Five Years of Madame Fromage

Flowers and Madame Fromage

Hard to believe: this month I am celebrating a big blog anniversary! And it’s made me a little nostalgic. I’ve spent the last few days sifting through old photos and trying to decide just what to post. My last half decade has been so memorable, full of so many friends and fromages that, well, even I feel a little speechless.

Five Years Ago…

I put up my first blog post on April 22, 2009 — the photo is so awful, I cringe. At the time, I thought it was just shy of magnificent. I had never taken a cheese photo before, and I borrowed my boyfriend’s camera for my first snap. It was my  first time using a digital camera. I didn’t own an iphone. I thought blogging was for sillies, but I wanted a place to organize my cheese notes.

First Madame Fromage Header

It was 2009 — the year of swine flu, the month Bea Arthur died — and I had just discovered La Tartine Gourmande, a blog so beautiful I gasped, then tossed all my old issues of Gourmet in recycling (sorry, Ruth Reichl). I spent an evening jotting down blog names and settled on “The Cheese Log,” then switched it at the last minute.

As I was putting out some cheese on a cutting board that night, I had a revelation: creating a cheese board was like setting a stage, and I loved the theatrical effects of adding pairings. In fact, cheese was milk in drag, I decided. And so Madame Fromage was born…

Four Years Ago…

Blind Tasters

The obsession was a tilt-a-whirl. I made all of my friends submit to blind tastings, and I read books about cheese every night in bed. Monsieur Fromage and I saw nothing but rinds in our dreams. At least once a week, I wore a trench coat and sunglasses into Di Bruno Bros. and lurked, taking notes.

Three Years Ago…

I made friends with some fabulous dames in my neighborhood who ran a little cheese shop, called Quince. Once a month, we began hosting tastings, exploring cheeses together, and inviting local cheesemakers to pop in. I began to discover wild cheeses in my own backyard — not something this Wisconsin grrrl expected to find in Pennsylvania.

Quince Collage

Quince closed this year, but I still have fond memories of working with owners Joan and Nicole. They gave me an excuse to print business cards and taught me the importance of trading knowledge.

Two Years Ago…

I hit my stride. A friend helped me redesign Madame Fromage, and I bought my first DSLR (and sort of figured out how to use it.) By this point, I was no longer hiding my eyes in Di Bruno Bros. In fact, I was blogging for their site. I’d pick a quiet morning each week to stop in sample a new cheese.

Cheese Ice Skaters

A photo of winter cheeses for the Di Bruno Bros. blog

One Year Ago…

A high point: hanging out at Anthropologie for a book signing with Emilio Mignucci. We signed 150 copies of The Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese that night.

Di Bruno Book at Anthropologie

The project brought together everything I love: words and dairy. From the beginning, I’ve always wanted this site to promote dairy literacy. I started off teaching myself a cheese lexicon, and I wanted to be able to turn around and share it.

Today…

I serve words. I serve cheese. These are the things I adore. To bring them together in this space makes me wildly happy. Occasionally, I wonder: what if I shut out the light? What if I stopped paying my web host? Would I still be me? What if I became Frau Tofu? Would I find a lively audience among the lactose free?

Surrounded by cheesemakers: Brent Zimmerman, Sue Miller, Kristian Holbrook

Surrounded by cheesemakers: Brent Zimmerman, Sue Miller, Kristian Holbrook

The truth is, I don’t think so. Cheese people are the nicest folks in the world. I really mean that. I have hung with wine people and beer people, with coffee people (oy, the angst!), and the charcuterie crowd. Cheese people are simply the nicest, humblest, dorkiest, most intelligent, kindest, hunkiest, most huggable, silliest, most wonderful, honest, generous, down-to-earth people on earth.

Once, I had a broken shower that leaked through my floor, and a cheese person offered to come to my house and fix it! Find me another busy workaday soul who would offer to do that.

It All Brings Me To This…

I feel very lucky to have you. Thanks for coming to this place. Thanks for reading. Thanks for nibbling and being curious. I don’t know how long you’ve been coming here or how many times you visited. Or what search words brought you. Never mind all that. Blogging has never been about numbers for me. Or trying to win awards or raise my Google rankings. It’s been about verbs. About writing, creating, noshing, honoring, sharing.

Thanks for giving me room to do this. Like a cheese, I need to breathe. And this is how I do it.

Munster Gerome in Our Notebooks

~

P.S. If there’s anything you’d like to see on this site — anything that would help you, serve you better, or bring you closer to what you want to be doing, please drop me a line. 

 

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Comments
17 Responses to “Five Years of Madame Fromage”
  1. mac says:

    I enjoy your articles very much, but would appreciate a spotlight cheese of the week. This type of focus helps expand the memory vocabulary for a particular cheese that you’ve experienced, or gets you interested in hunting the blighter up.

    to think calling something “cheesy” is derogatory!

    mac

    • tdarlington says:

      Thanks, Mac. Good suggestion. I used to do more cheese spotlights, but then I got out of the habit after I wrote the book. You remind me how important it is to introduce people to cheeses one hunk at a time. I’ll try to do more of that!

  2. Aunt Dawnie says:

    Cinq ans! Magnifique!
    Appropriate to give you my first iPhone response. After all, isn’t learning new things what your blog is all about?
    And new people – but I do love the same old you.

  3. Joy says:

    Aw, happy blog birthday to my favorite cheese courtesan! XO

  4. Easy to get distracted by the things you mention (rankings, awards etc) – I think we’ve all had our heads turned at some point, but the reminder to keep it real is always worth hearing and shows in the quality of your blog. It’s the authenticity and joie de cheese (sorry) I keep coming back for. Have watched it evolve over the last few years too and the design, feel, layout and tone are a joy. Congratulations…. (*raises an oozing spoonful of Mont D’Or*)..

    • tdarlington says:

      Just wanted to thank you so much for the lovely comment! I raise a spoonful of Mont D’Or to you…or maybe that should be Georgian cheese? I’m headed to London soon, so I was ALL OVER your London tips. What a great post. Wishing you the best from Philadelphia!

  5. Camilla says:

    Congratulations all the way from a Danish cheese blogger. What a journey you have taken – but thank you for sharing all your ideas and words.
    All the best, Camilla

  6. JohannaK says:

    Congratulations Tenaya! This is a wonderful place to visit! So happy I’m getting to know you 🙂

  7. mike says:

    The (cheese) world’s a better place, thanks to Madame Fromage ♡

  8. Congrats, Lady! Your writing is always a wonderful place to return to.

  9. Aunt Tookie says:

    Always, your blog is beautifully written and informative. You have a way with words and cheese that flow together perfectly. Because of you, I have nibbled cheeses I didn’t know existed. Thank you and congratulations on your 5 years! Here’s to many many more!

  10. Lakisha says:

    Happy Happy Anniversary. Your blog and passion has connected so many people. Hugs and kisses!

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