladies of Säckingen, they started to add blue fenugreek, a strongly flavoured herb from the monastery garden that had probably been brought back by crusaders from the Levant. And so the Schabziger cheese was born!

It is still produced using the same principles used a 1000 years ago.  Skimmed cow’s milk from the Glarner mountains is heated to over 90°C. The lactic acid culture is slowly and patiently mixed in and the milk separates into curd, which contains all the protein and whey. The fresh curd releases the whey into flat basins and cools down before undergoing an initial ripening stage in the fermenting vat for a total of 4-12 weeks. The fresh curd is subsequently crushed, mixed with salt and stored for further ripening for eight months in silos. Only then is the costly blue fenugreek added, which gives the Swiss Schabziger its green colour and inimitable taste. Patience well rewarded!

The texture is a bit like a hard ricotta, and the aroma is uniquely pungent. It’s generally not eaten on it’s own, but used in cooking instead, where it is grated over potatoes, spätzle, salads or soup. It is also sometimes mixed with equal parts butter and used as a spread on bread.

$5.75 each, available at les amis du FROMAGE.

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Joe Chaput is the Cheese Editor of Scout Magazine (because of course we have a Cheese Editor!), the co-proprietor and fromager of East Hastings’ Au Petit Chavignol, a member of the Guilde des Fromagers Confrerie du Saint-Uguzon and a Red Seal-certified cook. His by-weekly column – Beyond Cheddar – deals with all things stinky, oozy, sharp, soft, creamy and delicious.

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DINER: “Les Amis Du Fromage” Celebrating 100 Years Of Stilton With Port Pairing Night

September 30, 2011 

It was too soon to include this awesome food event in today’s Scout List, and since we imagine it will sell out before we get around to including it on account of its imminence, we’re giving you a head’s up well in advance. Check it out…

les amis du FROMAGE and Taylor Fladgate and Fonseca Ports invite you to join us as we celebrate the opening of one of Long Clawson’s world record setting 100lb wheels of blue Stilton.The famous dairy is celebrating 100 years of Stilton cheese-making near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, England. To commemorate their centenary, we will be serving the Stilton alongside a range of outstanding Port wines from Taylor Fladgate and Fonseca, plus a selection of hors d’oeuvres prepared by Chef Jenny Shearman of Au Petit Chavignol. Also joining us from the winery offices in Porto, Portugal will be Jorge Ramos, Export Director of The Fladgate Partnership.

It goes down Friday, October 21st at 6:30pm. Get all the details after the jump… Read more

BEYOND CHEDDAR: On The Rouzaire’s Brie-Like “Fougerus” From Ile-de-France

September 12, 2011 

by Joe Chaput | One of the more easily recognized products in our store is the Fougerus; a soft brie-like cheese that is considered part of the Coloummiers family. Robert Rouzaire (of the Fromagerie Rouzaire) originally produced it in the 1960’s for personal use, but its popularity increased over the years to the point that it has become a huge commercial success. While Rouzaire is not a small company by any means, it is nevertheless family-run and independent, and the cheese is the end result of three generations of cheese0making and affinage.

The name Fougerus comes from the word “Fougere” which is French for “fern”. Because the fern frond is added just prior to packaging, it doesn’t impact the flavour, but it does looks pretty on top. While I’m sure it’s edible, I don’t recommend eating it.

Milk is collected daily from 25 farms in Seine & Marne, part of Ile-de-France, which is east and south of Paris. The herd is composed of around 900 Prim Holstein cattle. Natural grazing in summer and winter feeding of farm-produced hay is encouraged. All farmers are members of the Good Production Practices Charter. It takes 6 litres of milk to make one 750 gram wheel of Fougerus. Everything is done by hand, including cutting the curd, ladling the curd into the moulds, turning, flipping, and salting. After production, the cheeses are then ripened in their old underground cellars in Tournan en Brie.

The outside of the cheese has a white bloomy rind, and is distinguished by the sole fern on top. The interior is straw coloured. The pate is firmer when young, and runny when fully ripe. I personally like it when it still has that slight band of chalkiness in the center. Fougerus has earthy, almost vegetal aromas. The flavour is also vegetal, with hints of mushrooms when younger, and leaning towards turnip or cauliflower when riper. You may find it a bit saltier than other brie, with a lingering sharpness on the finish.

Fougerus is $4.50 per 100 grams, and is only sold by the quarter wheel. Enjoy it with a full-bodied chardonnay or pinot noir.

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Joe Chaput is the Cheese Editor of Scout Magazine (because of course we have a Cheese Editor!), the co-proprietor and fromager of East Hastings’ Au Petit Chavignol, a member of the Guilde des Fromagers Confrerie du Saint-Uguzon and a Red Seal-certified cook. His by-weekly column – Beyond Cheddar – deals with all things stinky, oozy, sharp, soft, creamy and delicious.

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GOODS: Strathcona’s “Au Petit Chavignol” Looking To Hire A New Hands-On Manager

August 12, 2011 

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Au Petit Chavignol | 845 East Hastings St. (between Hawkes & Campbell) | 604-255-4218 | www.aupetitchavignol.com

The GOODS from Au Petit Chavignol

Vancouver, BC | Au Petit Chavignol is hiring a full time “hands-on” restaurant manager to oversee daily operations of the restaurant. We are open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner (brunch served on weekends) and located next door to les amis du FROMAGE in Vancouver’s historic Strathcona neighbourhood. Send your résumé and a brief cover letter in confidence to Joe Chaput  at joe [at] buycheese [dot com]. For more information about our company, please visit www.aupetitchavignol.com.

BEYOND CHEDDAR: On “Le Maréchal”, The Swiss Cheese Made By A 12 Farm Collective

by Joe Chaput | Le Maréchal was a tough guy with a soft heart, and his namesake cheese reflects his robust character. In the big scheme of things, this is a relative newcomer to the cheese world. Produced by the Rapin family in Granges-près-Marnand, Vaud, Switzerland since 1992, it was named after their grandfather Emil Rapin, a 19th century village blacksmith (le maréchal-ferrant).

According to their website, “The cheese maker and the producers of the milk for the cheese are bound by a collective agreement. They set up the Le Maréchal Interprofession Association and drew up specifications intended to guarantee the quality of the milk in a production process which respects the cows as well as nature in general. Thus, each farm must produce a minimum of 80% of its dry fodder. The cows’ diet is supplemented with Omega-3-rich flaxseed flour (up to 250 grams per kilo), especially in winter. These essential fatty acids, good for healthy blood circulation, therefore naturally find their way into Le Maréchal.”

It’s wonderful to see that the 12 dairy farms that produce the milk for La Maréchal have banded together to form a cooperative that is committed to being part of making one cheese and one cheese only.  They’re a great example of doing one thing only, but doing it well.

Le Maréchal is similar in texture to Gruyere; however the wheels are substantially smaller.  Because of this smaller size, the cheeses are aged for 130 days compared to twice as long for a good wheel of gruyere.  During the ripening process the rind is brushed with aromatic herbs. The resulting crust is dark brown and flecked with herbs. The paste is a light golden color and is smooth with few, if any holes.  It has a nutty, herbal aroma that is reminiscent of rich milk. The flavours are again milky and herbaceous, with a slight sweetness.

Enjoy La Maréchal with a glass of Beaujolais, merlot, or a more hoppy styled beer. You can find le Maréchal at les amis du FROMAGE for $3.99/100 grams.

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Joe Chaput is the Cheese Editor of Scout Magazine (because of course we have a Cheese Editor!), the co-proprietor and fromager of East Hastings’ Au Petit Chavignol, a member of the Guilde des Fromagers Confrerie du Saint-Uguzon and a Red Seal-certified cook. His by-weekly column – Beyond Cheddar – deals with all things stinky, oozy, sharp, soft, creamy and delicious.

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BEYOND CHEDDAR: On The Cheese That Readily Converts Into A Mean Battle Station

by Joe Chaput | So you’re the King of France. You’re powerful and you can do anything. What do you do then? Have a French version of a Dutch cheese made for you! At least that’s what King Louis XIV did (or so the story goes). He even had it coloured orange to make it distinct from Edam. He did not order it to be made in the likeness of the Death Star. I did that.

Now commonly known as Mimolette, it was originally called Boule de Lille. Lille is the Dutch-influenced town where it originated in Northern France (in the area of Flanders). This favourite of Charles de Gaulle is made from pasteurized cows milk and weighs in at around 3 kilos. It can be found in varying degrees of age. When young (3-6 months of age), it is very mild, in which case you may be more inclined to serve it for breakfast, or in a sandwich. With age it transforms into a dry, crumbly, wine-friendly cheese. You may find it aged in ranges of 6, 9, 12, 18 or even 24 months (vielle-cassant).

It’s easily recognized for its pitted crust, which is not far off from some sort of cratered moon. This is a result of cheese mites that are introduced during the aging process. The mites feed on the outside crust, and the holes they create allow for air flow and flavour development as the cheese ages. During the aging process, the crust is brushed and the resulting dust from the holes is brushed off. I don’t know anyone who eats the crust of Mimolette, so I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Due to recent import regulations into Canada, the Mimolette we receive of late has had its crust ground down, and the exterior covered in black wax. Same cheese, regulating officials satisfied.

The aromas are not overly strong, and the taste is not in your face. However, when you try a really old Mimolette – like one that is aged 24 months – you can see why it’s so popular. The texture is hard and crumbly, not unlike a very old Dutch Gouda. As cheesemongers, we have to put our weight into it sometimes to cut a proper slice. The taste is nutty with hints of buttery sweet caramel. The finish is a lengthy one. On the palate, the texture is a bit like fudge.

Mimolette can be enjoyed with red wines, sherry, port and even bubbly. In the kitchen, you can shave it into salads. Its bright orange color might be just the thing your dish was missing.

You can find the 24 month aged version at Les Amis du Fromage for $8.50/100 grams.

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Joe Chaput is the Cheese Editor of Scout Magazine (because of course we have a Cheese Editor!), the co-proprietor and fromager of East Hastings’ Au Petit Chavignol, a member of the Guilde des Fromagers Confrerie du Saint-Uguzon and a Red Seal-certified cook. His by-weekly column – Beyond Cheddar – deals with all things stinky, oozy, sharp, soft, creamy and delicious.

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BEYOND CHEDDAR: On Versatile, Gooey “La Tur” From Italy’s Caseificio dell’Alta Langa

by Joe Chaput | I wondered if it was just me at first, but apparently La Tur makes lots of other people happy, too. I think it’s something about its alluring texture; kind of like room temperature butter or a perfect custard. No wonder it gets annihilated on a cheese plate, with little evidence left of it ever being on the plate in the first place.

It is made in Lange, in the Piemonte region of Italy, by producer Caseificio dell’Alta Langa. They pride themselves on not using preservatives, food dyes or additives. Crafted through a well balanced blend of cow, goat and sheep’s milk which has been pasteurized at very low temperatures, it has that cow’s milk buttery texture but with hints of sourness you might find in a younger style goat cheese. The color is ivory white, with a wrinkly surface ripened rind. The texture is gooey and softest at the outside edges, staying a bit fluffier towards the middle. With age, it becomes almost liquid. No wonder it is served in a paper cup! The flavour is often described as harmonious and balanced; kind of a close your eyes and go mmm sort of thing.

Terra Breads’ pecan and fruit bread would be a magnificent vehicle to scoop it up with, but make sure you serve it at room temperature. To pair, I recommend serving it with Italian Acacia or truffle honey. For a wine ally, consider a German spatlese or an older Bordeaux-style red.

La Tur | Caseificio dell’Alta Langa | available at Les Amis du Fromage | $7.50 per 100 grams

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Joe Chaput is the Cheese Editor of Scout Magazine (because of course we have a Cheese Editor!), the co-proprietor and fromager of East Hastings’ Au Petit Chavignol, a member of the Guilde des Fromagers Confrerie du Saint-Uguzon and a Red Seal-certified cook. His by-weekly column – Beyond Cheddar – deals with all things stinky, oozy, sharp, soft, creamy and delicious.

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BEYOND CHEDDAR: Getting To Know The Creamy And Pungent “Le Montagnard”

by Joe Chaput | People ask me all the time “What’s your favourite cheese?” With so many available to me on a daily basis, it’s hard to have just one. However, I do have several that I never tire of, and Le Montagnard is certainly one of these. Made by Fromagerie Gerard (for larger company Borsault), it starts life between the Alsace and Lorraine regions of France in the Vosges mountains. It has a mixed rind, meaning it starts with a washed rind before a bloom is allowed to grow over top. The texture is delightfully creamy with moderately pungent whiffs of hay and milk. I find it somewhat boring when young, but when it ripens it really hits its stride. The aromas get bigger, and it begins to ooze. Enjoy it with a glass of Alsatian Gewurztraminer, JoieFarm’s Noble Blend, or even a lighter-style red.

Le Montagnard | Fromagerie Gerard | available at Les Amis du Fromage | $9.95

Joe Chaput is the Cheese Editor of Scout Magazine (because of course we have a Cheese Editor), the co-proprietor and fromager of East Hastings’ Au Petit Chavignol, a member of the Guilde des Fromagers Confrerie du Saint-Uguzon and a Red Seal-certified cook. His by-weekly column – Beyond Cheddar – deals with all things stinky, oozy, sharp, soft, creamy and delicious.

GOODS: Jenny Shearman Appointed Head Chef At Strathcona’s “Au Petit Chavignol”

Au Petit Chavignol | 845 East Hastings St. (between Hawkes & Campbell) | 604-255-4218 | www.aupetitchavignol.com

The GOODS from Au Petit Chavignol

Vancouver, BC | We’re excited to announce the promotion of Jenny Shearman to the position of Head Chef at Au Petit Chavignol. Jenny comes to us via Bruno Marti and his restaurant La Belle Auberge in Ladner. With the season change upon us, come taste some of our new menu items, including dishes utilizing our first shipment of the season from the SoleFood Farm on East Hastings St in Strathcona. Learn more about the restaurant and wine bar after the jump… Read more

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