by Jane Rodmell for All The Best Fine Foods, a Certified Good Food Fighter

At All The Best we are eagerly awaiting our holiday shipment of classic British cheeses from Neal’s Yard Dairy.

Tucked away in the labyrinth of small streets just north of Covent Garden in London is a world-renowned cheese shop called Neal’s Yard Dairy. It was founded in 1979 by Randolph Hodgson, a visionary with a passion for cheese, who has worked with farmers and cheese makers in Britain over the past thirty-plus years to preserve British farmhouse cheese-making traditions and to bring these quality cheeses to market.

If you visit Neal’s Yard Dairy today, (on Shorts Gardens, off Neal Street, or in Borough Market) you’ll see, and taste, an amazing array of cheeses sourced from around 70 specialist cheese makers on farms all over Britain and Ireland. Some of the cheeses are aged on the farm and others are matured in the dairy’s ripening rooms in Bermondsey, located under the Victorian brick arches under the main line from London Bridge to Dover. Here in just the right temperature and humidity many of the cheeses are carefully matured, before being shipped to shops, restaurants and cheese lovers around the world.

From Neal’s Yard Dairy we will have premium Colston Basset Stilton-the season’s favourite. The cheese is named after the market town in Leicestershire where it was originally sold and is the only cheese in Britain name-controlled for quality, known for the past three centuries as the “King of English cheeses”. The classic, blue-veined cheese has a buttery texture and intense, mellow flavour which is most appropriately paired with fortified red wines, especially Ports and Madeiras.

A crumb of Stilton should never be wasted! Sprinkle on a soup, like the one below, or on a salad, or pizza. Add flavour to a vegetable gratin or a savoury shortbread. Just be sure to enjoy every bite.

Leek and Potato Soup with Stilton

2 tbsp (30 ml) butter

4 leeks, white and tender green parts only, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 lb (450 g) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped

4 cups (1L) water or vegetable broth

1 tsp (5 ml) kosher or sea salt
11/2 cups (375 ml) half-and- half cream

Freshly ground pepper

6 tbsp (90 ml) crumbled Stilton

In a large pot, melt butter over low heat. Add leeks and onion and cook gently, covered, until soft, 7 to 10 minutes.

Add potatoes, water and salt. Increase heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender. Stir in cream and bring just to the boil.

Remove from the heat and let cool for just a few minutes. In a blender, or food processor, purée soup in batches, until smooth. Force through a fine sieve if you prefer a very smooth texture. Adjust seasoning to taste. Reheat and serve in warm bowls, sprinkled with crumbled Stilton.

Serves 6

Visit All The Best to enjoy more British cheeses from Neal’s Yard Dairy …Shropshire Blue, Irish Cashel Blue, Montgomery’s Farmhouse Cheddar, Appleby’s Cheshire, Stinking Bishop, Ogleshield, Red Leicester and more. Quantities are limited, so be sure to come and see us soon.

Happy Holidays and all the best,