Hooks for Cooks™

When my children and I were touring around London last February, I decided that the simplest and most efficient way to see the city was to buy tickets to the ubiquitious red tour buses. My theory was indeed successful because we covered a lot of territory, hopping on and off at whim. This mode of transportation, however, also became a sneaky way for me to visit one of my favorite shops in London–Neal’s Yard Dairy at the Borough Market. my-cheese-platter

I first visited this extraordinary cheese shop more than ten years ago when I was writing an article for The Wall Street Journal Europe entitled, “At Neal’s Yard, The Cheese Does Not Stand Alone.” The jist of the article discussed Randolph Hodgson’s extraordinary efforts to transform the historic Borough Market into a “destination” market. The market dates back to the 11th century and hit its heyday in the 1800s.

Hodgson, who owns Neal’s Yard and has spearheaded the artisan cheese revival in the United Kingdom, sensed the market would die if more high-quality purveyors didn’t set up shop there. Indeed, when I visited the market back in 1998, things were shifting but there was still lots to be done.

When my two sons and I hopped off the double decker tour bus, we bypassed the creapy London Dungeon and headed right for the Market. I was so pleasantly surprised to see the hordes of shoppers and extraordinary purveyors such as The Ginger Pig and Sillfield Farms. The boys, ages 11 and 6, were enthralled with the activity and the selection of goodies to choose from.

After we marveled at the displays and grabbed a wonderful hand held pie, we headed to nearby Neal’s Yard Dairy. Navigating a cobblestone street, we found our way and the boys were googly eyed at the massive wheels of English cheese and the selection at hand. We were leaving London the next day and heading out to my husband’s uncle’s home in Oxfordshire. A traditional Sunday lunch was planned for the extended family of more than 20 people, so I decided to bring some cheese. The choice was hard!!

The cheese specialist was informative and patient and even offered samples to the boys. My six year old liked the Sparkenhoe Red Leicester, so I went with a small hunk of that. I steered clear of anything too stinky given the fact that I was taking the tour bus back to the hotel and opted for Colston Bassett Stilton, Stichelton, and Montgomery’s Cheddar. Even though I had a fridge in our two bedroom two bath apartment rental, I opted to store the cheese on the windowsill overnight.

So, our cheeses made a very impressive platter for Sunday’s family luncheon!

For more information on our trip to England, please see my blog post featured on Amazon’s Al Dente blog.

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