Specialty cheese store Fromage relocates to new site on Broadway

October 1, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Christine Patton opened her beautiful store, Fromage, on Mill Street on the Blues and Jazz Festival weekend in June, 2014. She stocked it with fine cheeses from “around the world,” along with other temptations in the way of preserves and speciality items in the freezer.

“I grew up on European cheeses,” said the daughter of German and Polish parents. “I ran the Farmers’ Market in Orangeville and developed a good rapport with the producers.

“I went back to school, to Ryerson, to study food security and local agriculture. There was always work on Saturdays with the market but when I did have a day off, I went to other farmers’ markets. A man in Georgetown had a round of aged Gouda  in his shop on Mill Street there. I went into it just to see it and I came out of there I and said, ‘This is what I’m doing.’ “

So, she went back to school, to George Brown College, “where I studied cheese, right from its history, how its made, how we digest it. How it’s made with different milks – the study teaches how to train your taste buds.

“What I truly love is telling people about the cheeses, introducing them to the different tastes and textures. The policy here is taste before you buy.”

Once she was ready set up her shop, it was a  coincidence, remembering the shop in Georgetown that inspired her, that the site she chose was on Mill Street, here in Orangeville.

She noted, “The first couple of years are a struggle but by about the fourth year, you get established. Customers from Einhorn in Caledon East [a gourmet shop in the truest sense of the word, which had shut down a few years before] starting coming to my store.”

Reflecting on the attractions of her establishment, she commented, “Because of the atmosphere we have, they’re not afraid to come in and ask about the cheeses they might not know much about. We help them, we direct them and let them try things.”

Ms. Patton and her family moved here in 2002, and bought a A&W franchise in town. “We sold it after three years. It was an idea of my husband’s, something he always thought he wanted to do. After he passed away nine years ago, my son was in rep hockey and we have friends here. So, we stayed.  Orangeville is home. I love this area.”

Just in the last few weeks, Ms. Patton moved her store from Mill Street to 111 Broadway, two doors west of TD Bank.

“I spoke to a lot of people down at this end of Broadway.” she said, “We could make ready-to-go sandwiches for the people who work all around us. It’s a little niche, not to tread on the toes of our neighbours.”

The new premises are three times the space of her former shop, but still what she likes: “I like that intimate, quaint feeling. I’m a cheese store that also sells good sandwiches. People love our grilled cheese.”

Of the direction in which she wants to take the cheese store, now happily settled in its new location, she explained, “We’re launching a bistro menu – croque messieur – interesting salads.

“I love to cook. Take a look at the take-home meals: soups, real food – dips. Karen [her assistant] went to Humber College studying culinary. We’ve developed some really neat recipes. We can’t be intimidated about food. You’re going to make mistakes but you learn from them. There are no additives, no preservatives in our food. Saturday, we were at the farmers’ market to buy for our salads. So, once again, there’s that connection from the farm to the table.”

For Thanksgiving, there are a plentiful choice of cheeses for beautiful cheese trays at Fromage.

Ms. Patton added, “I am doing wine and cheese events at private homes. I bring the cheeses and suggest the wines to the host.”

As to her ambitions, here were her happy remarks: “I’m ecstatic – I have found what I love to do. Not everybody can say that. What you see is what you get here. I give back to the community. I love where I am – this is where we’ll stay. Now that I’m doing this, I can’t see myself doing anything else. It allows me to be creative.

“I received so many flowers and good wishes from other merchants on the street and friends.”

She said: “What do I want? To have fun with cheese and tell people: expand your taste buds and enjoy.”

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