Since I am so lucky to get the Observer ( for me the best newspaper in the whole world ) with all the supplements delivered right to my doorstep I think I should share this special from the last issue of Foodmonthly with you.
The top 10: Cheesemongers by the Observer Food Monthly
"Where to get Stilton, plus fruity cheddars, French fromages, and the best crispy biscuits"
1. The Fine Cheese Company
The Fine Cheese Company shop in Bath is a treat in itself, selling over 100 British artisan cheeses, but the company has also led a revolution in cheese biscuits, making beautifully thin savoury shortbreads, each scented with herbs or spices and tailor-made to eat with certain cheeses (see information on packs). Call for prices and availability.
29 & 31 Walcot St, Bath; 01225 448748
Mail order or contact for stockists
2. Neal's Yard Dairy
Few shops look after their cheeses as well as Randolph Hodgson's team at Neal's Yard, specialists in British artisan cheese. It's best to visit the shops before you choose. Best cheeses for Christmas are Stichelton unpasteurised blue cheese from Nottinghamshire, Montgomery's and Keen's cheddars, and Colston Bassett Stilton. Call for prices and availability.
17 Shorts Gardens, London WC2; 020 7240 5700 and branches
3. The Cheese Shed
Cheeses from the West Country - including Menallack and Devon Oke plus well-loved cheddars by Keen's, Montgomery's and Westcombe. There's Harbourne Blue, an unusual and delicious 'blue goat', Vulscombe and White Nancy - both goats' cheeses. Elmhirst and Nanterrow make up the soft, fresher cheeses.
81 Mary Street, Bovey Tracy, Devon; 01626 836762
4. Paxton & Whitfield
A good range of well cared-for British and European cheeses available over the counter or as a monthly cheese 'box'. New in the shop is Little Wallop, a cheese created by OFM columnist Alex James with Juliet Harbutt and made by cheesemaker Peter Humphries from Somerset. Call for prices and availability.
93 Jermyn Street, London SW1; 020 7930 0259 and branches
5. La Fromagerie
Patricia Michaelson sells great British cheeses but is also famous for her range of delicious French cheeses such as Comté - a firm-textured mature cheese with a hazelnut flavour. There's no mail order yet, but with wild mushrooms, fine wines and great coffee on offer, it's well worth the pilgrimage. Call for prices and availability.
2-4 Moxon Street, London W1; 020 7935 0341 and branches
6. The Cheeseboard
The Cheeseboard has a shop in Greenwich but their excellent website lists and describes almost every cheese on offer. Appleby's Cheshire (a red, hard cheese with orchard flavours, nutty Beauforts, creamy Vacherins and fresh goats' 'buttons'. Call for prices and availability.
26 Royal Hill, London SE10; 020 8305 0401
7. Rippon Cheese Stores
A tiny Tardis of a shop that stocks more than 500 cheeses from all over Britain and Europe, each carefully matured and stored. Staff are knowledgeable and will advise on the cheese most suited to your meal. Call for prices and availability.
26 Upper Tachbrook Street, London SW1; 020 7931 0628/0668
8. Hamish Johnson
Mark Newman at Hamish Johnson knows every cheese in the shop and, pressed for space, he has a small well-edited collection of favourites - the cheddar-style Lincolnshire Poacher, is, he says eating 'better and better'. Call for prices and availability.
48 Northcote Road, London SW11; 020 7738 0741
Mail order on selected cheeses
Spanish food specialist Monika Linton buys unusual artisan cheeses from Spain, including Monte Enebro, a relatively new fresh, sweet goats' cheese made by retired builder Rafael Baez. Monika's chefs at Tapas Brindisa dip the cheese in flour then egg before frying it and serving with fresh fruit and runny honey. Call for prices and availability.
The Floral Hall, Stoney Street, Borough Market, London SE1; 020 7407 1036
10. Sally Clarke
Sally Clarke was selling artisan raw-milk cheeses almost before anyone in the UK. She has only a small counter with a few cheeses but each is a star. She also makes the best cheese biscuits.
122 & 124 Kensington Church Street, London W8; 020 7229 2190