Filed under: Dining
Neal's Yard Dairy was founded in 1979, offering Greek-style yogurts, crème fraiche and, of course, cheese. Initially a distributor of lackluster wholesale cheeses, the Dairy began to evolve into a world-renowned specialist when owner Randolph Hodgson drove his rickety Citroen to a countryside farm and returned to London with a load of delectable Devonshire Garland cheese.
By sampling more cheeses and talking to customers, Hodgson grew his palate and his business--and outgrew the physical location of Neal's Yard. In 1992 the company moved to 17 Shorts Garden, where it still has a shop. The Dairy also expanded to include maturing rooms under the brick railway arches that support the main line from London Bridge to Dover, as well as a Neal's Yard Creamery located on Dorstone Hill, overlooking the Wye Valley in Herefordshire.
Hodgson still keeps close ties with cheesemakers and customers--he hand-picks cheddars by visiting England's West Country every eight weeks, sampling young cheese to select which batches will be matured for Neal's Yard Dairy. His Citroen has been replaced with a fleet of climate-controlled vans that shuttle cheeses around London, where mature cheese is sold through his two shops.
For those located outside the British Isles, goods from Neal's Yard Dairy are available in restaurants around the world, and by direct order from the company's website. Though the original batch of Devonshire Garland is long gone, there are still plenty of similar West Country cheeses available.
Vote now for what you believe is the best of breed in Gourmet Foods. Readers' Choice Awards for Food will be announced on November 30th.