A Ardour for Cheese – Pittsburgh Quarterly

F.Necessarily the people who are the most in life Those who are passionate about what they do are successful. When you cross the threshold of Chantal’s, the tiny cheese shop across from the Lawrenceville Children’s Hospital, the passion is palpable. These are people who love cheese!

Anaïs Saint-André Loughran was born and raised in Lyon, France. In 1935, the French food critic Curnonsky declared it the capital of gastronomy. Of course, she grew up loving good food, especially cheese. Loughran immigrated to the United States 12 years ago and married a man from Pennsylvania in New York. While visiting Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, she met a woman in a cheese shop who sold her artisanal cheddar cheese. At first she mocked this “less” American cheese, but the woman talked about cheese like poetry, and Loughran came to two realizations that day: There were some amazing cheeses made in America and she wanted to open her own cheese shop and be just like this woman.

She and her husband Chris, a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, moved to Pittsburgh seven years ago. Loughran still remembers the view of the city as they drove through the Fort Pitt tunnel, and it was love at first sight. There were many aspects of Pittsburgh that reminded her of Lyon, and she quickly made it her adopted home.

Three years ago, the couple fulfilled a dream when they opened Chantal’s specialty cheese shop, named after Anaï’s late mother. It is a tribute that must be remembered every day of her days in France. At the heart of the store is a cheese bag filled with local and imported cheeses. The focus is on smaller producers and farms, so you probably won’t find much available in grocery stores there. From local farms like Goat Rodeo in Allison Park to tiny producers from Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland and other countries, the case is full of flavors, colors, textures and smells. And while tasting is currently not possible due to COVID, the trained staff is incredibly helpful and dedicated when it comes to helping customers discover new cheeses. There is also a selection of charcuterie, including ham, chorizos, and pies.

If you’re entertaining, Chantal’s creates beautiful cheese and sausage platters. Sizes range from two to four servings to 15 to 20 and there are a variety of themes including “The Safe Bet”, “The European”, “The Adventurer”, “Sweet Tooth” and “The Vegetarian”. Chantal’s also carries vegan cheese and makes a vegan pate in-house.

While they are currently offered online, at some point Chantal’s will return to personal classes where cheese is paired with side dishes like jam, honey, or nuts and served with complementary wine. An informative discussion ensures that participants can be entertained as they learn about cheese.

If you’ve discovered (or are about to discover) the wonders of raclette, Chantal’s offers raclette rentals, including a grill, cheese, charcuterie and a glass of gherkins. If you’re not familiar with this, raclette is a dish from Switzerland where raclette cheese is continuously melted on a special grill until bubbly or browned, then scraped off with boiled or steamed potatoes, meat, vegetables and gherkins and is eaten.

In addition, Chantal’s sells specialties such as jams, spreads, olives, oils, vinegars, crackers, nuts, spices, as well as some housewares and books that focus on cheese. They help you to put together a beautiful, individual gift basket that will delight every recipient.

And when you get hungry, grab one of the incredible grilled cheese sandwiches. There is always Cheddar, Havarti and Gouda as well as two daily specials on a baguette from the La Gourmandine bakery.

Once large gatherings are back on their feet, Chantal’s has many other options. You can provide custom cheese tables, cheese towers, and wicker tables for weddings, events, showers, and parties.

Whatever your passion for cheese, Chantal’s Specialty Cheese Shop won’t disappoint.

www.chantalscheese.com, 412-621-1203, 4402 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa., 15224

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