I adore good cheese!
But living in the suburban wilderness that is London’s zone 4, I rarely make the trek down to favourite cheese shops La Cave a Fromage and Paxton & Whitfield. I can buy good cheese from Waitrose, and they do a better job of selecting and caring for it than other supermarkets, but being able to order exactly what I want and have it arrive in peak condition is a joy. I have previously reviewed and enjoyed products from online cheese monger, Pong Cheese.
When The Cheese Boutique approached me suggesting I review their online cheese shop recently, I was happy to oblige.
The Cheese Boutique is a family business established by a family who fell in love with France and its cheese. I empathise! Today, their range encompasses cheeses from Spain and Italy, as well as France.
When I buy multiple cheeses to enjoy in a single sitting, I try and balance my choices. So, using the classic formula for a cheeseboard, I chose one soft, one hard, one blue and one goat’s cheese. I also added a cheeky fifth cheese that I just couldn’t resist.
The cheeses arrived well protected in a spacious and well-insulated box. An ice pack kept them cool for the journey, and I think they’d have been fine for a few hours sat outside my house or with the neighbours, had I not been in to accept delivery. The individual cheeses were wrapped in waxed paper, although over-zealous use of sellotape meant they were difficult to open without ripping the paper, which is best kept to wrap leftovers.
The cheeses were in superb condition, and I particularly appreciated that all were sent to me ripe and ready to eat. Previously, I’ve bought cheeseboards where one cheese is so ripe it needs to be eaten straight away, and another is several days away from being at its best.
A blue cheese from Northern Spain, this cheese can either be made wholly from unpasteurised cow’s milk or, more traditionally, from a blend of cow’s, goat’s and sheep’s milk, which gives the cheese a more pungent flavour. It has a soft grey rind around a creamy centre heavily veined with blue.
Certainly, this is the first blue I’ve found that is almost too strong for me!
The flavour was very intense, almost like chilli in its piquancy. For me, the texture had a slight graininess to it which I didn’t like and the cheese also made my mouth feel intensely dry and furry. Pete enjoyed both texture and flavour more, but did also experience the strange furring of the mouth. I’m used the rest in cooking, and the robust flavour worked very well indeed. Definitely one to try for those who love kick arse cheese!
Described as a dense and creamy hard cheese, this is a pressed, cooked cow’s milk cheese made in the Haute-Savoie region of France. It was originally known as French Gruyère, but now that the Gruyère name is protected by AOC status and thereby restricted to cheese made in Switzerland, this cheese has been renamed for a local village.
I found it much softer than expected. Perhaps it gets harder with age, in which case I’d love to try an older sample. The flavour was slightly sweet, but balanced by saltiness. It was very pleasant but a little mild for my tastes.
Tomme Georgelet Cendrée
This Tomme Cendrée is created by cheesemaker Paul Georgelet, in the Poitou-Charentes region of France. Made with unpasteurised goat’s milk, ash and salt are added to the rind to encourage the growth of the distinctive mould.
This soft goat’s cheese was beautifully ripe on delivery, oozing softly at the edges nearest the rind and smooth and creamy all the way through. The taste was good and strong, but beautifully balanced, especially for those of us who always eat the rind too. This one was my favourite in the selection.
Brie de Meaux Dongé AOC
Brie de Meaux is a soft, white bloom rind cheese made in the Ile-de-France from unpasteurised cow’s milk. This one is produced by the Fromagerie Dongé.
Like the other cheeses, this arrived nicely ripe and was full of flavour. Heady with that typical mushroom aroma, it was creamy and buttery in texture, with a fabulous full flavour. If you think of Brie as an insipid cheese, you’ve been eating too many cheap, mass-produced versions. This is how Brie should be!
Brillat-Savarin aux Truffes
Named for 18th century French gourmet and political commentator Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, Brillat-Savarin cheese is a very soft, triple cream cheese commonly enjoyed young and fresh. This version has a thin layer of black truffles through the centre. This young, no rind has developed, though you can buy aged Brillat-Savarin which has a white bloom rind.
Although the flavour of truffles came through only subtly, the cheese itself was delicious; delicate, so soft it was spreadable and richly creamy, it was Pete’s favourite of the lot.
In summary, these were five excellent cheeses delivered in great condition.
Delivery is a touch pricy at £6.99 to UK mainland addresses, though as the website explains, the “delivery charges are set to cover our costs – we do not make any profit from delivery. We could choose to lower the charges but it would mean an increase in cheese prices therefore we would prefer to be honest and open about the full cost of delivery and keep the prices of cheese just that – the price of the cheese alone“. And, yes, prices for the cheese are pretty reasonable when compared like for like to other retailers.
As a rather lovely ode to my cheese love, The Cheese Boutique have set up a Kavey Eats Cheese Box, available to buy on their website. We decided to switch out the Margeriaz for Ossau Iraty, a favourite of mine with a more robust flavour.
So the selection contains Cabrales, Ossau Iraty, Tomme Georgelet Cendrée, Brie de Meaux Dongé AOC and Brillat-Savarin aux Truffes.
For our competition prize, one winner will receive a Kavey Eats Cheese Box, and The Cheese Boutique are also including a lovely wooden cheese board, as shown in the picture above. This prize includes delivery to any UK mainland address.
HOW TO ENTER
You can enter the competition in 2 ways:
Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, answering the following question:
Which cheeses will be on your cheeseboard this Christmas?
Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @KaveyF and @TheCheeseBoutiq on twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter!
Then tweet the (exact) sentence below. You don’t need to leave a blog comment about your tweet.
I’d love to win a cheeeboard from @TheCheeseBoutiq and Kavey Eats! http://goo.gl/0WJWc #KaveyEatsCheeseboard
RULES & DETAILS
The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Monday 3rd December 2012.
Kavey Eats reserves the right to alter the closing date of the competition. Changes to the closing date, if they occur, will be shown on this page.
The winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
The prize is a selection of cheeses and a wooden cheese board, as detailed above, and includes delivery to any UK mainland address.
The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
The prizes is offered and provided by The Cheese Boutique.
One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You do not have to enter both ways for your entries to be valid.
For twitter entries, winners must be following @KaveyF and @TheCheeseBoutiq at the time of notification, as this will be sent by Direct Message.
Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
The winners will be notified by email or twitter (for twitter entries). If no response is received within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.
This competition is closed. The winner is Kirstine Meredith.
Kavey Eats received a review sample of cheeses from The Cheese Boutique.