As my close friends and family will tell you, with some sigh of boredom, I have a few favourite places in London, some personally significant, others significant for reasons that I cannot describe. Some examples of these are Borough Market, the Southbank and near the monument in London. I also like Putney, and the Albert Hall’s nearest neighbours. And today I found a new one. In Victoria, just next to the Queen’s Mother’s Sport Centre there is a cheese shop called “Rippon Cheese”. Now, I have been there before, but not for years, and today I made it my mission to visit it. And what a good decision. On first appearances, it may not seem much: it is just a small shop front with some cheese wires, some chutneys and the like. Behind the counter there is a colonade of “plastic-strips-that-make-up-a-door-type-thing-that-you-used-to-see-in-supermarket-fridges-and-in-the-science-museum”, and behind that, a heaven, a plethora of bounty so beautiful that I could hardly contain my excitement.
The first 5 minutes were spent in awe. And in cold. But mainly awe. I have never before seen such a selection of cheese, even when I went to Wookey Hole in Cheddar Gorge, or when I went to a small independent cheese producer in Shropshire. Shelves lined the walls, each with 4 different cheeses on them, clearly labelled with a short description. And then the lovely owner told me to go to the back where there was yet more cheese, and a huge, whole Parmesan, that the other owner was just about to open with… yes… that’s right: a SAW! I did, as you might imagine, buy some parmesan after this. And jolly good it is too. Even though supermarket cheese quality at the higher range is improving, nothing beats PROPER cheese, that has been properly cured (this one since 2009).
I also bought some Old Amsterdam: a mature gouda. I LOVE gouda cheese: Hard on the outside, yet meltingly soft and extremely complex inside, with character and flavour that l find just addictive. And it really was not expensive, £7 for everything! Rippon Cheese is now up there in my favourite places in London, merely because it rekindled a passion for cheese that had been settling down over the last few years, and burned it as bright as my hair. Hurrah!
PS, Indian takeaway from the KT (Kennington Tandoori). Goodish prices, Better than Goodish food. Washed down my curry with some Cobra beer, made even more special since I have seen the owner of the company speak. Anyway a lovely supper, and now to bed!