We are starting a new feature on our Boozy Bunch blog called Showcase. We’ll be sharing a group of our favourite vendors in these posts.
I’m kicking off this series by sharing my favourite cheeses of Borough Market. Some foodies may turn their nose up at Borough Market, calling it too touristy but for me, I don’t really mind going anywhere in search of good food.
Borough Market is located next to London Bridge station and is arguably the premier if not one of the largest food markets in London. The original market claims to go back to 1014 but the present buildings have been standing since 1851. They have a mixture of raw food, artisanal food products as well as cooked food vendors. It’s a colourful melange but be aware that it can get very crowded at peak times.
Cheese is one of the main products you’ll find at Borough Market with many countries of origin represented, pitting continental cheeses against our own home-grown varities. Most vendors offer free tastings, so you can try before you buy. To be honest, there are few bad cheeses at Borough Market but these are my personal favourites and you’ll find at least one of these cheeses in my fridge at any time:
The Parma Ham & Mozzarella Stand
This is always my first stop on my visits to Borough Market. At his succinctly named stall, Philip Crouch sells the most delicious imported Italian charcuterie and mozzarella. A very quick diversion to recommend the most gorgeous Parma riserva ham before I tell you about the unpasteurised buffalo mozzarella from Campagnia, which is silkily soft and tastes of sunshine and grass-fed goodness. If you believe that mozzarella doesn’t taste of much, come and try this – it will change your mind completely about mozzarella. They also sell burrata, which has a much more creamy centre as they add cream into the manufacturing process. I often serve the mozzarella in a classic tricolore salad with tomatoes (get the sweetest you can afford) and fresh basil leaves, finished off with a simple balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing and a final grating of fresh lemon zest.
Two stalls along from the Parma Ham & Mozzarella Stand, you’ll find Jumi Cheese where Juerg and Mike bring their range of artisanal cheese from the Emmental region of Switzerland. I stop here specifically for their Belper Knolle cheese. When you first cast eyes on this raw cow’s milk cheese, its blackish pepper coating and shape makes you think it’s a black truffle, especially as it’s usually sitting on or next to a mini slicer. However, get them to grate you a few slivers onto your palm and when you eat it, your world will change. It tastes like Parmesan times 10. A real hit of umami with peppery spikes makes this cheese a great addition to anything that you would add Parmesan to – pasta, risotto, salads, even grilled meats. Belper Knolle was given as a gift to Prince Charles and Camilla when they re-opened a section of Borough Market on Valentine’s Day 2013.
Alsop & Walker
The first of my British cheeses is made by Arthur Alsop and Nicholas Walker down in East Sussex. They produce the Lord London, a soft cheese which was served at the Royal wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton but I want to tell you about their Mayfield, a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese, which is creamy, sweet and nutty. It’s the perfect eating cheese that I try to always have on hand for munching on.
Bath Soft Cheese Co.
Next door to Alsop & Walker, I pick up my favourite blue cheese in the market. Apparently, I’m in good company inn enjoying this classic blue-veined cheese as their pedigree stretches back to the 1790s, listing Admiral Lord Nelson amongst their many admirers.
A relative newcomer to Borough Market, Debbie Vernon’s flock of 300 pedigree goats in Kent’s North Downs provide her with milk to sell raw and to make pasteurised and unpasteurised cheeses. Her signature cheese is Shaggy’s Beard, a camembert style cheese, which starts off creamy and mild when young and ripens to a more mature flavour. I usually get this as well as the wonderfully tangy goat’s curd, which I use in salads and to top soups.
One of the quintessential smells of Borough Market is that of Bill Oglethorpe’s Ogleshield cheese melting raclette style under huge heaters to be served over a pile of new potatoes, baby gherkins and pickled onions. If that doesn’t make you drool, you should have your taste buds checked.
I do buy other cheeses at Borough Market but these tried and tested favourites are the best for me. Please look out for a post in the near future by Linzi with advice on how to put together the perfect cheeseboard -read about it here. I’ll also be following up with some advice on how to get the most out of your cheeses once you’ve bought them
8 Southwark Street, Southwark, London SE1 1TL