Cheese lovers of London, Crystal Palace is a great place to take your family or friends for a day out. It sits on the highest hill in London and, although Crystal Palace television masts are a familiar landmark, surprisingly few people have actually been there. You can safely recommend the beautiful Victorian park complete with life-sized sculptures of dinosaurs, the National Sports Centre and its stadium, the ruins of the exhibition hall after which the district is named, and the spectacular views of the City of London to be seen from the town centre. Crystal Palace is easy to get to by train and has a newly renovated station, which has the grandeur of a cathedral with the additional benefit of a café selling homemade cakes.
Whilst family or friends are happily absorbed investigating the dinosaurs, the ruins or admiring the views, you (the dedicated cheese lover) can slip away to visit Good Taste Food and Drink at 28 Westow Hill in the centre of town.
Manish Utton-Mishra’s Good Taste Food and Drink describes itself as “a specialist cheese, charcuterie, beer and wine shop in the heart of the Crystal Palace Triangle” and this out-of-town visitor enjoyed his visit. You can browse to your heart’s content, taste silvers of the cheeses that take your fancy, and chat about cheese with the knowledgeable staff. GTF&D has a good selection of British cheeses (and yes, that includes Irish, Welsh and Scottish cheeses, like Hafod, an organic cheese from the entirely unpronounceable Bwlchwernen Fawr in deepest Wales). GTF&D buys many of its British cheeses direct from the cheese-maker and sources French and other overseas cheeses from a specialist wholesaler.
Allerdale, a mature goat’s cheese made by Thornby Moor Dairy, caught my eye as did a raw milk blue cheese called Young Buck, which is a new kid on the block from Mike Thomson of Newtonards in Northern Ireland. Both tasted good and I bought some of each. I also tasted Lancashire Bomb, which is coated in black wax and looks like a cannon ball. A half bomb covered in cling film was available for samples on that day.
The GTF&D shop has a happy enthusiastic feel: all the cheeses on display have a label but Richard, the camera-shy cheese monger had got carried away and labelled the radio too. You will receive a friendly unpressured welcome. If you are at a loss for a day out in London, Crystal Palace is just the ticket and you can be sure that your family or friends will also have a good time.