A guide to the best cheese shops in Edinburgh
The finest purveyors of Strathdon Blue, Dunlop Cheddar and many more Scottish cheeses
Soft, hard, blue or smelly – cheese comes in every guise. For the best, let your nose lead you to a specialist
In the popular parlour game of ‘if you had to give something up for life, what would it be?’ (Strictly Come Dancing or X Factor, partner or friends, stilettos or trainers), many have foundered over the choice between cheese or orgasms. You think it’s an easy decision, but then you start to ruminate on a sliver of Strathdon Blue or a nibble of Cromarty Large, and before you know it, you’re off in search of a cheese to satisfy your desire. And blessed as it is with cheese makers, Edinburgh is the place to go, a veritable magnet for turophiles, or cheese connoisseurs.
Up in Bruntsfield is Clark’s, a family-run deli with an astonishing array of cheeses of every texture, colour and smell, many of which are Scottish. The focus is on farmhouse and artisan produce, and if you don’t know the difference, the counter-top tasters will soon have you hooked.
In the centre of town, just follow your nose and you’ll wind up at cheese heaven, otherwise known as I J Mellis in Victoria Street, which you can smell before you see it. Founded in 1993, after Iain Mellis became frustrated by the lack of quality farmhouse cheese available, the firm now supplies many of the city’s best restaurants. Branches have opened up across Edinburgh – in Morningside and Stockbridge – and further afield in St Andrews, Aberdeen and Glasgow. Visit and you’ll find more than 60 varieties on offer – more cheese than a celebrity edition of Come Dine with Me.
If your taste runs to Italian cheeses, try the city’s famous Italian deli, Valvona & Crolla, whose parmesan and gorgonzola (and its Irish, French and Scots cheeses) will have you drooling.
On Saturdays, the place to be is the award-winning Edinburgh Farmers’ Market, at Castle Terrace, where handmade organic cheese is always on sale. Out of town, meanwhile, is Craigie’s Farm Deli and Café at West Craigie Farm, Queensferry. Run on an ethos of fresh and local, it stocks between 15 and 20 Scottish cheeses, with Mull Cheddar, smoked applewood, Strathdon Blue and Dunlop Cheddar among those being served up in the café on a gaffer’s platter, so you can try before you buy.
What all of these cheese specialists have in common is that they’re definitely not as cheap as chips, but then quality costs and why have chips (or orgasms), when you can have cheese?
Clark’s Speciality Foods
202 Bruntsfield Place, 0131 656 0500, www.clarksfoods.co.uk
Craigie’s Farm Deli and Cafe
West Craigie Farm, South Queensferry, 0131 319 1048, www.craigies.co.uk
I J Mellis
30A Victoria Street (branches throughout the city), www.mellischeese.co.uk
Valvona & Crolla Ltd
19 Elm Row, 0131 556 6066, www.valvonacrolla.co.uk