There are hundreds of fine speciality cheese shops up and down the country, but which ones really stand out from the crowd?
What makes a great speciality cheese shop? Of course, you’ll discover the very best classics, artisan and speciality cheeses on the planet. But you’ll also be introduced to new and unusual cheeses you may never have come across before.
You’ll know you’ve found a fantastic cheese shop when every step from buying the cheese to eating it is deliciously enjoyable. With that at the forefront of our cheese-loving minds here are five of our absolute favourites:
1. La Fromagerie – Highbury and Marylebone, London
With its classy all-black façade, La Fromagerie in Highbury is the place to be in the capital for cheese aficionados, with a second shop found a whisker away from Marylebone High Street. Both are so much more than just cheese shops – they create a whole cheese experience.
La Fromagerie is rumoured to be Jamie Oliver’s top choice in London and it’s very easy to see why. With a truly impressive range of fine British and European cheeses, you must spend some time at the walk-in or online Cheese Rooms. And when it comes to choosing the perfect wine pairing for your cheese, La Fromagerie has done the hard work with its expert recommendations.
The Tasting Cafes at each shop are also not to be missed. Here their affineurs will educate you on how to put together the perfect cheese plate showcasing the best cheeses from Britain, France and Italy, which you can enjoy in stylish surroundings. You can also brush up your knowledge at tutored cheese and wine tastings.
Sad cheese fanatics that we are, we counted 336 different cheeses currently available in the fabulous online Cheese Room. But don’t be let that intimidate you. We think the La Fromagerie experience is a must.
2. Town Mill Cheesemonger – Lyme Regis, Dorset
Cheese lovers in or around Lyme Regis should visit the friendly Town Mill Cheesemonger, which offers an array of fine cheeses with a rather unsurprising emphasis on the best West Country produce. You’ll also find popular choices made just over the traditional West Country border such as Barkham Blue (Berkshire) and Stinking Bishop (Gloucestershire), plus a select range of continental favourites including Brie de Meaux, Epoisses and Manchego.
Town Mill Cheesemonger stocks an appealing range of what is imaginatively referred to as ‘non-cheese’ to accompany your purchases. Don’t miss the fantastic biscuits, chutneys, fine wines and cheese accessories. We particularly love the cheese knives and boards by Culinary Concepts.
The shop has won several prestigious awards including the Best New Cheese Retailer at the British Cheese Awards in 2009 as well as the Silver Local Retailer Award at Taste of the West 2010. What’s more, it was hailed as one of Britain’s 10 Best Cheese Shops in The Times last year. At Lovefood we think this reputation is thoroughly well deserved.
3. Yellowwedge Cheese – Twickenham, Middlesex
If you don’t happen to live near a fine cheese shop, it’s great to know many of them now have an online presence. New to cheese cyberspace, yellowwedge cheese in Twickenham has just launched its brand new online offering in addition to its St Margaret’s shop.
Yellowwedge online is starting out with a small selection of cheese boards, but you can expect it to grow hugely in the coming months. We reckon it’ll be every bit as good as the high street shop.
yellowwedge specialises in British classics and artisan cheeses alongside a range of must haves and European cheeses. They tell me they’re renowned for their Brie de Meaux! What’s more, they’re always on the lookout for great new cheeses and products. But don’t expect to find anything here that’s stocked in the supermarkets. Once a cheese gains mass market popularity it’s removed from their shelves.
4. Liverpool Cheese Company – Woolton, Liverpool
Established in 2006, Liverpool Cheese Company is the place to go to celebrate with cheese. This is not the only shop to create hugely fashionable wedding and special occasion cakes made entirely of cheese, but it’s certainly one of the best.
Among the bestsellers is the Jenny Wedding Cake, which is made up of a delightful selection of Cornish Yarg, Snowdonia Extra Mature Cheddar, Delice Cremiers, Cashel Blue and Couer Neufchatel beautifully laced with grapes and figs. Bespoke cakes can also be created to your specifications.
Liverpool Cheese Company stocks a lovely range of cheese gifts including selection boxes, gift baskets and hampers. No matter what you choose, you can be sure their passion for specialist and artisan cheeses will be evident in everything they do.
You can buy British and European cheeses and a range of cheese accompaniments at the shop in Woolton or via their website.
5. The Fine Cheese Company – Bath, Somerset
Finally, we head over to Bath in Somerset and The Fine Cheese Company. You’ll only find artisan cheeses here, some of which can’t be bought anywhere else. Unique British-produced cheeses are sourced directly from the farms and matured at the shop in Bath.
The Fine Cheese Company is pure foodie heaven with a wonderful selection of British and European cheeses, other foods and wine as well as their very own café. You can even choose your favourite cheese, bread, local butter and chutney and ask the chefs to prepare a tasty sandwich for you to enjoy on the spot with a glass of red. What could be more perfect?
The shop commands a great reputation and has been voted one of the best cheese shops in the country as well as the best supplier of mail order cheese and crackers and one of the five best food shop websites. We think their act is a particularly hard one to follow.
Where’s your favourite cheese shop?
If there’s a wonderful speciality cheese shop in your area, please tell us all about it in the comments box below.
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