Have you joined the Cheese Clique yet?
PUBLISHED: 13:13 01 November 2017
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis speaks to fromage-lover Mark Kacary of The Norfolk Deli in Hunstanton about his Cheese Clique.
It’s fair to say that Mark and Rosie Kacary are massive foodies.
So much so that having visited the markets of Florence, New York, Barcelona (and London) they decided to set up their own deli with a difference in north Norfolk four years ago, bringing all their food fantasies and experiences together under one roof.
And, exactly one year ago, they launched the Cheese Clique (the ultimate cheese club) to showcase just some of the beautiful, changing ranges of cheese they demonstrate within the deli, including around 20 different varieties made on the doorstep in Norfolk.
“When we looked into Norfolk cheeses there were so few places, including the dairies themselves, who sell them, so we decided to sell online too,” said Mark. “As a result of that we’ve sent Norfolk cheeses as far up as Aberdeen and to Germany. We moved on and thought, what more can we do and how can we make it fun? And that’s kind of where the cliques came from. I didn’t want to be called The Cheese Club. We did our research and looked at varying types of cheese club around and the conclusion I came to was there was no set pattern about the clubs other than, come the date they’re going to send you some cheeses (whatever’s in the counter they need to get rid of). We thought let’s make it different. Come and join us on a journey. We split it into two different routes –the equivalent of a railway Euro pass or a British pass.”
The British Cheese Clique explores just some of the 900 different cheeses made across the UK, leaping from county to county on a tastebud tantalising journey. “Over 12 months customers end up trying two different cheeses every month from a different county. They come with tasting notes and crackers so they can open the pack and start tasting. The European one is slightly different in that I could try and do 12 different countries around Europe but they each have different regions, so we tend to focus on those.”
The cliques have really taken off and membership, £24 a month, makes a fantastic gift for the person who has everything, especially at Christmas.
When it comes to cheese, Mark says he’s proud to live in a county where so many variants are being produced. “Look at Mrs Temple. You’ve got her alpine cheese and Copys Cloud and Binham Blue. We get so many people who love that. We can offer a Norfolk-made brie-style cheese, ewes’ milk brie, goats’ milk brie from Fielding Cottage, or cows’ milk from Fen Farm.
“We’ve got cheeses like Norfolk Dapple and Smoked Dapple. Willow Farm’s White Lady. There is a lot more variety than I think people will appreciate, in some ways a lot more variety than other counties around the country.”
Cheeses from Norfolk that Mark recommends are Alsop & Walker’s Lord London, which is: “Really citrusy. When you cut into that one it’s like a cheese fondant. The inside is all runny. And someone who finds Baron Bigod or classic brie too strong might like Waterloo or Wigmore. There’s such a variety of British cheeses. Both my wife and I scratch our heads with puzzlement when people come into the shop and say they don’t like cheese!”
Rosie’s favourite, apparently, is the creamy blue German Montagnolo, which has been a big winner internationally. The couple enjoy that sliced onto the Fine Cheese Company’s Bath Oval biscuits.
On the side, from the deli, there might be a slice of Eastgate Larder’s medlar jelly, or a dollop of Candi’s Chutney – and, of course, a bottle of local wine from a vineyard such as Winbirri.
Regular visitors to the deli will find the cheese counter always fresh with new things to try, says Mark, to keep their passion for real farmhouse cheeses ignited.
“We have fantastic, amazing Camembert from a small French dairy which is unlike any other cheese. It’s got this softish brown skin washed in walnut liqueur and when you taste it you can taste an overriding flavour of walnut, not the alcohol. It makes the counter unique. While there’s a lot of British cheese we recognise that people do want a classic Brie de Meaux too.”
Find out more about the Cheese Clique here.