Petit Market Wonder: Fromagerie Sophie Brings Parisian Cheese Experience to SLO
Maybe it was the authentic, effervescent French Champagne going to her head. Or perhaps it was the scent of fresh-cut flowers intermingling with the pungent aroma of spectacular cheeses sold in every quaint, corner fromagerie.
Whatever the cause for the magic, it was Christmastime in Paris, and Sophie Boban-Doering and her husband, Paul, were in love.
Sound like a romance novel? Well, it should. The San Luis Obispo couple’s deep love affair with the city—its welcoming charm, specialty markets and unforgettable flavors—would go on to transcend oceans.
A year and a half later, Paul and Sophie are proud owners of Fromagerie Sophie cheese shop, located on Garden Street in downtown San Luis Obispo. With its cozy interior and rows of wax-wrapped wheels, it is a little slice of old Paree on the Central Coast.
“In Paris, every shopowner had a little space of their own, and it was their entire existence,” Paul said. “One shop supported a person or two, and it was very intimate and personal. It felt as though customers came to these shops for a single purpose, gathering together what was essential to them: good food.”
The bakeries, butchers and fish shops the couple encountered in France shared a similar quality, too: an emphasis on pride, artistry and heritage. This idea is very much alive at Fromagerie Sophie, where you’ll most likely run into one of the owners fussing over a wooden cheese board or creating a new window display.
“You sensed the passion, the drive and the tradition,” Sophie said. “To see how the bread is made, or how the real meats are cut and displayed—you felt like you could truly pamper yourself.”
In Paris, the couple did just that, stopping to nibble on a slice of salami or indulge an excellent wedge of brie, all while thinking how grand it would be to bring those nuanced experiences back to the Central Coast. Now, locals can treat themselves to a bit of that same epicurean bliss in their own backyard.
“We are here to have a good time with you, and we’re not in a hurry,” Sophie said. “It’s so important for us to allow customers to come in, relax and enjoy their time in the shop.”
Fromagerie Sophie represents a lifelong love of food for the raven-haired entrepreneur, who grew up in a European household with a Parisian mom who relished cooking and a Croatian father who never wasted a drop of good bone marrow.
Family gatherings overflowed with wine, rustic farm-prepared meats, small market treasures and—of course—the smelliest of cheeses.
In honor of that upbringing, Fromagerie Sophie carries a vast swath of international cheeses by the pound, punctuated with a healthy dose of local offerings. Charcuterie, including prosciutto and mortadella from Italy; salamis from Atascadero and Portland; and popular pâté from New York make for a global selection in one quaint stop.
The shop recently partnered with next-door restaurant La Locanda, pairing cheese to the eatery’s wine selection on their shared back patio. A cheese of the month club complete with social pickup party events make the Fromagerie Sophie experience both approachable and educational.
Paul said it’s inspiring to see so many local people aiming to create fantastic meals within their own kitchens. A quick stop by Fromagerie Sophie can quickly elevate a weeknight dinner or holiday meal into a feast that feels—and tastes—luxurious.
“There isn’t any cooking involved in bringing home cheese, yet it is a thing of beauty and it is finished and it is wonderful,” Paul said. “You can have a cheese plate at home before you go out and it just gets everyone in an amazing mood.”
If you ask Sophie, if you take one table and add a few friends and a cheese plate, you have instant pleasure at your fingertips.
“When everyone is there around the table, just enjoying life, that is what it is all about,” she said.
Fromagerie Sophie is located at 1129 Garden St. in downtown San Luis Obispo. Find their cheeses at Sidecar, Lido Restaurant, Kreuzberg, CA, Talley Vineyards, Good Ol Ranch Vineyards and The Wine Shed.