Nov 8, 2014

Au Quai! OK?: Lingot de Cocagne


Sure, cafés get all the good rep, but they're not the only spot to meet a friend, have a chat, or even hold a meeting in Paris. My favorite spot to do all of those things is walking on the quais along the Seine. Not only do I get fresh air and exercise, you just never know what you'll see.


My friend's friend moves to Paris for a while; it turns out it's Nilofer Merchant, who's such a walkaholic, she gave a TED talk on the topic: the walk-n-talk, the movable meeting. You can guess where we choose to meet. I'm happy to walk with somebody I like, and even happier when somebody I like likes walking.

It's how I got to know my best French friend: most school days for around three years now, I've been walking the dog every morning -- her dog, that is. I often cross paths with the Seine dog-owners: I usually recognize their dogs first.

Walking along the quais, I've had a meeting with a TV producer about writing a script, interviews for article assignments, and learned more about people than I ever have sitting over a coffee or drink.

The quais along the river aren't always the most conducive to walking; in some sections, the bumpy paving stones can be quite hazardous. And underneath the bridges, it generally smells like stale urine.

On the other hand, the bridges are pretty scenic. Here, Nilofer and I both stop mid-walk for a quick photo of the bridge's gargoyles.


Up above, the sidewalks are smoother on the ankles, and the booksellers have their own, distinct charm. Very Parisian.


Despite the occasion pee smell and ankle twist, the view is definitely worth it. And if you really need that cup of coffee, you can even find that in some places along the quai.

For my money, it's the best place in town for a chat or a full-blown meeting -- and it doesn't even cost any of my money.
THE CHEESE: Lingot de Cocagne

Lingot de Cocagne is a soft cheese made from organic, raw sheep's milk. Hailing from Tarn, in the Midi-Pyrénées, it's a small production cheese made and sold from January through Sept and is difficult to find (but not impossible) in Paris.

The cheese is aged 2-4 weeks, and I'm pretty sure the sample I buy is much closer to the 4-week end of the spectrum. It's somewhat hard and dried out, though still creamy and delicious. In fact, the extra aging may make it extra delicious, or at least more strongly flavored. It's a well-balanced cheese with lovely hints of the farm. We all deem it great, though harder than expected, and might opt for a younger, creamier version if given the choice.


First of all, Lingot de Cocagne looks like a paving stone (and, even, like a bunch of paving stones linked together) which is something that gives the walk along the quai character, but also makes it a sort of wobbly ankle-twisting adventure. Secondly, there's something about the photo of this cheese on this platter that brings to mind a stone walkway along the Seine.


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