Sunday, March 18, 2007

Panic! At the cheeseshop

After lunch, the plan was to wander through the back streets of Soho and end up somewhere near Seven Dials (where, I was convinced, I'd find some lovely little thing to wear, which I didn't).

Unfortunately, my sense of direction was slightly off (uncalibrated by too many noodles, no doubt), and we ended up on streets I didn't recognize until suddenly we were on Piccadilly, perfectly positioned to dip into
Fortnum and Masons.

We probably would have been more impressed had we not already been dazzled by Selfridges (on top of which, most visitors were evidently tourists picking up souvenir teabags and elaborately decorated Easter candy). And while there's an extensive produce/charcuterie department in the basement (goose eggs, entire sides of jamon serrano, mangoes bigger and more aromatic than any found at WholeFoods), there weren't many customers; one had to wonder how often the contents of the olive bar were refreshed.

From FoMa we strolled through Picadilly Circus and Leicester Square (where people were already gathering for the exciting premiere of The 300), down St Martin's Lane and through Covent Garden to
Neal's Yard Dairy.

I'd been wanting to check this out for a while; but somehow I'd assumed it was more like a supermarket cheese department, with stuff you can pick up and stuff you can smell. Instead, it's a dark, narrow store, half taken up by a long counter piled high with wheels and wedges, behind which stand a half-dozen white-coated cheesemongers ready to answer all manner of rennet-related questions.

As I'd been hoping to browse, and as the line moved quickly (despite the fact that everyone was being offered multiple samples of whatever the cheese guys had on the end of their knife), I wasn't quite ready to order when it came to our turn. So I kind of panicked and said, "Ummm ... give me something I've never tasted before," hoping to buy some time.

Without hesitation, Cheeseman bent over and took a generous slice from a pale wedge. "Unpasteurized goat's milk," he said, holding out the knife, "thickened with thistle, rather than rennet."

It was creamy, mild, with a delicate caramel note. We took a quarter-pound (and then had to hurriedly figure out how to translate £37 a kilo into old-school weights and measures). Our chunk o' cheez turned out to be just over £3 (or $6, which we'd hesitate over only momentarily in WholeFoods).

The only problem is, I cannot for the life of me remember what it was called. Cardo? Crodo? Corolla? Extensive Googling(™) has yielded no clues. So if anyone can help out, please do!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it Cardoon?

6:05 AM  
Blogger LimeyG said...

I don't think it's cardoon, because I'd have recognized the name. Pretty sure it was a shorter word, maybe ending in O.

It's not listed on the Neal's Yard website; might be something they only have in occasionally.

A mystery!

8:44 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Hi there,
I just was just looking something else up and came across this querie. I used to work at Neal's Yard but now have my own business importing Dutch Farmhouse Cheeses to the UK.

The cheese you are describing is Cardo, basically an abbreviation of the word Cardoon. It is made by Mary Holbrook who has a farm in Somerset. and is matured at Neal's Yard warehouse where the surface is washed in brine.

She also make a few other cracking goats cheeses that are sold at Neal's Yard. She also works at NYD a few days a week as she has invaluable knowledge on the affinage of soft cheeses

Now you know!

12:46 PM  
Blogger LimeyG said...

Thank you Chris! I did guess Cardo, but based on nothing rational whatsoever. It is a fabulous cheese; now that I know what it's called, I'll check to see whether WholeFoods carries it, as they do import a few Neal's Yard varieties.

Thanks again for saving my sanity!!!

2:39 PM  

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