- Mike Thomson, who runs Mike's Fancy Cheese, the company behind Young Buck, has opened the first specialist cheese shop in Belfast
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The new shop, which is located close to Belfast city centre, lists Thomson’s cheese and other Irish raw milk cheeses, as well as artisan accompaniments such as biscuits, chutneys and sourdough bread.
Mike’s Fancy Cheese, which has its small creamery in Newtownards, County Down, has won a series of awards for the Young Buck blue cheese, which is Northern Ireland’s first made from unpasteurised milk from a local grass-fed dairy herd.
He said, “Opening my own shop in Belfast has given me a tremendous opportunity to reach a much wider audience of lovers of artisan cheese, especially my own Young Buck blue. It’s a location where ordinary consumers know exactly where to find me in what is easily the biggest market for specialist cheese.
“Many cheese enthusiasts here know very little about the taste and texture of the sort of raw milk blue that I am producing. I readily spend time to explain to them how my cheese – and other Irish unpasteurised cheeses - and being produced. The shop is all about spreading the love of raw milk cheeses.
“I believe there’s now a growing interest in Belfast, and many other larger towns in Northern Ireland, in specialist cheese and this belief encouraged me to push ahead with the shop. And it’s clear from shoppers since we opened at the start of December that it’s already a hugely popular initiative.
“The biggest problem I had was finding suitable premises that would enable me to showcase the cheese and other accompanying products, such as relishes, chutneys, sourdough and biscuits from other local artisans. I took time to achieve my objective of a modern shop with a great environment for cheese that had to be close to the city.
“I’ve located the shop in one of the city’s growth areas – a part being regenerated by the huge investment in what is designed to be the biggest campus for the Ulster University. The shop will be virtually just across the road from the campus buildings. Soon there will be many thousands of staff and students, a very exciting market for artisan cheese.”