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What does vegetarian cheese have to do with the price of chips?

This month's cheese; I scour the country looking for new and interesting cheeses, sometimes I hit a home run and things fall it to place quickly others I find myself skipping from base to base slowly edging around - which is what happened this month!

Alas, we have four more amazing hand crafted cheeses to grace your platters this month, my favourite wasn't just tasty, I just loved the name, The Norfolk Mardler!

Loving a chinwag at the markets as much as I do and through online enquiries I became aware of a gap in our offering, people have been asking me for a goats cheese that's not particularly 'goaty'. And that's how I came across... the Norfolk Mardler. It's a semi-hard, mild goats cheese wrapped in wax to lock in all that lovely moisture. The name also means to chatter, for the people of Norfolk, so perhaps that's also why it was a big hit with me!

But you're probably wondering what all this has to do with vegetarian cheese and my job in a chip shop...absolutely nothing (just kidding!)

Well firstly, the Norfolk Mardler is a vegetarian goats cheese.

Many years ago in a previous life I worked in a chip shop. The owner was great at all things fish and chips but not so hot on the detail when it came to ingredients, this

was 20 or so years ago (which makes me sound much older than I am) but it was a time before I had even heard the word vegan and vegetarians seemed few and far between. One particular conversation sticks in my mind as I learned a number of valuable lessons.

In a nutshell, a customer asked politely if the cheese pie (popular in the north of England, especially with gravy) was vegetarian. She was sniggered at by the owner and told "it's a cheese pie, there's no meat in it" and derided further by being told it was a stupid question. Needless to say the customer never bought the pie and never came back! I learnt two things from witnessing this encounter. Firstly, when a customer asks a question take a moment to pause, listen and learn and appreciate them taking time to ask. Secondly...

Cheese can sometimes (and traditionally) contain animal products such as rennet; a protein from a sheep's stomach used to coagulate/set the curds.

This information, that not all cheese is vegetarian, has stood me in good stead in later life when it came to organising the office "cheesemas" or events for large groups of people and also when it came to setting up my humble homage to fromage. You will find that all of our monthly cheese boxes and gift packs give you a "vegetarian option" as well as the option to select 'no blue cheese'. It has been really important to us to listen to feedback and act upon it.

As a result you will also find some vegan samples at the market over the next few weeks as this is something I am being asked for more and more.

We are keen to offer something for everyone so please do keep putting forward your suggestions and asking plenty of questions - if nothing else, we'll have a good mardle!

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