Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wine and Cheese

By Matthew Bessette

For those who don’t know me, I’m Charlotte’s cousin, Matthew. My twin daughters, Amy and Clair—I believe you’ve met both on this blog—and I moved into Charlotte’s house a few months back. It’s a long story, but suffice it to say that my ex-wife wasn’t that keen on being a wife, let alone a mother. [She went away to see the world…know that movie Kramer vs. Kramer? was something like that). Anyway, I was a sommelier in Chicago at a five-star restaurant when I realized that the girls needed family. Not just family but a smaller town with familiar faces.

Learning that my grandfather, Pepere, was thinking about retiring, I had a chat with Charlotte and we decided that we should take over Fromagerie Bessette—or as the locals call it, The Cheese Shop. We would enhance it with a wine annex and go into partnership together. It’s been one of the best decisions of my life.

Charlotte—who the girls like to call Aunt Charlotte; she calls them her nieces because cousins-once-removed or some remote phrase to describe their connection is a mouthful and she’s like a sister to me anyway—took me under her wing. Charlotte was one of the few people who could get me to smile. She invited us to stay at her house until we got settled. {Note: I wasn’t much use for those first few months. Hang-dog eyes, grim mouth. Not the best to invite to a party, know what I mean? People would whisper, “See that guy over there, crying into his beer? Avoid him at all costs!” LOL Yeah, I heard them, and I’m better now. I’m dating someone who is a wonderful person.}

It helps being settled, and we’re pretty settled. The girls are enrolled in Providence Elementary and doing well. Clair is the brains; Amy is the creative one. And we see my grandparents, Pepere and Grandmere, just about every day. Providence is a small community, and I treasure the familiarity of it. Knowing the names of the various shop owners and the locals is comforting. Knowing I can call up the chief of police and get him on the telephone day or night is also comforting. Chicago was big! Beautiful but big.

My biggest concern is that Charlotte is a bit of a snoop. She sticks her nose in where it doesn’t belong. Well, that’s not entirely true. Our grandmother was suspected of murder. Charlotte had to get involved. I just worry that when another friend or family member or cheese shop patron gets in hot water, Charlotte’s going to think she has to be the “fixer.” We’ll see. Now that I’ve got my feet on the ground and I’m feeling like nothing could knock them out from under me, I’m going to watch out for her. Protect her. Like a big brother (cousin) should.

Wish me luck.

Oh, and if you want to find out who I’m dating…pick up a copy of THE LONG QUICHE GOODBYE. I’m still dating her in LOST AND FONDUE, too. Lucky me.

If you have a moment, share. What's your favorite wine? What cheese would you pair it with?

Be sure to catch Avery Aames at her website, on her other blog Mystery Lovers Kitchen, on facebook">Facebook, and on Twitter: @AveryAames. BTW, Avery shares RECIPES on Thursdays on MLK.

Watch the trailer for Lost and Fondue. Or read a sneak preview.


  1. I like new dry reds with old sharp cheddars.

  2. I'm looking forward to reading more about your love life...and Charlotte's in the new book!
    I love a good Shiraz, and although I shouldn't eat cheese, melt when a creamy Brie in served. They probably are not the best pairing...but tasty!

  3. Like Janet, I love dry reds. Even though I'm at a loss to know what constitutes a preferred pairing, I love, love, love tiny bites of gouda between sips of my Merlot or Malbec. Just tried a Nebbiola the other day and I may have a new favorite...

  4. Janet - Reds with old sharp cheddars. Yum. Yes, I like those.

    Erika - Shiraz - smoky. I'm not sure there's a right and wrong when it comes to a pairing. Sure, there will be lots of pundits who will tell you there is, but it all comes down to your personal palate. What you like is what you like.

    Julie - Gouda with a Merlot or Malbec is gouda indeed. Nebbiola falls into that lovely dry red category. Very nice.

    Have any of you simply tried champagne? It's about the perfect pairing for all cheeses.

    Best, Matthew

  5. I'm with Julie! Merlot and gouda. Or heck...any wine with ANY them both too much to be able to really pick and choose!

  6. Yes, Matthew. Champagne is my choice to go with a mixed cheese platter. It really does go with everything!

  7. Matthew, you are the big brother I've always wanted ...

  8. Ooooooh, an author new to me. And I like cheese too. I'm adding you to my list of authors to read. Looking forward to 'sampling' "The Long Quiche Goodbye."


  9. Elizabeth, LOL. Any wine with any cheese. Too funny.
    Harbinger - a mixed cheese platter is the best, isn't it?
    Hannah - until my current girlfriend, I seemed to be everybody's "big brother." Nice guys finish last sometimes. But I like being nice.

    Carole - so good to see a reader who is excited about "new." I hope you enjoy the read!

    Best to all,

  10. well ... my heroine Vicky Hill is looking for love so if you come back on the market ... I'll let her know.

  11. Matthew - looking forward to reading more about you in Lost and Fondue.

    I like a good Reisling (sp?) or a good Pinot Grigio. I can't drink red wines because they are an instant migraine. Not fun. I'm not sure about pairing - but I like almost any cheese, especially a good brie or camembert (sp?) I can't seem to spell today. I belong to a group that does a monthly wine/food pairing, but it usually has some goofy theme. One month is was "ridiculous" and the next month it had to be a "parody". Basically it's a chance to see who can be the most creative or silly, even. Any suggestions you have would be really helpful.

  12. Booklady - I'm not sure what a ridiculous theme might be. Are you thinking the wrong wine for the wrong food? Red wine with lobster? A sweet white for really really spicy food? I'm picturing a lot of laughter. For a wine and cheese tasting, I always like a cheese platter, fruits, nuts, good breads and a selection of wines. That's the best way to see what flavors you like together. And it's so easy. Ask my cousin Charlotte. She's been taking all sorts of platter-making classes lately. PS, you spelled Camembert right. :)

    Best to you.

  13. Hannah, I've read Vicky's exploits. I'm sure she'll find someone worthy of her soon. Tell her if she should ever make it to Providence, she should come to The Cheese Shop. There are a couple of available men in town that I know Charlotte would like to introduce her to.

  14. Glad you're feeling better, Matthew, and that the shop is doing so well! Keep an eye on Charlotte. I worry about her.