From Mainstreet, to Market…

Blog · Posted August 15, 2013

Bill & Shaun head to London to learn more about our suppliers

Once upon a sunny Monday, Bill and Shaun left Mainstreet and sleepy St Boswells, and headed for the busy streets of London – in search of Jamón and Cheese…

Since we opened our Deli 9 months ago, we have been expanding our knowledge of food and suppliers day by day. We are now beginning to feel more confident in our knowledge, and eager to learn more! With that in mind, Bill and Shaun decided it was time to hone their skills and arranged some one on one training in London’s food mecca – Borough Market. They spent 2 days working with our existing supplier of Spanish products Brindisa and our new cheese supplier Neal’s Yard Dairy.

Shaun’s Diary

Day 1:

Up at the crack of dawn Bill and I headed to Berwick Upon Tweed to get the first train to London. We arrived at Kings Cross, grabbed a quick (but delicious) lunch from Leon and headed straight for Borough Market to meet Talia Giles, a member of the inspiring team at Neal’s Yard Dairy. Upon arrival we immediately donned wellies and white coats, scrubbed up and hosed down. Comedy moment – trying to find hats that fit us!

We began by going through each and every cheese – a lot of talking,  a lot of tasting! Talia took us through the cheese histories, makers, how they came to be, how they have changed throughout the years etc. We tasted our way through;

-The Terratorials
-The Cheddars
-The Rind Washed
-The Soft
-The Blues
……..feeling a little bit cheesed out by this point.

We finished by getting a brief run through of the following day, where we would be behind the counter, serving Neal’s Yard customers – major responsibility! Feeling nervous and full of cheese, we left and headed to meet our former Mainstreet colleague Thomas, for a long overdue catch up and several beers…

Day 2:
Sunny morning, crossed Tower Bridge on my way to meet Bill at the Neal’s Yard maturing rooms, located under the Bermondsey railway arches. Rack upon rack of cheeses, of all different varieties and stages of maturity. The whole area is chilled, with sectioned off rooms at different temperatures and humidities according to cheese type. We spot a particularly ‘Heath Robinson’ humidifier – buckets stacked one on top of the other with tubes and pipes to carry the collected water, so cool.

During our stint behind the Neal’s Yard counter we are told a story;

 The Legend of the Silent Sale

A man walks into the dairy, he meets the eye of the boy serving behind the counter. The boy silently acknowledges him and offers a sliver of cheese for the man to try. The man nods in approval, the boy gestures a size to cut with his knife. the man nods. The boy cuts and wraps the cheese, they exchange money. The man leaves with cheese in hand.

Such a challenging and exciting day, it was great to serve London customers, they really love their cheese! Plus we gathered so many of ideas and invaluable knowledge to take back to Mainstreet.

We finished up at 3 sharp to head over to Brindisa for Jamón training! We stop off at the Brindisa tapas bar for lunch and try variety of things from the menu, some of which we recognised from our deli. Totally delicious and great to experience some familiar ingredients in authentic tapas.

After lunch we set off to the Brinidisa shop to began our training. We were met by Marcus who would be sharpening up our Jamón cutting skills and teaching us the best way to approach the joint to gain the best yield and the precise cuts to make for perfect slices. We were working on the Jamón de Teruel, which is the same ham we currently have in the Mainstreet deli. Marcus also talked us through and let us taste the other varieties of Jamón, explaining the different levels of flavour complexity in each according to maturity and the diet of the animal.

After finishing up, Marcus kindly gave us the Jamón we had cut to take home – such a treat! We quickly wandered through the rest of Borough Market, and grabbed enormous pork pies from The Ginger Pig for the train home. Then we dashed off to Kings Cross to head back to Mainstreet, full of inspiration and delicious food!

A few weeks after our London visit, we were lucky enough to have Jamie Hall and Talia Giles from Neal’s Yard Dairy pay us a visit at Mainstreet. Coinciding with our first delivery, they helped us set up our cheese counter and worked the shop for the day. If you haven’t already, make sure you stop by and try some of the exceptional British cheese now on sale in our deli, Shaun and Bill are particularly enamoured with the new selection of goats cheeses including, Tymsboro, Stawley and Innis Brick.

Also in the coming weeks, keep and eye out for the arrival of the Brindisa team, who are coming up to the Borders to do some extra Jamón training with us!