Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Lovers of British cheese - your prayers answered

"Do you have supermarkets in Poland?" I'm sometimes asked in London. Indeed we do. At my local one, I have a choice of four brands of pesto (Agnesi, Gran Italia, Barilla and Sacla), three brands of roquefort (La Societe, Verniere, Gabriel Coulet), fresh corriander, freshly-pressed sea-buckberry juice - in other words, Polish supermarkets are well stocked. "Do you miss any British foods?" Well, I dare say I can live without seven-eights of the stuff that graces British supermarket shelves - white sliced bread, Swiss rolls, orange squash, Dairylea, pilchards, Battenberg cake, Carling lager etc - but I do miss GOOD BRITISH CHEESE!

After 12 years in Poland, I'm still really stuck on why British cheese producers have failed miserably to get their wonderful product into Polish shops, when Gorgonzolas, Jarlsbergs, Edams and Feta are so freely available. I am reminded of the Monty Python cheese shop sketch:

Cleese: Aah, how about Cheddar?

Palin: Well, we don't get much call for it around here, sir.

Cleese: Not much call...? It's the single most popular cheese in the world!
Palin: Not round here it isn't, sir.

The British have been terrible at exporting their specialties. Look at the photo (top). Spot the odd-man-out. It's the Irish Kerrygold butter. The packaging - it's in Polish! Available in Poland for at least ten years, we pay a premium price for it because of the taste and because it spreads easily straight from the fridge. Cheddar - you can get 'cheddar' at our local Auchan - but it's Irish cheddar in mild and 'old' varieties. But a decent gum-tingling vintage, extra-mature English cheddar, with a decent rind on it - not a chance. Not to mention Stilton.

Until this year, that is. An enterprising Anglo-Pole has started bringing over the very best of British cheese, a fascinating range at affordable prices (the cheeses above cost me just over 90 zlotys).

Enquiries to - no website, but excellent service, free delivery in Kraków and Warsaw.

The Nairn's Capital Oatcakes, Branston Pickle or Pickled Onions in the photo - I have to bring in myself from the UK. Same goes for Marmite, Tilda Basmati rice, pork scratchings, decent ciders, TCP and Dettox.

For my readers unaware of the wonders of British cheese, I can tell you that they are as rich and diverse as the UK's regional accents. Read the Wikipedia article and sample the delights.

UPDATE 9 August 2009:A visit to Real (a German-owned hypermarket chain) last night revealed that a range of Pilgrim's Choice cheeses are on sale, including Double Gloucester, a favourite of Eddie's, and some organic Cheddars. Pilgrim's Choice came to Poland for the BPCC's annual Agri-Food Forum in November 2007. Good to see their cheeses getting into mainstream hypermarkets.

This time last year:
Through the wetlands, on foot

The time two years ago:
Rainbows and rainfall records
Miserable grey little island


DC said...

There's nothing else that will do when I have a craving for Stilton.

Dinolaure said...

Poor guy ! I feel really sorry to learn that Stilton is not available in Warsaw (as french native, I'm a born member of the tasteful cheese association and confirm that both Stilton and old cheddar are eligible) So shocking ! Won't help, but all the Roquefort brands are produced from a single company now... makes the job easier !

Dinolaure said...

I followed the link to british cheese...OMG! Perfidious Albion now pretends to have more sort of cheeses than France ! Johann of Arc, wakes up ! (LOL !)

Ewa said...

Thanks for the plug Michael :) But you promised to share it with your colleagues... Did they get a look in?

Michael Dembinski said...

The Staff cheese-tasting takes place on Monday (when key people return from hols).