Chiswick Cheese Market gets off to a cracking start

Over 5,500 people visited the first Chiswick Cheese Market on Sunday, with delighted vendors declaring it a sell out success.

It kicked off with dramatic aplomb as Ewa performed a ceremonial cracking of a giant Parmegiano Reggiano on the Bianca & Mora Stall watched by the Mayor of Hounslow who was made a gift of the freshly cut, award winning, parmesan. All 60 kilo of the massive Red Cow parmesan was sold. Indeed trade was so brisk all round, every single one of the cheese mongers reported record sales for the day.

Ewa cracking the giant Parmegiano Reggiano on the Bianca & Mora Stall. Photographs by Lucinda MacPherson

Milling around artisan food stalls, gave Chiswick High Road a continental feel with shoppers trying new tastes and being given the chance to talk to experts who are passionate about their specialty offerings. And what made this particular market special was it had so many rare cheeses made by small, artisan makers, which are just impossible to find elsewhere in London.

James Merchant Wing. Photograph by Lucinda MacPherson

IJ Mellis, for instance, had come down from Edinburgh especially “We have some shops in Scotland, so we don’t tend to do markets, but this opportunity came up in Chiswick,” explained  Rory Mellis, Director. “ We’re heading back up tonight, it’s a  9, 10 hour drive. It’s a long way, but it’s worth it.”

Rory and James Merchant Wing, their wholesale manager, are evidently passionate about promoting Scottish cheese in England,

“South of Manchester there is not a lot of Scottish cheese being sold. You’ve got the classic Isle of Mulls but not much cheese comes out of Scotland. It doesn’t reach south of the border, so we’re trying to promote it as it is so special.  Our land and terrain in Scotland is absolutely beautiful, the animal welfare in Scotland is incredible and that creates a great milk.”

Rory Mellis and James Merchant Wing who drove over an 18 hour round trip to be at The Chiswick Cheese Market. Photograph by Lucinda MacPherson

We caught up with them after a very long, but extremely successful day and Rory said they had never sold so much and that, “We had a great time and are very much looking forward to next month’s. We were chatting the whole way back up to Edinburgh about what sort of cheeses we can be offering to the customers next time.”

This also was a first time in London for Cradoc’s Crackers from Wales who said they had been “Too busy to chat!” and admitted,“We didn’t buy any cheese, we were so busy,” but promised, “That will never happen again!”

Marianne Kelly from Heritage Cheese, specialise in Irish cheeses, which were unheard of here until the 1990s when a number of chefs started using them and they started to become popular.

One of their suppliers is Corleggy Cheeses, based near Belturbete  Cavan, who make their  soft creamy cavanberts from fresh, raw milk and wrap each cheese by hand. But although these little lovelies are in demand, it is becoming harder to buy them in England as they face a combination of problems posed by the pandemic and Brexit rules.

Marianne Kelly. Photographs by Lucinda MacPherson

“They (the Brexit rules) are not good for our exporting trade, as all the rules are geared towards big importers and exporters. They are designed for Tesco taking in two huge containers of something.  So for Corleggy, for instance, whose production is tiny, they might supply us with five different things and  have to fill in five different pieces of paperwork for that.  English  cheesemakers have the same problem. We keep trying to work with it, but the government keeps moving the goalposts.

“They need to recognise that they are hurting very small British and Irish producers. And they need to gear their rules towards small producers as the big producers inevitably have whole departments to do the paperwork, but  a very small cheesemaker does not have the time or the money to input systems and do huge amounts of paperwork for one shipment, which is what you have to do now.”

Unsurprisingly, the market attracted foodies from near and far including cheese aficionados, Ned Palmer who runs the Cheese Tasting Company, The Cheese Explorer, Emma Young  and food writer, broadcaster and artist Elisabeth Luard .

Elisabeth Luard at the Une Normande à Londres stall. Photograph by Lucinda MacPherson

“I live locally, so I’m very happy to see you” she said to Guillaume from Une Normande à Londres whose name, she quipped, sounded “Like William the Conqueror”.

Elizabeth and her family lived in a Grade II listed remote country house set in 111 acres in Wales for 22 years before downsizing to Acton.

“It was the wilds of Wales, a very damp climate and they didn’t make cheese, they just made butter; it was too wet even for the hard cheese.”

Elizabeth who has 22 cookery books to her name advised, “Look out for the little cheeses, because big cheeses come from very rich, big farming areas and rich landowners whereas the little cheeses come from small farms.”

 After the parmesan cracking ceremony, Elisabeth Luard promptly sat down at a local café, got out her sketchbook & painted it from memory. Photograph by Lucinda MacPherson

The next Chiswick Cheese Market will be on June 20

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Upcoming outdoor markets

See also: First pop up Antiques Market a success

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