Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.
Well, it’s happening — through time I’m finding things in the UK that fill in some of the gaps left from Sydney. One of these gaps is beer; cheese isn’t one, England thrashes Australia on the cheese front (I guess we have to give them a chance somewhere). This Saturday we did one of our trips into Borough Market and discovered some great beer while picking up some excellent cheese.
After our, now traditional, “three posh bangers in a roll” from the Stoney Street Café we noted the “porter” in “Wright Brothers Oyster & Porter House” for the first time. We had three great beers (two porters, one stout), at a slightly hefty price tag of 5-6 quid per 500ml bottle! Next time we’ll have to try some of the oysters and maybe the deep fried squid. There was a stand next to us, out the front of the premises, where a guy shucked oysters and generated mouth watering aromas by deep-frying squid for passers-by.
With porter on my mind (and in my belly) we wandered into the Utobeer stall in the market. Amongst their excellent range of beer was one of the porters we’d just had, along with as everything from stubbies of VB (hrm) to Chimay Bleu (mmm). We left with a small sample of beers to try, a bottle of the St Peter’s Old Style Porter we’d just had along with it’s Honey Porter and Cream Stout brethren (the oval bottles they use are very distinctive) and an Okell’s Aile Smoked Celtic Porter (because it sounded interesting). The over-the-counter prices for these beers is a rather more palatable ~2.50 each.
The St Peter’s beers, along with the nearby Brew Wharf are now on our “see, the English can make beer” tour of London. St. Peter’s also has a pub with their cask ales: the Jerusalem Tavern, in Clerkenwell (EC1). We’ll be checking it out soon!
Taking a quick detour; far out of London in Alyesbury, I’ve recently been led to Hop Pole (“Aylesbury’s permanent beer festival“). A pub with a great range of cask ales on tap, many from the local area. The Vale Pale Ale and the Grand Union Honey Porter are both excellent. Unfortunately this discovery comes near the end of the time I’ll be in Aylesbury regularly (after more than a year), a bit late! If you ever happen to be there and after a beer, the Hop Pole Inn is the place to go (it’s on Bicester Road, only about a 10 minute walk from the town centre).
Cheese is a different matter. The cheese situation here in the UK was clearly superior to that in Australia from the start. Even in Tesco (like Coles) you can get a great range of local and continental cheese. Sheep, buffalo, goat, even cow. Unpasteurised and pasteurised. Soft, hard, old, and mouldy. That’s just Tesco. My first unpasteurised Camembert was an education in it’s self, and after a year the lesson has only just begun.
As I’ve already covered, we get some great parmesan from Borough Market. As well as the parmesan people there are always many other stalls with great cheese; the luxurious, velvety Comté, the delicate and tasty Caerphilly (sold by authentic hairy Welsh gentlemen), the small stalls with 100s of different cheeses, and then there’s also the slicker Neal’s Yard shop on Park Street.
As well as our usual parmesan purchase we grabbed an exquisite unpasteurised Stilton from one of the stalls. Alas, I cannot remember it’s name, I can remember that it comes from Nottinghamshire (almost a “duh” is seems), can also be found at Neal’s Yard (but isn’t listed on their website), and tastes glorious. We just ate some of it with the St. Peter’s Cream Stout — one last thing to add: ner ner.
All the specialist cheese stalls (stalls which provide just one or two specific cheeses) have bits out for tasting, as does Neal’s Yard, so you don’t have to take my word on any of this. Get yourself to the market and eat cheese!