A Trip to Neal’s Yard Dairy
Away on vacation, Cheese Schooler Haley recently paid a visit to the world-renowned Borough Market in Southwark, London, England. This beautiful and bustling market is one of the largest and oldest markets in London. It sells artisanal goods and specialty items ranging from fresh fruits and vegetables to baked bread and pastries, and (our personal favorite) a stunning array of artisan cheese!
On the agenda for the day was a tasting and tour of one of the market’s first vendors, Neal’s Yard Dairy, a local artisan cheese retailer of largely British and Irish cheeses, like the creamy and citrusy Gorwydd Caerphilly and fruity, washed-rind Ogleshield (both currently in our cheese case!).
Eager to learn more about the experience, we sat down with Haley to relive the experience vicariously through photos and story.
What was your favorite part of the tour?
There were so many highlights, but interacting with the staff and becoming acquainted with the storefront space at Neal's Yard Dairy was extremely exciting itself. Hustling from the airport and landing on friendly faces from the cheese world was truly a warm welcoming. The hospitality and overall comfort I felt at the shop was especially endearing having just arrived in Europe for the first time too.
Was there anything that struck you as particularly unique about the shop?
The overall presentation of the cheeses and layout of the store itself was unique. The aesthetic was comfortably rustic, industrial, and highly professional all at once. I was impressed that all the cheeses were laid out at room temperature on the counter, completely uncovered and showcased like bits of lactic jewels. The cheese wires were embedded in the counter, dozens of full wheels lined the shop's walls, and a few barreled fountains with running water were dispersed in the building to regulate the internal temperature and humidity so the cheese could mature properly.
What was your favorite cheese you tasted that day?
I nearly tasted all the cheese for sale but the Lincolnshire Poacher, a semi hard raw cow's milk cheese from Alford, Lincolnshire was fantastic. It was beautifully buttery and rich like a cheddar style, with lovely hints of green pastures and orange citrus. They sent me on my way with a 1/4 pound wedge and it melted perfectly into my morning grilled cheese sandwiches!
What are your top three must do's while visiting London?
Definitely Borough Market when they're open! The surrounding shops and vendors adjacent to Neal's Yard Dairy are especially unique and showcase the growing food scene in the area. London reminded me of San Francisco in many ways, including Trafalgar Square, which is similar to the city's downtown/Civic Center scene. That area is the epicenter and a pathway to historic sights all within walking distance, yet is thriving in diversity. Also, catch a double-decker bus and the jubilee/metro train for the real public transit feels!
And finally, BRICK LANE! I'm really into street art and a local touch on space. My friend and I explored the Nomad Community Garden, which was like entering an entirely new side of London. It's a must-see for the wanderers.
Anything else about the experience you’d like to mention?
I'm also super appreciative that Noreen (Cheese and Retail Buyer at The Cheese School) took the time to schedule everything and work with the team at Neal's Yard Dairy to connect our paths! It reminded me why I love the cheese community so much. It was fun seeing some of the cheeses that we have in our case being made in their actual home. With the applied knowledge that I’ve gained from working here at The Cheese School and getting to ask questions in person at Neal’s Yard Dairy and seeing how it all translates here, it truly felt like coming full circle.
. . .
Neal’s Yard Dairy just celebrated its 40th year in operation.
If you're in the Southwark, London area, be sure to pay a visit, buy some cheese, and wish them a Happy Birthday!!!