Once pinned with an unhealthy rep, cheese is making a comeback

By Alynda Wheat
June 22, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

Cabrales, Manchego, Saint-Marcellin. No, they’re not the hot new designers from Europe — we’re talking about the in thing in chichi cuisine: cheese. Despite a once heart-busting rep, fromage is famous again, with trendy eateries like NYC’s Town and Artisanal reviving the cheese course. The American Dairy Association has been making cheddar look better, too, with chuckle-worthy ”Ahh, the power of Cheese” ads.

”With the popularity of protein diets, we’re discovering so many beautiful cheeses,” says Marisa Perry of Dairyland, food supplier to gourmands in the Northeast. Celeb chef Mario Batali (of the Food Network’s Molto Mario), a Perry client, says cheese has been on the menu at his see-and-be-seen Greenwich Village restaurant Babbo since day one. ”Americans just plain like cheese,” says Batali. ”They may not know about the incredible variety available, but we like cheeeeese.” Sure, the ricotta revolution makes for great eats, but what about the bottom line? Not to worry. ”In France, every meal ends with a cheese platter,” says Perry, ”and the French are skinny.”