Oh dear, just when we were thinking that lockdown wasn’t too bad as we could enjoy some lovely early summer sunshine, the weather has changed, and the heating is back on! The gardens needed the rain, granted, but it would be nice to enjoy some more of that sun. We had a lovely ploughman’s lunch in the garden last weekend, and I even opened a bottle of rosé so that I could pretend I was on holiday! And, talking of a ploughman’s lunch, we need to save our artisan cheeses…
While many companies are seeking alternative ways of running their business (like the wonderful Frankonia Bakery I mentioned last week that’s doing great home deliveries), we also run the risk of losing many of our treasured independent shops and artisan producers. For example, British artisan cheese makers are at crisis point in many cases, with pubs and restaurants that they normally supply not ordering at the moment, due to COVID-19. So please try to support our industry and help ensure its future!
There was an excellent article the other day in The Independent by Clare Finney that gives a more detailed appraisal of the situation, which is looking pretty dire! I was lucky enough recently to visit the Norbury Blue Dairy down near Dorking, as part of one of the lovely Denbies Vineyard Experiences. (Of course now, sadly, on hold). Michaela and Neil, who run the dairy, are so dedicated, and the cheeses they produce are really delicious.
When you taste cheese like this you realise that it’s in a completely different league from the blocks of mass-produced cheddar, we are offered by so many supermarkets. Norbury Blue is the only cheese-making dairy in Surrey, and as well as the original Norbury Blue, they produce Dirty Vicar (don’t ask!) that is also good for cooking (as well as great on a cheeseboard). You can buy their cheese online and I think it would make a wonderful and unusual gift.
Of course, locally we also have Teddington Cheese, with shops in Richmond and Teddington. Both are open (one customer at a time) and they are also offering free delivery within a two-mile radius of their shops. Sadly they don’t stock Norbury Blue cheeses, but they do have an excellent range of British cheeses, and offer mail order too, with some well-composed selections to make life easier. There is also Ralph’s in Whitton High Street, selling a wide selection of cheeses including many British ones. Ralphs will also deliver in the immediate TW area.
So, even if you aren’t in the market for a large quantity of cheese, please consider our ‘proper’ cheese makers and try to buy thoughtfully!