During my visits to London, I tend systematically to buy cheese, English cheese that is, to bring back home to Paris… to my French wife and family. Coals to Newcastle you might think! But, no. We happen to believe that the Brits have some of the finest cheeses going, enough to hold their own any day against the Tommes, Crottins and Bries of the world. It came as a major surprise to me that Britain’s cheese exports amount to a dismal $374 million versus $2.7 billion for France, $2.4B for Germany and $2.1B for Holland (FAO via wikipedia) … It turns out, of course, that the UK isn’t even in the top 10 cheese producers in the world either.
To name a few of the celebrated cheese halls I tend to visit in London, there is Selfridge’s, Harrods and Whole Foods on Kensington High Street, testament enough that there is definitely a good cheese culture in England. However, I have two special addresses to share with you:
La Fromagerie on Moxon Street (London W1U 4EW; tel: +44 20 7935 0341), which remains my absolute favourite cheese shop in London. Here I picked up my usual suspects (CORNISH YARG and STICHELTON, a sumptuous Stiltonesque cheese from unpasteurised milk). And, along the way, I picked up some great advice on how to store your hard cheeses from the resident Maître de Comte, Gabriel: put the cheese, unwrapped, in a tupperware with a couple of cubes of sugar. You can store the cheese as such in the fridge for a couple of months. Merci Monsieur Gabriel.
And, at the South Kensington tube station, there is La Cave à Fromage (24-25 Cromwell Place, London SW7 2LD; tel: +44 845 10 88 222). Aside from the fact that the owner went beyond the call of duty to get me a reservation and a glass of champagne at a restaurant, late on a packed Thursday evening (thanks!), I also picked up a glorious MAY HILL GREEN cheese with its nettle coated rind, and sister cheese of the famed Stinking Bishop (BTW, the link sends you to cookipedia which has 21K+ pages of recipes, ingredients, etc.).
So a couple of nettle-related cheeses to recommend when you next go shopping in London, from fromage shops that provide service a slice above!