neal’s yard dairy, london
Reporting from Bologna, Italy – CIAO!
As expected, Europe has been a blast! The first few days were spent with my dear (!) sister gallivanting in London, then across to Paris via the Eurostar. Then K landed in Paris, joining us for some Bastille Day fun. K and I then journeyed across Spain (Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona), did Rome in culture-vulture style and now we are in Bologna.
Looking back, one of the places I really adored in London was Neal’s Yard Dairy. In recent years, Neal’s Yard Dairy has become known for pioneering the return of cheese as an ‘in’ food. The dairy has a well and hard earned reputation for representing and supporting cheesemakers in Britain and across the European continent.
The store is on a short laneway at the backside of the busy Borough Market (a post for another day). Among the milks, yogurts and creams, the obvious star attraction of the dairy is the cheese counter. There is an ungodly number of cheese wheels in this room alone and it is a cheese lover’s paradise! Tourists who stumble upon the shop stare, mouths agape, while those in the know jostle for the attention of one of the cheese attendants.
Along the counter, cheeses are presented in groups – hard, washed rind and blue, to name a few. All cheeses are at room temperature (fridges are the enemy of cheese!) and both young and mature versions of each cheese are displayed and sold. Logs of soft cheeses ooze unctuously, wheels of parmesan are splintered for tastings and the smell is absolutely divine.
Upon hearing our enthusiasm for cheddar, the cheesemonger went crazy with the tastings, urging us to taste and find a cheese to love and take home. Which is just as well, as Neal’s Yard could be the global HQ for English cheddar. I think we tasted something like four wheels of cheddar, ranging from young to very sharp. Eventually, we picked a semi mature English cheddar and the cheesemonger readily obliged our ‘very small wedge please’ request with pleasure.
We walk out of Neal’s Yard with said cheddar, half a wheel of unpasteurised farmhouse goats’ cheese and a tub of Guernsey cream. The cream is produced solely from the milk of the namesake Guernsey cows. The cream is so thick it seemed like one churn away from evolving into butter – perfect with berries from Borough Market. The goats cheese, a variant called Finn, is a firm young cheese and has a surprisingly mild flavour with a depth that can only come from raw milk.
The cheddar, well that was just amazing – slightly waxy, crumbly and with a complex taste. We were helplessly addicted to it, repeatedly nibbling on the wedge like obsessed mice.
Cheese lovers, let alone cheddar lovers, if you are ever in London, pay homage to Neal’s Yard – you won’t regret it. Apart from the sheer variety of cheeses, the staff at Neal’s Yard Dairy share their genuine passion and enthusiasm freely, which is something you will never find on a tourist map. It’s a refreshing detour from the tourist track and worth combining into a visit to Borough Market.
Neal’s Yard Dairy, 6 Park Street, London SE1 9AB
T: +44 (0)20 7367 0799
Mon – Fri 9 – 6
Sat 8 – 5
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