Neals Yard cheeses
A while back someone gave me a taste of Neals (is there supposed to be an apostrophe?) Yard Cashel blue cheese and it was incredible--creamy, rich, flavorful. So recently, when confronted with a bin full of exotic European cheeses, I bought several others from Neals Yard. The Keen Cheddar was good--though no better (imho) than another, slightly less expensive English cheddar that I bought. On the other hand, the Cheshire, Lancashire, and Double Gloucester were distinctly underwhelming. They were not bad cheeses, but I could taste nothing that justified their price tags. They reminded me of good American Amish cheeses with a little extra age.
OK 'hounds, is this a problem with my palate? Am I missing some exotic subtle flavor notes? Or are those types of cheeses supposed to be so unexciting? Is this another strange English custom like warm beer? An enquiring mind wants to know.
The first time I had Neals Yard Cheeses was from Neals Yard Cheese store in Covent Garden, London. It was the perfect English cheese store experience. The building must have been at least a few hundred years old, with barrels curring olives lining the walls. Behind the counter were classic English dairy farmers with thick heavy country accents giving out tastes of anything and everything in the store. Every taste was better than the next. Of course we over bought and quickly finished off every morsel on the way to the airport. The cheese really was delicious and worth the reputation.
My guess is that here in the States it is not sold at its peak ripeness. It very easily could be past its prime and also not stored at the appropriate temperature or humidity level on the trip over.
Cheeses under the Neals Yard name come from all over Great Britain.There are a lot of variables;storage,some cheeses traveling better than others,and your personal taste!Cheeses made by small farms often vary from batch to batch,season to season.Cashel Blue is my all time favorite cheese,so lots of other cheeses would pale by comparison,but keep tasting,and learning...it's the best way to find your personal likes and dislikes.
I enjoy buying from their selection of cheese at the Covent Garden shop, pricey as it is, but I refuse to pay the tariff here. The cheeses are excellent, but not worth the import price.
OK..THIS IS Something ive spent a lot of time on....
ive been to neal's yard several times
(named after a 17th or 16th century yard/alleyway which the shop is located off of)
and ive been eating the cheeses in NY for years...
murray's was my most frequent source...
HOWEVER...they dont take care of it well...on a few occasions its been more blue than some blue cheeses..now, iknow naturally mold occurs, but...this is poor care...
ive also bought some at fairway in NY and at various Wegman's supermarkets upstate when ive been there...none of em handle it right. Formaggio kitchen in Cambirdge MA did a better job than any of the NY joints, altho they have NY prices as well..
Neal's has 3 cheddars on a pretty constant basis and a few others intermittently...Keene's is my favorite cheddar ever, but ive had it be just plain DUMB. unmatured. thats what neal's yard does-it handles, stores & matures cheeses. if they ship a less than mature wheel here, well, good luck--murrays wont mature it right. and then it will be just sort of creamy and not much else. Montgomery Cheddar may be a better bet here because its a little less rich, but this one suffers from hte same problem.
so you have to luck out-- i have a bunch of times. even at murray's in NY..ive come across good pieces of it...
No need to doubt your palate. But do question your cheesemonger. I was at the covent garden store in September and had the Cheshire, Lancashire and Double Gloucester. They were not underwhelming. I was definitely whelmed. Especially by the Lancashire and Double Gloucester, a hunk of which made its way into my luggage and through customs at JFK.
Where are you buying your Neals Yard? If you're not entirely sure their cheese handling is up to snuff, try to get samples from either Artisanal on 32nd Street, or Tuller on Court St. in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. I can vouch that both of those places have obsessive cheese-tenders.
re: pete wells
Thanks, pete and other 'hounds, for the advice and suggestions. Unfortunately, even the Cashel Blue wasn't good enough to drive 3,000 miles to buy more :-) . I got the cheeses at a Whole Foods Market in San Diego, so it is possible that it was mishandled. I just sampled the Keene's Cheddar again and it is pretty good, but the Lancashire was blah again. It may be that I just don't appreciate what the Lancashire has to offer. Thanks.
could someone tell me where the neals yard shop is?
wuz wondering around covent garden yesterday and stumbled upon said alley. found a bakery, a bunch of dodgy salad places, an alternative medicine shop which looked promising (if you're in the market for dried marshmallow root), a skate shop (which didn't sell skates) but no, er, neals yard fromaggyry. maybe they're closed sun?