Thursday, 2 June 2011

Say cheese!

I stumbled across La Cave a Fromage quite by accident last autumn. A French friend and I were out in Hove enjoying a day of relaxation (no work, no kids). We stopped for a bite to eat at what I soon realised was a cheese palace.

At first glance, La Cave could be mistaken for an upmarket cheese shop. Peering in the window, the view is dominated by a large cheese counter with a charcuterie chiller behind. But further back wooden seating is arranged with space for plenty of diners and it’s clear this is more than a smart sales operation.

My friend has very good taste and is familiar with many of the French cheese source locations – she was impressed. Until this point in time, my cheese mostly came (in abundance) from a supermarket.

I quickly realised my simple love of all things cheesy had found a quality haven. The choice was bewildering and, while everything I sampled was fantastic, I vowed to return better prepared for the overwhelming cheesiness of the experience.

Despite the fantastic first impressions, it was not until last week I finally made my trek back to La Cave. I took a different friend with me for this visit, Sarah, another fan of fromage who was more than willing to spend a couple of early evening hours sampling savoury goodness.

The menu is simple – a platter of cheese, with additional charcuterie if desired, and wine to suit. Sarah and I opted for a selection of six cheeses (no meat) and a glass of white wine (cost £14). The cheese was served on a slate (to help maintain the correct temperature) with a thinly sliced bread (plain white so as not to distract from the flavours) and delicious fruit chutney on the side.

The slates are about the size of a paperback book and so the portions look rather small. But the cheese is so wonderfully filling that by half way round the board Sarah and I were wondering if we would make it to the end. And it is important to go round the board in the correct direction! The cheese portions are placed in order from mildest to most flavoursome as a finale.

The serving staff were very knowledgeable, providing plenty of information on the cheeses in front of us so I’d like to say I carefully noted all the different types and can instantly recall the fancy names of the top cheeses I devoured. Alas, no matter how hard I try, I simply don’t remember the detail. All I do know is everything was delicious and the wine selected was a perfect match to the diverse cheesy tastes. And of course it is possible to buy more of any favourites to take home for later.

La Cave a Fromage is a total delight and, like good cheese, only seems to improve as time goes by.

À bientôt


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