If heaven was represented by food… this would be it
It’s not often you get invited to visit a cave but at the Hove end of Western Road, there is one that has built itself a great reputation over the last six years – La Cave á Fromage.
As David the manager took us through the menu, he explained La Cave is not a deli as many people think, it’s a cheese shop. As well as purchasing items to take home, you can dine in and leverage the extensive knowledge the team has with a ‘try before you buy’ experience. Alongside the wide array of cheeses on offer, there is also bread, charcuterie, paté and wines from across Europe making the only problem, deciding what to have.
Since my love affair with cheese has only blossomed recently, I’m only just starting to form a taste for the vast spectrum of flavours that can be experienced. Simon, on the other hand, is a cheese fanatic and his ‘desert island’ food item would be ‘anything cheesy’.
Transporting me back to Tuscany
The menu is formed around small (£6) and large (£10) plates and a variety of specials that if paired with wines as well, are priced up to £29. Having recently returned from Tuscany, I was drawn to the Parma to Amalfi Regional Platter – £10, which includes: 24 month Parma prosciutto, Milano salami, bresaola with Buffalo d’Mozzarella and 36-month Parmigiano-Reggiano. Alongside my platter, I also ordered a glass or Viognier, which is a light, dry wine, with peach floral notes and a low acidity. If you usually drink Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio I recommend giving this grape a try instead.
A fridge just for cheese and wine
Simon, more bravely, put himself in David’s expert hands, allowing him to select whatever he recommended for both the cheese and charcuterie. It would turn out to be a wise decision. As we waited eagerly for the plates to be prepared we enjoyed the wine and admired the extensive cheese fridge that takes pride of place amongst the intimate dining area. Forget a bat cave filled with gadgets to fight crime, this was far more up Simon’s street.
A journey of Europe, through cheese
The cheeses on Simon’s board were laid out in an ever increasing degree of strength as it’s designed to be eaten in that order. Starting with a Goat’s Cheese made just down the road in Lewes, the selection spanned Europe with a Normandy Camembert drizzled in truffle honey, a Spanish Manchego, a three-year-old Gouda from Holland and then back to Normandy for a washed rind, with a very pungent odour before returning to the UK for a port infused Stilton from Nottinghamshire.
Whilst all were very tasty, two of the cheeses stood out for us. The Gouda was a complex hard cheese packed with layers of flavour that ranged from nutty through to caramel and then coffee. It was so delicious Simon couldn’t leave without purchasing a block costing £20. Extravagant – yes. Worth it – definitely.
The taste of Christmas
Simon’s other favourite was the Stilton, which La Cáve ages for 14 weeks, 2 more than is typical, then comes the good bit… They inject and soak the cheese with Port and leave for a further 3 months. The pinky tinge this creates adds a sweetness that complements the sharpness of the blue cheese that Simon described as “tasting like Christmas”. The accompanying charcuterie, most notably the venison, were all very enjoyable but the cheese certainly and deservingly, stole the show.
RATING: Must Go | Worth A Try | Give it a Miss
PRICE: £39 (1 Regional Platter, 1 Cheese Board with wine & 1 Charcuterie Board with wine)
SCORES ON THE DOORS: 5/5 from the FSA for food hygiene
We had thought that our platters would prove a nice starter before heading out somewhere for dinner, but we were mistaken. Perhaps we over indulged, but the large chunks of cheese along with the ample basket of fig & almond bread that we consumed left us both stuffed. Leaving a tip that reflected how much we’d enjoyed the evening we tottered out of the shop, with our purchases of cheese (£20) and quince jelly (£6) – a whole lot merrier than when we first arrived.
Need to Know
La Cáve A Fromage also has two more shops in South Kensington and more recently, Nottinghill. Each Thursday night the Hove branch runs a themed tasting night (£40pp), which is a great way to explore this fascinating world and a fun way to socialise. With Christmas approaching, this would make a great evening catching up with friends or a unique kind of Christmas office lunch. La Cave also offers hampers priced at £60, which would make a great gift for the cheese lover in your life.
If you enjoyed this post or found it useful please let me know by hitting the heart button below or better still, leave me a comment. As someone just getting into the world of cheese, I’d love to know what cheeses you recommend I try.
*Disclaimer: I was invited to La Cave á Fromage to review on a complimentary basis, but as always, my opinion isn’t swayed by freebies and you are getting my honest opinion on the whole experience.