OK, so I realised I don’t know much about cheese (apart from what I like) but hey, I’m more willing than ever to learn. Yesterday evening, I was invited to a cheese tasting at La Cave à Fromage by the lovely people at Qype. Among my fellow diners were Rob and Urbanite from Qype, Chris Osburn from Londonist, Lea from Unchained, Timinator (who is lactose intolerant – that’s dedication), John from GCap Media and the lovely Krista from Londonelicious (who even did a bit of live blogging!).
On arrival, we were each presented with a slate, upon which the La Cave people had lovingly placed wedges of different types of – you guessed it – cheese – and some fig paste. I can’t remember the names of all the cheeses (bad blogger, slaps on wrist..) but I can remember a little. The first (top right) is a brie, good and ripe, followed by a hard, ewe’s milk cheese called ‘Lord of the Hundreds’ with a long finish – the gift that kept on giving. I thought I could taste a slight nuttiness too. Our host and shop owner Amnon told us how the sensation of crystals (often mistaken for salt) in hard cheeses is actually the reaction of enzymes in your mouth – who knew?
The name of the third cheese I’m afraid I can’t remember but it was another hard variety, followed by a creamy, tangy blue and an oozing Epoisses. Finally, we tried a goat cheese, which was quite unlike any other I have tried – like a little fluffy cloud in texture and extremely peppery in flavour. Amnon suggested we taste the cheeses alone first, then take a sip of red or white wine and note how a completely new flavour is formed.
While we’re on the subject of drinks, I think I can confidently say we were all surprised when Amnon produced an “alcoholic drink” made from whey – yep, a tipple made from the by-product of cheese-making. Waste not want not that’s what I say. It was 12.9% abv if I remember rightly but it tasted far stronger. I thought it tasted a bit like sherry while Krista thought it tasted like port so you’re on your own with this one. Anyone out there tried it?
The staff were so passionate about the cheese and it was so, so good that I really felt embarrassed about some of the supermarket offerings that have previously passed my lips. Everything in the shop is carefully designed too – no counters or glass barriers, so the customer can really get up close and personal. It makes perfect sense – how are you supposed to feel when everything is behind a glass case? Say no to obstacles between you and your cheese.
I have to say, I am more than a little envious of South Ken residents at this point. They have the most fantastic selection of cheeses at their fingertips, delivered with a serious dollop of passion. Sorry, did someone say delivery? Because they do that too, of course.You can enjoy your own tasting at La Cave or just pick up greedy amounts of fromage to take home along with some cured meats, bread, wine and a warm fuzzy feeling..
La Cave à Fromage
24-25 Cromwell Place
T. 0845 10 88 222