Some friends treated us to a wine and cheese tasting evening at a fancy fromagerie shop in South Ken, and we held out a little bit for the champagne evening. Four cheese and four matched champagnes – good stuff.
La Cave à Fromage is on that former roundabout opposite South Ken tube, definitely tapping in to the heart of Paris in London. It has a hugely comprehensive range of French cheeses (with a few English goats I noticed, imagine that in Paris!) and plenty of complimentary produce, such as charcuterie, breads and wine. I believe they even do brunch too. It’s a very professional, passionate business and they really know their stuff. They work with artesian cheesemakers across France to commission their own bespoke products too.
We started with a Chaource, which was a bit of an oddity. It’s a two-tone, two-texture cow’s milk cheese, which is soft, creamy and white in the middle and similar to a Brie or Camembert, but it also has a darker, more crumbly framing surrounding the centre. It’s delicious. The wine (this one was a sparkling, not a champagne – hmmmm) wasn’t very fizzy and quite sweet – from Gaillac in the Southwest.
Next was my favourite, the Beaufort. This had a similar look and feel to comte, but was more rich and creamy, rather than nutty. It is matured longer and was very addictive. In fact I ended up buying some. The champagne was also my pick of the night; crisp yet fruity, from a small, rebellious house near Epernay – Daniel Caillez, Cuvee Brut Premiere.
The obligatory blue followed, from the French Basque country. This was good, but a bit forgettable sadly because everybody was crowing on about the Beaufort, including myself! I also had an amazing blue at The Oak recently and this wasn’t as deep in flavour. The champagne was from the same house. Daniel Caillez, but their rosé. Interestingly, this was sharper, drier and less fruity than their blanc. I didn’t like it as much, but it certainly went down easily at this point in the night…
Finally we had some Langres, which had been menacingly oozing its juices in the corner for quite a while, and giving off a punchy whiff. Somebody told me once that the smelliest, most challenging cheeses are actually a lot milder on taste than you’d think. Not the case with this one – it was hardcore and although I soldiered through it, plenty of others couldn’t finish it. It’s a cylindrical, soft cheese and not for the feint-hearted.
The champagne here was La Cave’s own house champagne – a perfectly drinkable, very yellowy drop. It was quite a simple champagne and I think probably chosen to not clash with the strength of the cheese. Also it’s probably the cheapest champagne too, so not as wasteful on the merry, lubricated palates of the crowd, now clamouring for top-ups.
They also put on some charcuterie for us; some excellent smoked beef slices which tasted intense, smoky and almost gamey, and then some slices of white, smoked pork fillet which weren’t as flavoursome. And there was plenty of bread alongside the cheeses (curiously ciabatta rather than baguette) – but no water.
Overall it was a great occasion and something fun I’d recommend anyone to do. It was about £30 and they do all sorts of different themed evenings, detailed on their website.
Food – 9/10
Drink – 8/10
Service - 7/10
Value – 7/10 (4 champagnes basic isn't great, but lots of liberal top ups so ok)
Tap water tales – 0/10 (no water offered or suggested, not too wise for a champagne tasting!)
Staff Hotness – 6/10 (one guy was Parisian chic, the other more 'garlic-round-neck' farmer - very nice though!)