It would be Edam shame to miss this!
IT was never going to be difficult to get my husband to go along with me to the culinary heaven that is The Cheese Kitchen in Bedford.
Situated in a rather unassuming row of shops just outside the town centre (although you can see why this is good spot for them – being a stone’s throw away from what must be some of Bedford’s smartest streets), it’s a friendly little shop and cafe with a few seats in the window inside and more tables outside under a large awning.
The shop was opened by Helen and Justin Waldock nine years ago, and from their Twitter feed it looks as though a second branch is on the cards.
Given the name, you’d expect a counter groaning with the good stuff, and The Cheese Kitchen doesn’t disappoint.
There’s so much choice that I thought it best to ask for a personal recommendation, and was given a piece of Cornish Yarg to try.
The Yarg is semi-hard cow’s milk cheese, which comes wrapped in nettles – I’m not quite sure why – and it was very tasty.
There were plenty of blues on offer, including Colston Stilton and Shropshire Blue, cheddars from all over the UK, and lots of choice from the continent, such as Old Amsterdam aged gouda, Spanish manchego, and Pont L’Eveque, a cheese reputed to date back to the 13th century (although I think the one on the counter was from a fresh batch).
It’s not just over-the-counter cheeses available here – you can order them in advance, have a hamper made up, join the cheese and wine club and get a monthly delivery with tasting notes, or even have them make you a cheese wedding cake, which seems like a great idea.
Aside from the cheese, there’s plenty of other stuff to tempt you. I’m a real sucker for a good lasagne, and Helen’s homemade version was available in both its traditional beef mince guise, and a veggie spinach, mushroom and ricotta. Both were delicious.
There’s also homemade soup, baguettes, panini and salad bowls, and and a tempting array of cakes and cookies, again all homemade.
Where possible the Cheese Kitchen sources its produce locally, and even the coffee is almost home-grown – it’s TostaD’oro, which is roasted in Bedford.
If you’re after something to have with your cheese, you’re spoilt for choice, with a deli range including crackers, pates and chutneys, and lots of wines, selected by the Woburn Wine Company.
And for those with enough self-control to cook with their cheese rather than gobble it up in an instant, the shop has teamed up with Masterchef the Professionals runner-up Steve Barringer.
The chef, from Westoning, began his career at Flitwick Manor, and is now providing a monthly recipe for Cheese Kitchen customers.
April’s is Shropshire Blue potato cake with braised pig’s cheek and broccoli puree, and it also comes with a wine recommendation. The recipe card is available to pick up inside the shop.