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The Big Day

March 31, 2013

This post is gonna be a bit more detailed since we’re talking about THE highlight ever.

Mary had the generous idea to invite me to a lecture about moulds in London last week. Since she has a flat in Bethnal Green/East London with a spare room she took me on her usual 2-day trip to London which turned out to be the highlight of my cheese journey so far.

At first I had the pleasure to deliver our cheeses to Neal’s Yard Dairy, the biggest and most important cheesemonger and wholesale of British Farmhouse Cheese in the UK.  Neal’s Yard Dairy has lovely shops at Borough Market and Covent Garden but also their own maturing rooms in Bermondsey which are in brick railway arches, an absolut stunning place for all those who love cheese.

nealsyard

The Dairy is Mary’s biggest customer and sells her cheeses not only to the most famous restaurants in London but also all over the world. Mary is the absolute star at Neal’s Yard. She’s working in the Arches during the season one day a week, not only to look after her cheeses but also to train the staff as well. Everybody in the Dairy knows and loves her. Her cheese won a lot of awards!! So it is understandable that I was a bit excited when we arrived at the Arches since the delivery we had in the van has been all I was working on in the last weeks. “This has been made only by Melanie, all the cheeses went through her hands with lots of love…” was the way Mary introduced the cheeses to the Cheesemonger and I happily waved good bye to my babies. But it shouldn’t be the last time I saw them…

The lecture about “Microbial ecology, fermentation and flavour” took place later in the evening. Contrary to my expectations I understood most of what the biologists on the stage where talking about and was quite intrigued about the way moulds grow on cheeses and how it impacts the flavour. Afterwards Mary invited me to a mouth-watering dinner at a Turkish place. What a treat!!!!

Next morning was my day!!! Mary ought to join an all day workshop (about moulds) that was booked out without a place left for me. She thought I might instead like to spend the day in the cheese rooms of Neal’s Yard Dairy. HELL YEAH!!!! I was so excited I couldn’t fall asleep the night before, was wide-awake, fully dressed and  brushed at 7am the next morning.  Getting there, I was being awaited by the staff already, got my welly boots, hat and apron and off I went!

You can imagine how I felt when I entered the cheese rooms? Bells ringing and choir of angels singing in the background, wide-eyeing and jaw droping open … Mel in heaven. Whilst my favourite place was the hard cheese section I was to work in the soft/washed rind cheese part, which I enjoyed very much. I had to turn, flip and pad the cheeses in every cheese room and happy to see my cheeses again which seemed to enjoy the new environment. Towards the end of my shift there was a special task waiting for me. They allowed me to wash Mary’s famous Cardo which she has matured in the rooms of Neal’s Yard due to better conditions. It was the first batches of the season which Mary and I have been made in the last couple of weeks. They saved this task for me since they knew I was coming that day. How sweet is that? Mary must have put a good word for me…

nealsyard2

With a huge grin on my face I left the Arches to meet Mary in the National Theatre to see a piano concert (which I couldn’t concentrate on as I was still in cheese heaven 🙂 )

It is hard to describe in words how much these two days meant for me but you might understand the impact it has on me. You may well guess now that most likely my life’s gonna take a different direction when I am back …

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