Cheese, please!

Lifestyle & Culture | April 14, 2009

I approach cheese similar to how I deal with wine. Ironic, non? I love both, have a decent amount of knowledge, know my particular favourites, but likely will never claim any sort of expertise in either subject. But I'm okay with this - it keeps the adventure exciting, mysterious, and unpretentious.

When I skim the wine list, I look first for a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. It dances across my tongue, youthful and energetic. Chilean Carmenères are next most likely to please, followed closely by Argentinian Malbecs - complex, delicious, and not too heavy. Mmmm....

Now cheese. Well, I could eat cheese all day long. From the common goat's cheese to the intimidating blue and orange stink of Shropshire Blue, and everything in between. Cow, goat, sheep, I love them all. Needless to say, when I heard about a to-die-for cheese shoppe in London's Borough Market, I had a mission to undertake. Mission: authentic stinky British cheese.

Without a shop name or street address, I let the cheese fiend in me lead the way. I felt like a little mouse, literally sniffing out the cheese. Inevitably, after nearly giving up twice, my quest successfully led to the mouse trap - I found the shop, the cheese, and about a hundred deliciously stink reasons to never leave. Neal's Yard Dairy, as my fromage mecca turned out to be named, was my masochistic heaven - so many cheeses to choose from...but how could I possibly make such a choice? Fortunately, the man behind the counter (clearly with the best job in the world) let me sample anything I wanted. Dangerous. Unfortunately, we were on a time budget, otherwise I know I would have spent the entire day feasting.

After a few samples, I contented myself with a £2 ($3.60) slab of "STRONG" Colston Bassett Stilton. While I procrastinating leaving the shop, I learned that the massive wheels of cheese lining the wall behind me (to the left in the photo) were local Montgomery Cheddar (from Somerset, England), being aged to approximately 18 months. I'd never be able to wait that long. The lucky cheese man gave me a small sample of one that was ready for sale, and with that final deliciously nutty cheddar, I figured I should leave. I'd never tasted a cheddar like it, and I soon learned that it is aptly known as the best cheddar in the world. I would have to agree.

I was finally dragged out of Neal's, only to talk about it almost all day long, which was how long I managed to make my slab of Stilton last, despite the constant urge to devour it. And so, this little mouse left the trap. I'm still craving Neal's delights, and managed to discover that Neal's distributes to a select lucky few cheese shops in North America, including Les Amis du Fromage, a mere FIVE blocks from my apartment! Needless to say, I sit here happily sampling both Montgomery Cheddar and Colston Bassett Stilton, at a premium price, of course. I have a feeling that since I still have very strong desires to taste the stink and revel in the wondrousness of British cheese. I'm going to be endlessly trapped amidst these never-ending cravings...but that's just fine with me.


1. bay on April 17, 2009

It's an unfortunate addiction isn't it (mainly for my rear end). I WISH cheese in Vancouver wasn't so ridiculously overpriced. We went to a fromagerie in Quebec and paid $10 for what would probably have cost about $30 here in Vancouver... I was in heaven!

The Borough Markets are the absolute best. Every time I go to London it's an unmissable event. Next time, if you haven't already, you should grab a coffee from Monmouth Coffee, which is right at the markets. Sooooo good!

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About Lindsay Young

Living in Vancouver, loving my home of Toronto, and missing it too. Educated in Geography and Tourism Marketing, but not doing a whole lot right now - trying to figure out what I want to do.
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