Book Review: The London Cheese & Wine Guide

I saw a review of this book elsewhere on the internet and thought it would fit this blog well and requested a review copy.(yes I know this is primarily a beer blog, but as its my blog I choose what goes).   I was kindly obliged and it arrived today. If I didn't like it then I would say so! As I mentioned to the writers, I probably would have ended up buying one anyway, but this way its more timely given that its just been released in time for the Christmas market I have no doubt.

Its a stylish looking volume, paperback with glossy card cover and full colour throughout. Handily arranged into sections by business type, with cheese given the respect it deserves and coming first*. We're taken through the top specialist shops, delicatessens and even more impressively the cheese stalls at borough market. There's a top 5 given for each section to aid you in your cheesy quest should the choice become overwhelming. I particularly like the full market guide, showing all the London markets and which cheese vendors attend each and when, very useful! This would come in handy for an out of town tourist like myself in deciding which particular market would be best to visit.

I also learnt that I'm a turophile. No that doesn't mean I have an affinity with a certain Cornish town but it means I'm a lover of cheese. Stay tuned for a post on the symptomns of turophilia...

On the wine side of things we're given a selection of wine merchants and wine bars. There's also a selection on retailers which provide both cheese and wine (for all your one-stop cheese and wine party organising needs) and restaurants that have particularly impressive wine lists and cheese boards. Stuffed full of information alongside the essentials such as nearest tube station and contact details we get the owners names and typical pricing, by glass of wine or type of cheese (with brie de meaux, cheddar, parmigano-reggiano and stilton taken as benchmarks).

As is always the case I find there's a pile of cheeses I've not even heard of, let alone tasted but now I know where to find them and roughly what I'll be paying for the privilege too! I found myself adding venues to visit to Google maps as I was flicking through, a sure sign the guide is doing its job. I think a handy addition would have been a basic map of London showing the approximate location of each venue; so those short of time or staying in a particular area can see what's nearby. 

Some useful symbols to find the information you need.
Although the bulk of the book is taken up by the aforementioned listings there are also guides on buying, storing and tasting cheeses and wines and a handy wine styles aroma chart (which if you're a complete wine newbie like myself comes in handy for working out what I might like). There are also a few recipes from featured establishments (with the Deli Downstairs' Pork, Thyme and Tallegio pizza sounding particularly tasty)  and a cheese and wine pairings table with some suggested matches. I'm a little disappointed to find that beer and cider have only been suggested as matches for manchego and cheddar, especially given their favourite pairings include London Porter with Gruyère and cider with a blue cheese! I suppose I should be grateful they even get a mention in what is essentially a monobooze book.

Overall I can happily recommend the book for those looking to seek out some cheesy and wine delights in London's capital, there's certainly enough of them!

The London Cheese & Wine Guide  by Lucy Gregory and Jeffrey Young is available direct from the publishers, Allegra for £11.95+P&P, or as usual on Amazon for a little less. The website also has some good supporting information and offers a subscription service of £5 pa to access the book listings, additional updates and recipes. Follow them on twitter @LCandWG.

Big thanks to Hana Gajdosova for the review copy and the Allegra team for writing such a useful guide.

*I suspect this has more to do with the order in the title, but I'll pretend to please myself.

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