Nestled amongst the smart boutiques and elegant cafes of South Kensington lies a very smart cheese and wine shop. A very smart cheese and wine shop indeed. La Cave a Fromage is an Aladdin's cave of charcuterie, specialist oils, breads and, of course, more cheese than you can possibly imagine. Laid out beautifully in large refrigerated cabinets, with vintage cheese wheel covers adorning the walls, there are cheeses from all four corners of the globe. Ewe's cheese, goats cheese, blue cheese, red cheese, pasteurised, unpasteurised and everything in between.
Whilst wine tasting might be a tried and tested concept, recently my lovely sister treated my father and I to wine tasting with a twist - expert cheese pairings from La Cave a Fromage's 'exotic' selection.
We took our seats with around 15 other eager foodies on a long table at the shop's centre. Laid out in front of us was a "balanced cheeseboard" beautifully arranged on a simple slate, several wine glasses, and enough varieties bread to make even the most committed Atkins follower turn. As our delightful hosts explained, a balanced cheeseboard is one that comprises the full range of textures, milks, strengths and countries.And that evening we were set to cover the breadth of Europe at least.
That evening we chowed down on everything from a creamy Taupinieres goats cheese from Acquitaine, through to Spanish Manchego, a wine-washed Appenzeller Swiss cheese, an extra mature Italian Taleggio and an unusual Irish Crozier Blue. However, the stand out cheese was a rich and velvety Gratte Paille, which hails from the same region as Brie in France but is infinitely more delicious and complex than its often-dull cousin. Served with a sweet kick in the form of white truffle honey, this cheese packs a shocking 90% fat but is oh-so-good. Perhaps one to eat in moderation and save for the special occasions? But don't forget the truffle honey, that really made it.
Luckily for me, my favourite cheese came paired with my favourite wine: a fabulous Syrah/Mourvedre/Grenache blend (and no, I hadn't heard of the latter two grapes either!) called Le Desire (2006, Cotes de Rousillon). It was smooth and clean, and lacked the bitter after taste that in my opinion makes a lot of reds hard work. We tried three other wines that evening, a white Bergerac Sec (also fantastic) a richer red Syrah/Mourvedre and a very sweet dessert-like win Maury Dore (Grenache/Banylus blend) and all complimented the cheese perfectly. I really couldn't fault our hosts on that. I only wish I hadn't eaten a sandwich before arriving because I ate at least my own body weight in artisan bread!
Tastings at La Cave a Fromage definitely get the thumbs up from me. You can order your tickets and find out their dates at La Cave's website (below) or by calling 0207 581 1804
La Cave a Fromage
24-5 Cromwell Place,
South Kensington, London