As if Notting Hill doesn’t already have an unfair number of exquisite food and drink shops, this smart affineur and cheesemonger has just opened in the heart of the Portobello Road Market. Owned by cheese connoisseurs Amnon Paldi and Eric Charriaux, this is the third and flagship branch of the original in South Kensington (another is in Brighton), and has a younger, hipper vibe.
La Cave sells over 250 regularly-changing seasonal cheeses sourced directly from cheesemakers from the UK, France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. Its speciality is cheeses matured in-house, often for several months, and washed in alcohol such as cider, whisky and rum.
For the festive season, shop manager Guillhaume Dherouville recommends Stilton in jars, either plain (£18.50) or washed in port (£19.50). He also suggests Coin de Piccadilly, a mustard-coloured cow’s cheese washed in pastis, and sumptuous Brillat-Savarin flavoured with black truffles. Mont d’Or baked in the oven is another that’s ideal for parties.
Additionally, there are over 20 regional French wines and champagnes available to buy by the bottle or glass; plus L’Epicurien comfitures, locally baked baguettes that are remarkably fresh, and a small selection of sandwiches, salads and pastries. There’s also a good choice of British charcuterie from Trealy Farm, including salamis, cured meats and terrines.
Seats are scattered throughout the spacious, handsome-looking store (including two compact rooms in the basement), where cheese and meat platters can be enjoyed with wine. Regular tasting events are also held; forthcoming dates include Balanced Cheeseboard (9 January 2014), Cheeses and Sparkling Wines (16 January), and Washed Rind Cheeses (23 January).
If you’re throwing a retro dinner party, raclette and fondue sets are available for hire; and there are cheese hampers priced from £69 to £245. With highly knowledgeable staff trained at La Cave’s own Cheese Academy and top-notch produce, this west London newbie is sure to put a smile on your face faster than you can say ‘cheese’.
La Cave à Fromage is at 148 Portobello Road, W11 2DZ. Written by Sejal Sukhadwala
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