I'd like to put together a cheese plate for my upcoming Christmas party. Do you know anything about cheese, and where can I get some good cheese?
Lucky for you there are great stinky cheese shops all over town that offer the world's finest wheels. And in every cheese shop there is a staff with an alarming amount of cheese knowledge. While generally friendly, these gourmand-types can also be intimidating, so it’s helpful to think about what you want in advance. If you’re totally clueless, start with a flavour you want to base your plate around and ask the staff for a cheese that will pair nicely with it. We suggest starting with Stilton, a Christmas classic because it peaks in the winter months. You could also build the plate around a favourite wine, or an accompaniment like olives or apples. Aim for three to five cheeses of different textures and flavours —a soft, a semisoft, and a hard cheese, for example. The cheese shop employees will help you make a selection, but we're happy to tell you that the only way to know what cheese you'd like to feed your guests is to eat loads of it yourself.
One of London’s best-known cheese shops is La Fromagerie. Occasionally they offer tastings and special meals, but the staff friendliness is hit or miss. Neal’s Yard Dairy is a great shop with friendly staff —the one at Borough Market tends to be less crowded. At the higher end is Paxton and Whitfield, on Jermyn Street. An excellent shop, with an informative web site. And if you can bear the crowds this time of year, the Harrod’s staff can help you put together a special cheeseboard.
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