People might come to London expecting the streets to be paved with gold, but what they’ll quickly discover is that the streets are, in fact, smeared with cheese. We live in a city obsessed with the stuff, we devour its mouldy milky goodness by the ton, it underpins our society and it’s more more-ish than crack cocaine. What’s more, the people who sell the stuff are mongers. And we love a monger. Hurrah for mongers. Please can we have more mongers? Where are the phonemongers? The 3dprintermongers? We’ve only got ironmongers, fishmongers, cheesemongers and warmongers in here at the moment, which makes for a weird party. So without further ado, I’ll start some wordmongery and list some of the best places to buy cheese in the capital…
It’s the best known cheesemonger in London, step back in time at this olde worlde Jermyn Street store that will take your breath away. Literally, cheese shops seriously pong. The range at Paxton & Whitfield is extraordinary, and with a client list that includes pretty much every high-profile dinner party in London, this is the place to come to fill your cheeseboard. After all, the queen does!
We’re Neal-y in heaven when we head to Neal’s Yard Dairy, as the pleasantly pungent air hits our nostrils and we’re transported to rural France, Wensleydale or, um, Cheddar Gorge. The Covent Garden cheesy destination also run various workshops and masterclasses each month, so learn and churn.
Cave a look at this! South Kensington’s La Cave à Fromage serve a wide array of cheeses, favouring (clue’s-in-the-name) French cheese, but also featuring those of Europe and the UK. Not only is this a cheese chop extraordinaire, it’s also a place to sit, enjoy cheese, charcuterie and wine. They also cater for anyone fancying a cheese wedding cake, the ultimate expression of affection for cheese lovers.
There’s something cheese-wheelie good going on at Buchanans Cheesemonger. The shop, established by chef Rhuaridh Buchanan, works with some of the country’s most respected cheese makers, affineurs (someone who ages cheese) and artisans. Having cheffed in some of the country’s smartest restaurants, Buchanan knows a whole lot about how to serve cheese, and students of cheese can make their way to the Connaught Village shop to learn at his knee at one of the many events held at the on-site cheese school.
East London hipster hangout Shoreditch has, of course, got a vegan cheesemonger. But if you reckon this is just an exercise in being contrarian, then think again, there’s actually something rather special going on here. The painfully trendy shop is the UK’s first plant based cheese shop, inspired by the same luxurious cheese options enjoyed by us milk drinkers, but created to suit anyone with an ethical or health reason to give traditional cheeses a miss.
Quite literally the opposite of a rip-off, Rippon Cheese is a Pimlico cheese destination. The shop was the brainchild of husband and wife team Philip and Karen Rippon, and has been wafting great smells down Upper Tachbrook Street since 1990. They stock over 500 cheeses from across Europe and the UK, as well as cheesy accoutrements like biscuits, pickles and jams.
The City of London is the fulcrum of white hot technology and advancement, a place where complicated algorithms written by rocket scientist PHDs make faceless corporations millions of pounds and where modernity is written into the very fabric of the buildings, as giant glass skyscrapers climb into the air daily. Except in Leadenhall Market. Set in the dead centre of the square mile, the Victorian arcade feels like a preserved slice of London, frozen in about 1900. And that suits us. Particularly when it comes to buying cheese at Cheese at Leadenhall. The traditional cheesemongers don’t just sell cheeses to stink our the trading floor as it heats up in your bag over the day, but they also do a great line in casual dining. Serving up a lunch of Swiss raclette and a bottle of red wine, could your day go any better?