Sandwich of the Week: Reblochon and Jambon Cru at La Fermette in Annecy
Reblochon is one of the great French cheeses; a rich, soft, washed-rind wonderment made from raw cow's milk, with a slightly nutty flavor and a lingering finish. Annecy is a city of about 53,000 people at the top of a quietly stunning Alpine lake, with a beautiful old town — Vieil Annecy — full of pastel-hued houses along the winding Thiou Canal. Annecy's region, the Haute-Savoie, is famous not only for its cheeses, reblochon and otherwise, but also for its cured meats, including excellent mountain ham, and its hearty fare in general. Put them all together and you've got one hell of a serious sandwich.
La Fermette is a small, three-room food and souvenir shop on the rue du Pont Morens, a tourist-clogged pedestrian street in the middle of Vieil Annecy. Here, you can buy cheese, charcuterie, and some of the region's little-known but excellent wines to-go; or you can buy souvenir name bracelets (especially attractive if your name happens to be Jean-Jacques, Geneviève, or Amélie), Savoyard lace, cow-themed dishtowels, and gratin dishes with recipes imprinted on them. Whatever else you spend your euros on, though, you do not want to miss La Fermette's version of a ham-and-cheese sandwich.
You know those long, plump baguettes you always see tucked under the arms of cartoon Frenchmen? The shop takes approximately half of one of those, splits and toasts it, then layers on thin-sliced smoky ham. A huge hunk of reblochon, meanwhile, is melting in a pot; a broad spatula's worth is scraped up and spread molten onto the baguette. Then come sliced tomatoes and what looks like a whole jar's worth of crunchy French pickles. What more would any visitor to this delightful corner of the world need to fuel his or her stroll?