Neal’s Yard Dairy – A Fabulous Cheese Shop in Borough Market:
Borough Market is on our list of places to visit today, but our timing went a little askew and we arrive to find a pretty shut market. The day would have ended on a highly disappointing note, except that on leaving the market hall we stumble upon Neal’s Yard Dairy. This cheese shop, stacked to the ceiling with huge wheels of cheese, is such a welcoming sight for cheese lovers.
It’s a quiet time in the late afternoon so Cal (the shop attendant) is happy to talk to us and tell us about some of the English cheeses in the shop. He offers us some cheeses to taste, names of which we are not familiar with, but they taste really fantastic. We would love to take supplies of these cheeses home, but our fellow plane passengers may not approve of the strong smell of the Stilton or other blue cheeses. More to the point, Australia has strict restrictions on food importation and certainly unpasteurised cheese is mostly not permitted, apart from Roquefort.
Neal’s Yard’s History
When Neal’s Yard opened on July 4, 1979 they were selling Greek style yoghurts, crème fraiche and fresh cheeses. One day, a cheesemaker by the name of Hilary Charnley sent in a sample of her Devon Garland cheese to Randolph, owner of Neal’s Yard. Although the cheese wasn’t in good condition, it nevertheless tasted good. What excited Randolph was that there was a real person, not a machine producing this cheese. Randolph went to visit Hilary Charnley’s farm in a battered old Citroen 2CV, and at her suggestion also visited other farms in the area. He returned laden with farm cheese. Thus began the idea of buying farm cheeses.
Neal’s Yard Today
Neal’s Yard buys cheese from about seventy cheesemakers on farms around Britain and Ireland and sell the cheese in their two shops in London as well as to shops and restaurants all over the world.
They keep in close contact with cheesemakers on one hand and customers on the other to ensure that what’s produced meets customers’ liking. Randolph selects Neal’s Yard’s cheddars by visiting the West Country every eight weeks and through tasting young cheese, selects the batches that will be matured on for them.
Many of the cheeses they buy are either matured on the farm or in Neal’s Yard’s own maturing rooms in Bermondsey. A team of five take care of the cheese, turning the cheeses and sometimes brushing or washing them until they ripen.
The mature cheese is sent out to their shops or exported all over the world.
So, if you love good cheese, call into Neal’s Yard on your visit to Borough Market. You can do cheese tasting classes at Neal’s Yard to learn more about the types of cheese and cheese making.
6 Park Street
London SE1 9AB
Tel: +44 (0)20 7367 0799