Inspired by an array of websites, I stopped by for a wander early on Friday afternoon, drifting throught the crowds of business suits queued up for chorizo sandwich or pork-and-stilton burger. Eventually, I joined those waiting patiently for a venison steak sandwich, topped with a very respectable salad and tomato relish. The truffle vendor remembered me from two weeks ago, although this was my first trip there and we'd never met. The high end wine merchant stocked large bottles of Brachetto d'Acqui... and Château d'Yquem vintages. (As well, they had argan oil and maple sugar candies imported from Canada.) Two competitors stocked foie gras... and another sold the meat of the birds fattened for it, famed for their richness of flavor and used in duck confit. Handmade butter, a wide array of sausages and black puddings, black teas and coffees, blood oranges and more beautiful mushrooms than I've ever seen before... I bought sparingly. I was indecisive over the wealth of cheese options, and vowed to take C. back there the next day to choose a few.
On Saturday, we made it there at the end of a long day of tourism and shopping, lugging bags of previous purchases. C. was weary, so I showed him around only briefly. We bought a bottle of elderberry wine before cross the pedestrian-thronged street to the other branch of Neil's Yard Dairy across the street, famed purveyors of high-quality cheeses. Thanks to the cheese education provided by saffronjan and John, I knew I wanted a slice of Colston Bassett Stilton. The man helping me proffered other cheese when I said I wanted soft ones... a foamy goat's cheese with a complex and vaguely spicy aftertaste, and a rich, drippingly soft sheep's cheese. Convinced by taste, I bought them both. To my relief, my first attempt at baking savory bread - soda, not yeast - turned out perfectly for the cheeses, the sturdy taste of wholegrain supporting the complexities of the wine-like cheeses.