At St. James, cheese receives a level of attention that should be given to levees. Cheeses are kept at a cheese specific temperature and the proper humidity, which helps age the cheese but also protects it. But no need to be embarrassed if you have no clue how to serve a Tomme Crayeuse (trust us: we don’t). Richard and Danielle Sutton and their staff love to teach.
A row of cheeses greets you as you enter the door, along with an enchanting aroma. To the left of the cheese counter sit the hearty, hard cheeses: cheddar and Parmigiano Reggiano, for example. Next to them a brilliant display of blue cheeses rest like miniature blocks of marble waiting to be sculpted onto a toasty baguette. Then, triple cream bombs like the Brillat-Savarin with truffles (perfect with any left over champagne), chevres, muensters, and local cream cheeses.
The Smoky Blue sandwich layers toasted whole grain bread, a tangy Worcestershire mayo, the aforementioned blue cheese, and a pink-to-the-point-of-blushing roast beef. These flavors and textures are not unknown—a medium-rare filet with blue cheese and steak sauce comes to mind—but here the flavor is more honest, rather than merely indulgent.
The ploughman’s lunch has stilton, cheddar, goat cheese, paté, a salad and chutney—a perfect salute to the British. The charcuterie board changes frequently but always involves a paté, a few cured meats, some cheeses, and mustard so sharp it would make one hell of a Trivial Pursuit partner.
Notice the abundance of cheese courses at local restaurants now? Next time, ask where they get their cheese from. The answer is likely St. James. St. James Cheese Company wins our award for the best culinary development in New Orleans in a long time.
5004 Prytania St.; 899-4737. Mon-Thurs 1-6; Fri-Sat 11-8; Sun 11-4.