Updated: Jan 3
Along the best five cheesemongers in the UK, rated by Great Britain Cheese Award.
Their business started with Stephen Cullum in 1742, where he built his cheese stall at Clare Market off the Aldwych. (Clare Market does no longer exist as market per say, at that time, the market sold mostly meat). When he saw an opportunity to grow his business, he moved his cheese stall to Jermyn Street, where the society needed cheese for food and entertainment. That is when Stephen's son brought two new partners: Harry Paxton & Charlie Whitfield and so he decided to promote their names to market his business and sold his market stall at Clare Market. Not long after setting Paxton & Whitfield as the new cheesemonger in London, they earned their first Royal Warrant to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, after Stephen Cullum's death.
After the Industrial Revolution, where many rural towns became industrialized, the small shops, stalls and food market disappeared, consequently food adulteration was very common, so a strict food law was established in 1860, but many locals stopped purchasing local cheese, instead they were interested in imported cheese. And of course, both World Wars did not help for Paxton & Whitfield. Although there were numerous business partners who bought and re-sold the business, the magic for Paxton & Whitfield came back after World War II, when the business re-positioned itself in the London Market, worked on quality control and started to work on their marketing again. As Sir Winston Churchill once said: "A gentleman buys his cheese at Paxton & Whitfield".
Today, not only they have a large selection of British and Continental cheeses, but they offer, Cheese Hampers, classes, online market and many more. If you go during the Holiday Season, do not be surprise to stand in a long queue, but surprisingly, the people behind and in front of the counter are astonishing organized and so the experience for the customer is flawless. It was for me.
I purchased some French and Italian cheeses, but I chose to taste some of the most popular cheeses from Britain, and so this is the presentation:
The 5 sorts on the left are cow milk cheese, the middle one from Ireland, goat cheese, the right one; the first two in the front row are goat cheese, all from England.
Cheese #5, left: A traditional cheese from Cheshire, bordering Wales, a crumbly texture offering a rich, clean flavour.
Good to know: Cheshire is well known for its good cheeses, salt and many famous British car manufactures.
Cheese #4, left: Lancashire Smoked Kirkham: Rich and buttery, cold smoked for 4 days over hickory and oak wood chips. This was my number one cheese, I absolutely loved the smoky taste, the texture was sandy, I even enjoyed the crust. Too good to be wasted. If I am not mistaken, this cheese was one of the finalist within the competitors for "Great British Cheese Awards" in October 2018.
A traditional cheese handmade using the milk of Gloucester cows. A rich, rounded, mellow flavor and smooth texture.
A very pleasant flavour, that can be enjoyed at breakfast as well; a slice of sourdough bread with thousand seeds, fresh, crunchy with a good butter and organic acacia honey and one piece of Gloucester cheese and a good coffee. (happy)
Cheese #2, left: Stilton: A truly exceptional example of one of England's most famous cheeses, with a herby tang and rich creaminess.
I am not sure if it is the same as "Stichelton", the winner of blue cheese at "Great Britain Cheese Award", this was incredibly perfect, not too strong, but strong enough to taste the blue of this cheese.
Cheese #1, left: Cornish Yarg: A delicious nettle wrapped Cornish cheese, fresh and creamy in flavour and crumbly in texture, Creamy, nutt in Devonshire.
Best hard Cheese Finalist, rated by "Great Britain cheese award".
Cheese #4, right: Brie aux Truffles: A stunning combination of earthy flavours prepared by hand at Paxton & Whitfield to a traditional recipe using the finest Summer truffles from Le Marche region in Italy.
This was my absolute number one soft cheese, the creamy truffles and the Brie were magic in my palate.
Cheese #2, right: Lincolnshire Poacher Smoked: A naturally smoked handmade cheese with the flavorful characters of the Lincolnshire Poaches.
Much lighter smoky taste than the Lancashire cheese, this was the highlight of my cheese platter tasters.
Cheese #2, right: Fosseway Fleece: A firm sheep milk cheese with a close, smooth bodied texture with cream in color with a clean rounded flavor.
Cheese #1, right: Wigmore: A Ewes milk cheese with a sweet yet flowery taste which becomes runny as it matures.
As the photo above shows, please note that I tried to be as accurate as I can be. If I by mistake presented a different cheese and described as "your cheese", please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I tried other cheese stores, not necessarily cheese mongers, but I definitely buy my cheeses at Paxton & Whitfield, when time and planning permit.
Food with Susi
Sources: www.paxtonandwhitfield.co.uk www.greatbritishcheeseawards.com www.royalwarrant.org wikipedia www.fettercairnwhisky.com