Borough Market opened on Wednesday night this week to flaunt its cheese credentials in the run up to Christmas. An impressive line up of mongers and makers were gathered together under the railway arches in what was basically a full on fromage fest.
Big hitters such as Neal's Yard, Mons, Brindisa and Trethowans Dairy were all there among the twinkling Christmas decorations, handing out samples and talking eloquently about how their cheeses were made.
As a food buying experience, it was a million miles away from buying a lump of plastic-coated block cheddar from the supermarket. Atmospheric and convivial, it was packed with enthusiastic people who knew their Gouda from their Gorgonzola. Maybe Mary Portas had a point in her recent report when she said that markets could be a way to revive the high street.
Speaking of Gouda, the stall that really caught my attention belonged to KaseSwiss, an importer of fantastic Gruyere, Vacherin and Raclette, which also does a nice sideline in Dutch cheeses.
One of these is a cheese called Old Remeker, which is made to a Gouda recipe using extra creamy Jersey cows' milk and is matured for 18 months. I bought some a few months ago at KaseSwiss' Maltby Street unit and was bowled over. Hard, crunchy and with the most amazing flavours of tropical fruits and chocolate, it was a mind bendingly good cheese.
This time around I took away a big lump of their Old Gouda (above left), which is two years old and is equally hard and fruity, but with more floral notes. Gouda is made by washing and scalding the curds to keep acidity low, so you end up with a lovely sweet, mellow cheese. KaseSwiss' is made with raw milk in the Ijsselstein region of Holland, and is just stunning. You won't be able to find it in a supermarket either.