La Fromagerie, Cheese Shop and Deli, Marylebone

If money were no object what would you spend it on?I would eat lunch and do a lot of my shopping at La Fromagerie. (And have round the clock hired help for the twins and buy the Saarinen oval table in white marble – since I’m making a list and all…).

Of the robust deli brigade in London, La Fromagerie is easily my favourite.  They don’t pile it high nor do they have the colour range of somewhere like Ottolenghi (Oh! Do you know Ottolenghi’s new book, Jerusalem is out?).  What they do is put out a selection, say 3 salads and a tart out at midday, which they only leave out for a few hours.  This ensures that you aren’t served up  a green bean puckered with age or a wedge of beetroot that has lost the glossy veneer of dressing. There are warm mains, things like a melanzane or tomato soup.What they serve is always at its best.  The San Danielle ham I had was balanced at just the right pitch of saltiness.  The ribbons of white fat were starting to be just that little bit translucent around the edges from being at room temperature – it melted on my tongue.  The figs were soft and ripe, which is the only way they are edible, an immature fig is just gritty and thin in the mouth.  That was one dish of many like that.  The charcuterie plates with stocky cornichons vinegary enough to cut through the rich homemade rillettes.  The cheese plates with a small stack of crackers and a few wedges of apple, composed with the austerity of a Baugin still life.  Chocolate cake with a spoonful of cream.

Whenever I go, I recognise customers from Melrose and Morgan, usually the older discerning ones, that know what a jewel La Fromagerie is for lunch. There are plenty of the right kind of celebrities, I’ve spotted Annie Lennox but not Cheryl Cole.The fruit and vegetables on sale are expensive but not bad value.  I rarely come across such produce, even in London, because prices like that are hard to support.  £1 a peach is a steep but I buy one now and again because it reminds me of how peaches used to taste when my mother used to bring home 2 kilos from the market.  If I had not been in such a rush today (these days I’m galloping about at high velocity, trying to fit 3 hours into 15 minutes) I would have probably bought some of the blue-purple grapes, whose hue was closer to that of blueberries than grapes.The evenings that La Fromagerie hosts are as well tuned as their dishes. This is where I discovered Maggie Beer. Recently when the great and funny Nora Ephron died, they hosted an evening in her honour.
I haven’t even mentioned the cheese or the cheese room. Best cheese you will ever have, of that I’m convinced.

La Fromagerie
2-6 Moxon Street
Marylebone
W1U 4EW
www.lafromagerie.co.uk

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