Bakeries

Perfect Pairings: The Baguette from La Table and Grayson Cheese from Houston Dairymaids

The best bread and cheese this side of the Atlantic.
The best bread and cheese this side of the Atlantic. Photo by Kate McLean
The Houston climate is well-suited for two things: keeping your skin fresh and young-looking and properly temping cheese in your car. Thirty minutes around high noon should do the trick; any longer and the glorious stink of cheeses like Grayson evaporate entirely, haunting the family sedan for hours, sometimes days. Set a timer.

Scooping up a baguette from La Table will run you $3, though I'd gladly shell out more for the best bread in all the land. As I've harped before, Otto Sanchez nails the color, and in the quiet moments on the car ride home the chewy crust and air-pocked interior remind us all that a baguette by itself can constitute as a meal. Grabbing a third of a pound of Grayson cheese from Houston Dairymaids only enhances the perfection that is Sanchez's baguette.

A stop into Houston Dairymaids is highly encouraged for any cheese lover because whatever your fancy it's likely they carry it or something comparable. But seriously, good luck leaving with just one. Owner Lindsey Schector has been slinging artisanal American cheeses at Houstonians for nearly thirteen years and really knows her stuff.

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Houston Dairymaids features free tastings daily.
Photo by Kate McLean
For this particular tall, dark and handsome baguette, the Grayson cheese from Meadow Creek Dairy made for a banging first date. Produced in Virginia, this sassy little chunk of funk is soft-ripened and made from raw Jersey milk, which is, gasp, unpasteurized. Fear not people — the FDA got your back; in order to sell raw milk cheese in the United States, it must be aged a minimum of 60 days.

Typical of washed-rind cheeses, Grayson is celebrated for it's strong flavor and creamy texture and really should be enjoyed just warm enough. Whereas the French are like "it's called Epoisses" and the Italians rebut with "nah, it's pronounced Taleggio," the Americans are knocking on the front door of Stephanie Carlton's parent's house — "hi, we made one too called Grayson."

Of all the moo cow breeds, milk from Jersey cattle has the highest butterfat content. Rich, full-bodied — anytime you see Jersey milk on the label, it's sure to be legit. The most intense bite of Grayson is found on the rind and is especially fun because of all the little crunchies left behind from minerals in the brine. Meghan Lund of Houston Dairymaids fondly compares the texture of this cheese to "crème brulee."

Put plainly, oozing Grayson heaped onto fresh baguette is the type of high school rumor legends are made of.

Houston Dairymaids sells Grayson for $24 a pound. They are open Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

La Table sells baguettes for $3, but get there early, they go fast. La Table is open Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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