I’ll admit that I’ve haven’t been to every dairy place in the United States, so I’m sure that there may be places like the cheese shop I’m about to mention. So let’s keep national pride out of the following conversation, shall we?
Now, with that being said, I have never been to a cheese shop like the one I had visited yesterday at the Borough Market. Walking into Neal’s Yard Dairy , I was confronted, not just by a display like the one pictured below, but also by shelf upon shelf of large wheels of cheddars, stiltons, orkneys, and other types of cheeses. I thought I had died and gone to artery-hardening heaven. Picture a flock of cherubs flying about, touting horns, and holding banners that said “Glorious Cheeses for your pleasure”, and you’ll have some idea of experience I had upon walking through the door of the shop.
I nearly wept with joy when the folks at the counter offered me a taste of anything that they had for sale. These were farm cheeses, made with care and know-how, with techniques thought as too “cost-prohibitive” by places such as Kraft and Tillamook. I have been to many a cheese shop in the United States, from Beecher’s Cheese at Pike Place to dairies run by the Amish in Eastern Pennsylvania, and I have never come across a place like this.
After a wait of about ten minutes in line, I got to the counter and picked out two cheeses to hold me over for the Holidays. I’ll mention one later, but I do wish to speak about the Stichelton.
The taste was quite lively. This should not be a surprise, as blue cheeses quite often are, what with their tangy flavors. But within these cheese held a bit of creamy subtleties that quite surprised me, with notes of citrus and apples within.
But what made me fall in love with this cheese was the unexpected smoothness of the texture. Many a blue that I have come across in my lifetime have this slight grittiness about them. Some might say that this is a feature and not a bug. On a good day, I might be inclined to agree.
That is, until today. For today was the first time I had happened upon a blue where where the texture rolled off of the tongue almost like a well made, albeit a bit firmer mozzarella.
As I was enjoying this cheese last night after a long day of walking and shopping, I realized just how lucky I was. Neal’s Yard Dairy is a British cheese shop that puts nearly all American cheese shops to shame, and makes a mockery of the supermarket cheeses available to us.
Look, I know I said that we should leave National pride out of this. But let’s face facts. We Americans could be doing much better at cheeses. That we don’t is simply a sad testament to the state of our food culture.
Get it? Culture? Cheese? See what I did there? Yeah, okay, I’ll apologize for that.
UPDATE: The housekeepers here left the windows open in order to get rid of the smell of the stichelton, so it is a bit of an aromatic cheese.