Cultivation of a Cheesemonger

A Blog of Cheese Culture and Cultures

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Neal’s Yard Dairy is a world renowned cheese shop in London that buys cheese from about seventy cheesemakers on farms around Britain and Ireland and sells the cheese in our two shops in London and to shops and restaurants all over the world.   Many cheeses that are received are aged by Neal’s Yard Dairy staff in maturing rooms in Bermondsey which are in brick railway arches under the main line from London Bridge to Dover.

The staff is also very impressive in that they can heave, toss, and catch heavy cylinders of cheese to be able to place them on the wooden aging shelves! (watch the video to see it!)

This video, created by Neal’s Yard Dairy is an excellent documentation of the cheesemaking process beginning with the animals and terroir and ending with the delivery of cheese to the consumer.  It is really awe inspiring to me to see so much of the work being done by hand.

A coworker shared this video with me and I would like to share it with you. I invite you to take a few moments to really get to know your cheese

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How to Eat Cheese: Advice from Cheesemongers

“How do you remember the tastes of all of these cheeses?” A customer said to me one day.

And this got me to thinking – How does a cheesemonger remember all of the cheeses that are in the case

The shop I work in has around 300 cheeses.  When I began working I have to admit that  I didn’t know where – or how – to begin.  I started by trying cheeses I had never seen before and those that I’d always wanted to try and others still that looked interesting or had intriguing descriptions.  However, I just wasn’t retaining all of the the cheese-taste connections in my memory.  A few exceptionally delicious ones did stay glued in my head, but many others unstuck before the shift was over.

Do all cheeses from the Piedmont region of Italy taste the same?

My cheesemonger companions gave me some excellent advice – which was to select a few cheeses from a major cheese category (soft, semi-soft, firm, blue-veined, and fresh) and taste them.  Compare them to one another – is one more grassy or citrusy than the other?  Does one have a creamier texture while one more dense and fudgy?  Once you develop a good foundation, you can begin creating your own categories – perhaps by trying various goat tommes or only cheeses from Spain.  Approaching cheese tasting in this manner will help you better remember the names and tastes of the cheeses you try, learn what types of cheeses you like (or don’t like,) and the diversity of flavors within any one category of cheese and you will begin to have the confidence to navigate yourself around the cheese counter.

And as always, you can always ask advice from your cheesemonger!