Like many chefs, Sebastien Tavel dreamed of owning his own restaurant. Finding the money proved difficult, so the former sous chef at DC’s Poste downsized his aspirations, opening a gourmet-food store with his wife, Mary. “I wanted to work for myself,” he says. “It’s another way to promote good food.”
At La Fromagerie in Old Town Alexandria, the couple emphasizes American farmstead products, many of which Tavel learned about from his work in Poste’s kitchen. The light-filled shop stocks nearly 60 cheeses, including local brands such as Meadow Creek Dairy.
Nearly everything is devoted to cheese—spreaders, books about the stuff, accompaniments such as nuts and chutneys, and more. We love the Harvest Song apricot-and-white-cherry preserves and, to go with the spreadable chèvre, the Fine Cheese Company walnut crackers. There are also about 25 domestic and imported wines.
The Tavels carry a small but varied selection of meats, including smoky Edwards country ham from Virginia and a number of salamis and pâtés. Sebastien plans to start making his own charcuterie—a chance to get back in the kitchen.
La Fromagerie, 1222 King St., Alexandria; 703-879-2467. Open Monday and Wednesday through Saturday 11 to 7, Sunday 11:30 to 7.
This article appears in the February, 2010 issue of The Washingtonian.
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