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HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHICH INTERNATIONAL CHEESES TO STOCK AT BUCHANANS CHEESEMONGER?
We currently stock Continental cheeses from France, Italy, Switzerland and Spain. We try to strike a balance between finding excellent examples of classic cheeses and some more unusual regional items. Either way, we strive to find exceptional cheeses and with some it feels necessary to try and distinguish ourselves from our competitors, for example we recently went to Italy in search of the best Parmesan we could find.
WHAT CHEESES ARE YOUR TOP SELLERS AT THE MOMENT?
In terms of provenance there’s a real mixture at the top of our bestsellers list currently. It’s nice to see some brilliant British cheeses being served at top restaurants in London – Baron Bigod and Sinodun Hill do really well. In terms of international cheeses, we sell a lot of Burrata, especially in the summer when chefs like to use it on salads and sharing plates. Classic French cheeses like our aged Comté and Ossau Iraty rarely move from the top spots. Our customers also love Bleu des Basques, a ewes’ milk blue from the French Basque Country that benefits from some time ageing in our maturing rooms before we sell it.
WHAT HAVE YOU NOTICED CHANGES IN CHEESE TRENDS WITH CUSTOMERS IN RECENT YEARS?
Our shop customers quite often ask for our recommendations and to be honest, I can’t help but feel that they look a little disappointed if, for example, we happen to think our Roquefort is tasting great that day – they want something new they haven’t heard of. We want to encourage our customers to ask what’s tasting great rather than what’s new! A couple of crowd-pleasing cheeses that have ticked both boxes for us recently on the shop counter are our Swiss Etivaz and a mixed-milk Robiola from Piedmont. Both are reliably delicious and are considered a bit more unusual.
FROM WHAT COUNTRIES OR REGIONS ARE YOU STARTING TO SEE MORE EXCITING CHEESES COMING THROUGH?
There are lots of interesting cheeses being made in the USA, and the World Cheese Awards have shone a light on some great Norwegian cheeses in the last couple of years. We also tried and enjoyed some Swedish cheeses recently. It would be great to reach critical mass to be able to import directly from these place in the future.
For more on international cheese, download the September issue of Speciality Food.
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