LINCOLNSHIRE POACHER & BERKSWELL
There are few things that excite me more than a delivery of cheese from our friends at Neal’s Yard Dairy in London. Neal’s Yard Dairy is the world’s premier affineur, retailer, and exporter of farmhouse cheeses from the British Isles. Randolph Hodgson founded Neal’s Yard as a London cheese shop in the early 1980s and now works with over 40 artisan cheesemakers across the UK and Ireland. Hodgson and his team select young cheeses and mature them in their cellars (the Maturation Arches) adjacent to the Tower of London, bringing the best-unripened cheese to glorious fruition.
Neal’s Yard’s work with small-scale, traditional cheesemakers has revitalized long-forgotten British Territorial recipes (like long-aged Stilton and clothbound Wensleydale) and helped to develop new award-winning cheeses.
Each week, Neal’s Yard calls me after tasting through their maturation rooms, determining which cheeses are ready for sale and where they are destined in the world. They know what I like and their candid evaluation of what is good, what needs time and care, and what we shouldn’t buy is a refreshing approach in a world of the blowhard, over-the-top salesmanship. I trust Neal’s Yard to select the best cheeses for our shop, just as they trust me to care for and present their cheeses to you in optimum condition. This weekend, after 6 weeks of travel, we received our latest delivery of Neal’s Yard cheeses.
I was stunned after cracking a 40-pound wheel of Lincolnshire Poacher $29/lb which turns 2 years old today.
This cheddar-alpine hybrid reminds me of the ancient French Cantal: juicy pineapple acidity complements a roasted, meaty backbone that leaves your mouth watering. A perennial staff favorite, Lincolnshire will undoubtedly be on my holiday cheeseboard.
We also received a hearty stack of Berkswell $38/lb, a remarkable raw sheep’s milk cheese with a UFO-like shape and multicolored natural rind.
Berkswell is made by a team of six women at Ram Hall Dairy in England’s West Midlands, where they strain warm cheese curds between two colanders to give the cheese its iconic shape. The April 28th, 2017 batch we received treads the line between an aged Manchego and a Pyrenées Tomme de Brebis, fruity with notes of toasted hay and stewed vegetables and a firm, shavable texture.
I love this cheese with our new Marchesi di San Giuliani Marmalade $16 (available in orange and red grapefruit) and the quenching Vino Lauria 2015 Grillo $19.99.
BROT BAKERY STOLLEN & PANETTONE FROM NEAR AND FAR
Fruitcakes and holiday breads get a bad wrap. Beyond your grandmother’s cloyingly sweet doorstop of a fruit loaf and that technicolored, booze-soaked atrocity collecting dust in your pantry.
There is a world of delicious, traditionally made holiday breads. Take the Brot Bakery Stollen $18, for example.
Our favorite German baker, Heike Meyer, crafts these extraordinary Dresdner Christollen in her bakehouse and school in nearby Fairfax–all in accordance with centuries-old traditions from Saxony. Heike mills all of her grains herself, combining this heritage wheat flour with pasture butter, milk, sweet and bitter almonds, currants, raisins, citrus peel, sugar, honey, spices, and yeast. The result is a decadent, fudgy loaf that is exquisite with sweet wines, coffee, and tea. These get better with age, requiring a minimum of one week of curing
I’ll be eating mine on Christmas morning with soft cheese (Little Dickens $15/pc).
Heike will be in the shop this upcoming Saturday from 5-7pm to taste these breads and share the lore and traditions of Dresdner Christollen.
Another great local option for holiday breads is Slowfire Bakery’s ethereal Panettone $15.
These naturally-leavened, wood-fired breads have a fluffy, brioche-like texture with vibrant aromatics and a golden-brown crust. Fresh eggs from Boneyard Farm in Bakersfield and cultured butter from Vermont Creamery lend a yolky, blonde color to these breads studded with brandied cherries, candied orange peel, and Meyer lemon zest.
We’ll have a very limited quantity of these freshly baked on Saturday morning–send me an email if you would like one reserved.
Looking for the classic Italian panettone? We’ve got you covered with traditional holiday breads from Piedmont and Abruzzo. The party-sized Albertengo Panettone Tradizionale $45 is topped with Piedmontese hazelnut icing and is perfect with Champagne, while the Rustichella d’Abruzzo $35 Panettone $35 with raisins and candied citrus, loves Moscato d’Asti and Velenosi Visciole $22.99–a dessert wine from the Marche vinified with cherries. Look for these ribboned delicacies by our holiday mantel display.
NEW CHEESE TOOLS, BOARDS, & FONDUE SETS FROM HOLLAND
Want to take your cheese game to the next level?
Check out our new selection of cheese tools and accessories from Boska Holland. Look next to our pantry for our new Oak Cheese Slicer $15 to samples and serve cheese just like we do at our Food Counter.
Bundle the offset Soft Cheese Knife $15, Semisoft Cheese Knife $15, and an XL Slate Cheese Board $40 for the ultimate gift for the tyrophile in your life.
We also have a limited quantity of Girolle $35 in the shop, a tool developed by the Swiss to create “rosettes”, or delicate flowers of shavable cheese.
If you’d like to see this cheese curler in action, come into our Wine Bar this week to sample Tête de Moine $29/lb on our all Swiss Alpine Cheese Board.
This “monk’s head” cheese from the Bernese Jura dates back to the 12th Century, and has the flavor of a young Gruyère, with brothy, buttery aromas.
If you missed our Fondue Party this last Sunday, you can still find everything you need at the shop to throw your own, from the pre-grated cheeses in our Fondue Kit $25/lb, to the Tapas Fondue Pots $35 from Boska.
Have your own vintage set? Our cheesemongers have the perfect fondue recipe and a selection of cheeses ranging from traditional (Vacherin Fribourgeois $34/lb and Gruyère 1655 $28/lb) to local (Alpha Tolman $25/lb and Springbrook Reading Raclette $18/lb). Whether you’re making italian fonduta, mexican queso fundido, or moitié-moitié Swiss Alpine fondue, we have everything you need to realize your hot melty cheese dreams.
Artisan Food Manager