Neal’s Yard Dairy (London)
I first bumped into Neal’s magnificently pungent world about 3 years ago while visiting London’s Borough Market. It was in the beginning of February. We were freezing our asses off, toes as good as numb, stubbornly following our tourist guide book that promised to take us on a foodie tour. Proved to be worthwhile. Pork belly sandwiches, hot Thai and Indian curries, burgers, mediterranean mezze, game… Our tour brought us in front of Neal’s cheese shop. Cheese heaven!
We declared it time for an appetizer and munched away on tiny samples of cheese offered by the staff. I remember we went for a generous slice of rich Hawes Wensleydale cheese from North Yorkshire, England. Bought a coarse salt and thyme bun at Borough Market a little further. Great nibbles.
Enough history, back to reality! We’re in London again a couple of years later, tourist guide on iPhone this time and on a walking trip around the Covent Garden area. But look who’s also here: the other Neal’s Dairy Yard shop!Sounds like we’re in for a second early evening cheese snack. But our e-guide sends us wrongly into the tourist nest at Covent Garden, claiming the cheese shop is right there. Not. Hubby asks 5 waiters where we can find it but they haven’t heard of the place before. At last a stall vendor points us in the right direction. That’s how 3 years later we’re back on Neal’s threshold with an appetite! This shop is smaller than the one near Borough Market but the collection of cheeses is equally impressive. See, that’s what makes it so interesting for us. We know quite something about French cheeses but English cheeses are pretty much unknown grounds. Cheddar, that’s about it. I bet the minute you walk into this shop you will start wondering why you haven’t heard about English cheeses before. The staff is pretty busy behind the counter helping other customers so we wait in line for our turn to come. A very polite and friendly ginger bearded lad in a tidy uniform soon asks if he can be of any help.
Hubby explains we are here in London for a night and plan on taking some cheese home with us so how about 4 cheeses. He’s free to choose which ones but there has to be at least one cheddar and one blue cheese. Excellent says the lad and starts to take us on a brief tour, slicing off bits of cheese to sample so we can decide which ones we like. I like this service. Prompt and friendly staff members who know what they are talking about.
About 5 minutes later we have made our choice. I ask him for the names of the cheeses so I can write them down but he says he will label each cheese separately. Nice, thanks!
So here are the goodies we took home…
St. JamesMade of unpasteurized sheep’s milk by Martin Gott at Holker Farm Dairy, Cumbria. Rich and creamy cheese with a beautiful thin rind. I liked this cheese best served at room temperature. See how it oozes out!
Kirkham’s LancashireMade of unpasteurized cow’s milk by Graham Kirkham at Lower Beesley Farm, Lancashire. The description says is all: buttery, crumbly, rich, with a pleasant dairy flavor and the necessary salty tangs. Think this one is my favorite.
Montgomery’s CheddarMade of unpasteurized cow’s milk by Jamie Montgomery and Steve Bridges at Manor Farm, Somerset. Beautifully crumbly and dry but still creamy in the mouth, nutty with sweet and salty accents. Delicious…
SticheltonMade of unpasteurized organic cow’s milk by Joe Schneider at Collingthwaite Farm, Nottinghamshire. A lovely blue cheese, very rich and creamy, nutty and sweet. Crumbled it on top of a fresh lettuce, red cabbage soup or a pecan nut salad. Perfect.
We pay a total of £15,25 for 1 lb (450 g) of English cheeses, ask the lad where the best pub nearby is (he recommends the Cross Keys, indeed a very good choice) and walk out into the early evening hubbub.
Neal’s Yard Dairy (Borough Market)
6 Park Street
Neal’s Yard Dairy (Covent Garden)
17 Shorts Gardens