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Neal’s Yard Dairy

When most people think of cheese (and, well, food in general) they tend not to think of Britain. In fact, they tend to actively avoid the thought of food in Britain. To me, that’s a mistake. The days of mushy peas and over boiled everything are long gone and what better way to prove itl than to eat (and drink) my way through London. In addition to eating world-class meals and drinking numerous pints of beer, no ‘work’ trip to London would be complete without a stop at Neal’s Yard Dairy- a company that showcases, advances, and promotes a cheese tradition as old and varied as any on the continent.

Neal’s Yard Dairy began as named – a dairy in London purveying milk, eggs, and a small selection of fresh cheeses. After some time in the business, they realized there was a gap in the market in London and they began to seek out hard, aged cheeses to bring into the shop. In order to do this they reached out to small farms and producers throughout England, Ireland, and Scotland and as they built relationships with these farms and farmers their business grew.  Nowadays, this is the main focus of their business. The very lucky people at Neal’s Yard spend their days traveling the country and tasting cheeses right at the source so that they can select the best of the best to bring back to London and add their unique touch to their selection by finishing the aging process in their maturation facility.

Their carefully selected cheeses showcase and represent an age old tradition of cheeses including the big names and heavy hitters like cheddar (the OG cheddars from Somerset, England) and stilton, as well as some lesser known (but equally tasty) cheeses from throughout England. Many of these are named after the places they are made, much like a fine wine from France or Italy, and are called “territorials.” Others are more innovative, and create true competition and inspiration for the exploding artisanal cheese scene here in the States.

Visiting their facility was an incredible experience. They’ve just moved into a new space in South London (across the street from a pub, of course) and have rows on rows of wheels of cheese undergoing the last stages before heading out to their retail stores, London shops and restaurants, and (luckily for us) some across the pond. Upon entering the facility we were greeted by the amazing and ever charming Clara Melluish, offered tea and coffee, and then whisked away to visit the cheese. After donning jackets, hair nets, and shoe covers we were led into the storage facility- which was basically just a giant library with floor to ceiling shelves full of cheese. Though the sight is amazing, the smell is the first thing to hit you. A little bit earthy, a little bit funky, and incredibly tantalizing, the scents that come from having that many delicious cheesy morsels in one room was overwhelming in the best possible way. Fortunately we were not just there to look but to taste and taste we did. Row after row, cheese after cheese, Clara guided us through the process of selecting cheeses, bringing them back to age, and how to decide when they’re ready to go off into the world. We learned the differences between aging hard cheeses and aging soft cheeses, we did side by side tastings of two identical cheeses where one was washed in beer and the other was not, and we got to taste a cheese next to its twin sibling made in different size formats. It’s sometimes hard to remember that cheese is a living entity, that it takes in flavors from its surrounding as it’s changing textures from maturing but while you’re standing at the source the incredible magic and art of cheese is undeniable.

Don’t let us have all the fun! Due to all our hard (fun), taxing (exciting), and very serious (very delicious) work, we’re binging over some phenomenal cheeses for you next month. Trust me- you’ll thank us when the delivery arrives because we were able to pinpoint some amazing cheeses that will be close to their peak in flavor, texture, and general deliciousness when they arrive next month. Keep an eye out for our Neal’s Yard Dairy Cheese Board Special coming in April or join us for our April Cheese of the Month Club where we will be tasting and talking about some of our favorites from this trip.















no trip to London would be complete without a stop Read more

When most people think of cheese (and, well, food in general) they tend not to think of Britain. In fact, they tend ...

Cheese of the Month: Ogleshield!

One of the most fun aspects of working in food is that it is ever evolving and changing. Tradition may be the undertone of most things you see, but innovation is everywhere, regardless of how steeped the source. As a cheesemonger, finding fascinating new cheeses hidden in renowned traditional sources is one of my greatest pleasures.

No matter where in the world you look, many of the practices of making cheese are the same. The curds are heated in similar patterns, similar cultures are used, and many similar rind formation techniques are applied, but the results can be drastically different. So if I was surprised to find one of the foremost names in traditional English cheeses attached to a Swiss raclette style cheese, I was even more surprised to find one of England’s foremost cheddar producers as well! Montgomery’s Cheddar has long been held as one of the standard bearers of English cheddars and their collaboration with Neal’s Yard Dairy in Ogleshield reflects a lot of that commitment to quality and tradition, even in a more innovative cheese.

The first of these collaborations occurred on Ogleshield’s predecessor, Jersey Shield. Jaime Montgomery uses primarily more mild Holstein milk for many of his cheeses but made the decision to expand his small Jersey herd to cheese production as well. Jersey Shield started more traditionally English with a ashy gray bloomy rind, a firmer texture, and a cheddared style. However, due to the larger size and delicate nature of the fat globules in Jersey milk, the cheese did not succeed as affineurs had hoped. William Oglethorpe, who at the time was the senior affineur at Neal’s Yard, knew that the cheese had the potential to be incredible, they just had to find a way to get there, and thus, Ogleshield was born.

Ogleshield has all the ingredients for an incredible cheese: Jersey milk with its characteristic bright yellow fat and complex flavor profile from a master dairyman and a rind hand-washed and salted in the traditional Swiss style developed by master affineur, for whom the cheese is named. The result is a semi-soft, nutty, and almost fruity cheese incredible for melting with more punch and tang that a traditional raclette.

We are very happy to announce that Ogleshield will be our May cheese of the month! Come taste it in all it’s wonderful forms May 3rd at 7:30! Please visit our website for tickets!

Author: Emily Shifflett

Tips From Our Cheesemonger Read more

One of the most fun aspects of working in food is that it is ever evolving and changing. Tradition may be the ...

From the Pond to your Neighborhood

“Wow! Look at all this cheese! I can’t believe you have so many different kinds of Itali…Wait a minute…This isn’t all Italian cheese! I thought Via Umbria was an Italian store! What’s going on here!?”

This happens at my counter a lot. Like, every week. Well, really more like every other day. And I understand the confusion–Via Umbria is, as the name would suggest, an Italian store filled with unique, delicious, and beautiful Italian things. So what’s the deal with the cheese counter?

While it is true that Italians make some supremely excellent cheese, my little counter has been given a bit more freedom and has a wider reaching focus than solely Italian curds. Our goal is to give a platform to unique, artisanal, handcrafted cheeses from all over the world, giving our customers a chance to explore myriad delicious products that they may not have regular access to or even have heard of before.

In this spirit, I’m pleased to announce that Via Umbria will be delving into the wide world of British cheeses this fall by teaming up with famed London cheese emporium, affineur, and exporter, Neal’s Yard Dairy.


I’m thrilled about this partnership for a few reasons. Firstly, and most selfishly, British cheeses tug at my childhood-memory heartstrings. For much of my young life, I spent summers in the English countryside on my grandparents farm, where I ate lots and lots and lots of locally made cheese. I spent many happy hours learning how to milk goats, collect eggs, feed pigs–happy hours that were fueled by delicious farmhouse cheese. Even when I was back home in Chicago, my mum packed many cheese and chutney sandwiches in my school lunches (yup, kids at school totally thought I was weird), and we always had Stilton and port at Christmas. All of that to say, I have a very dear place in my heart for the lovely British cheeses from my childhood, and I’m looking forward to sharing them with my customers.

Secondly, I’m thrilled to be able to give British cheeses the audience that they deserve. When most Americans think of European cheese, they think of cheeses like French Brie, Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano, or Spanish Manchego–the UK, unfortunately, very rarely comes into the picture. To be honest, this is a bit bizarre–one of the most beloved cheeses in this country, Cheddar, originally comes from the UK. Be that as it may, British cheeses remain relatively unknown the US.

Part of that has to do with the fact that in Britain, cheese was traditionally part of a workman’s diet, not something for the rich and influential. Because of this lower status, local cheeses weren’t given the same importance as many of their continental counterparts. For a long time, these cheeses weren’t seen as significant enough to protect or maintain. Thus, with the global rise of factorization and mass production of cheese, traditional British farmstead cheeses were largely pushed aside to make way for cheaper, less flavorful, grocery-store friendly options.

Enter: Neal’s Yard Dairy. Started in the early 1980’s as a small cheese shop in London, Neal’s Yard Dairy has become, quite simply, the preeminent champion of British cheese. Neal’s Yard searches out farmers and cheesemakers, working with them to not only preserve traditional British cheeses – what they call “territorials” – but to improve the cheeses quality, age them to perfection, and expand global awareness of these cheeses. Simply put, they find (and/or help create) the best tasting cheeses that the UK has to offer, and then give them a global stage. They go out and visit each of the farmers that they work with, about 40 in total, on a regular basis in order to both taste their cheeses and to select the best cheeses to mature and sell. Farmhouse cheeses like Cheshire, Caerphilly, Lincolnshire Poacher, and Shropshire, to name just a few, now have a global presence in the world because of the efforts of Neal’s Yard Dairy. What they’ve been able to do for British cheese has been absolutely remarkable.

Our first shipment from London should be arriving in just a few weeks, so please come by and taste some delicious British cheese with me at the Via Umbria cheese counter! It’s a fantastic way to explore the world and get to know some some new and exciting cheeses!”

A new partnership with Neal's Yard Dairy Read more

"Wow! Look at all this cheese! I can't believe you have so many different kinds of Itali...Wait a minute...This isn't all Italian ...