It was a quiet Wednesday at Borough Market and the tourist hordes were nowhere to be seen. Granted, the market was partially closed and no one gives up a ride in London Eye to see empty stalls. But I was there, visiting Neil’s Yard. Of course I’ve heard about this cheese emporium before but never set my foot through the doors. This is not because of the slightly pungent smell.
I touched and tasted many sorts of cheeses, probably to much frustration for the Neil’s Yard sales man, as I left without buying a morsel of cheese. He was very patient with me however, and knew a lot about his selection. Turns out he was a student (engineering if I remember correctly), but I think he should give up that for a career in cheese.
Neil’s Yard stocks mainly English cheeses (although they have barrel-aged Greek feta too) from 70 different cheesemakers in Britain and Ireland. I know I’ve been exceptionally pessimistic sometimes and complained that England is all about cheddar; Neil’s Yard obviously proves me wrong.
The Coolea, a stronger gouda-looking cheese was definitely my favourite, it had a lovely nutty touch. I also enjoyed the Stinking Bishop and the classic Stilton, but to be honest if I would purchase anything it would be a soft cheese.
I’m always fascinated by specialty shops like this and wish that I too had an extensive knowledge about one food group. I like tea, wine and cheese, but I’m no expert in either field. Closest I can come is salty liquorice and that doesn’t give any kudos.
Neil’s Yard also has a sister company, the splendid Monmouth Coffee, which is just around the corner from the cheese shop at Borough Market (there is also one in Covent Garden). If you have extra time on your hands, I’d recommend first getting a coffee with a delicious pastry at Monmouth (some say this is the best coffee in London) and then heading straight to the cheese shop. Go on, get that Coolea.