For many of us cheese is the ultimate comfort food, whether it’s a mature Cheddar, a soft Brie or a strong-flavoured Stilton.
But mass-produced supermarket options don’t always hit the spot, and with lockdown restricting our movements, going to an artisan cheese shop might not feel like an essential journey.
You’ll be pleased to know, then, that many cheese vendors throughout the north of Scotland and Tayside are now delivering door-to-door, with some places also offering contactless in-store collection for those able to leave the house.
One of them is Provender Brown Delicatessen in Perth, which has gone from carrying out ad-hoc deliveries pre-lockdown to introducing it as a regular service.
Owner Diane Brown said: “We’re getting used to working differently during lockdown, same as other businesses. The shop is still open, but we also have orders coming in for collection and delivery that we have to prepare, so it’s busy – we’ve been busy the whole way through lockdown.
“I’m finding that the longer this is going on, the more people are physically coming into the shop. I think it’s a combination of people realising we’re open and becoming bolder about going out for their food shopping. We’re now having to put more stringent measures in place to ensure social distancing, such as only letting in three people at a time. People have been very understanding and supportive.
“We’ve still got our regular customers and we’ve got new customers finding us too. Cheese is selling well across the board, a little bit of everything. At the moment we’re having some issues with supply of Continental cheeses and we’re trying to focus on supporting local produce as much as possible.
“We’ll judge whether to keep on doing deliveries after lockdown based on how much demand there is. At the moment there is a lot of demand, I had to hire an extra person to help in the shop and deliver, but I think a lot of people like their weekly trip to the deli so they’ll probably want to go back to doing that – we’ll see.”
Meanwhile further north, Cromarty Cheese House, which specialises in Dutch cheeses, has been doing weekly deliveries in the Black Isle after losing its usual income stream from tourism and the Inverness Farmers Market.
Co-owner Jon Palmer, who runs the shop with his wife Emmy, said: “We’re still surviving – only just.
“Cromarty only has a population of around 700, so before the lockdown we relied on markets and fairs, such as the Inverness Farmers Market. That’s now gone, so we made the decision to do deliveries with the van that we used for going to the markets before. We deliver around the black Isle on a Saturday, around a dozen orders every week.
“We don’t have staff to pay, it’s just me and my wife, so we’re managing for now thanks to the deliveries and the government business rates scheme. We’re lucky to have loyal customers who are continuing to support us.
“We’ll just have to take things as they come. July, August and September are usually very busy for us with tourists, but that may not happen this year. We’ll have to adapt as best as we can.”
Whether you’re after an ordinary Cheddar for a sandwich or something a bit more special, the following independent local businesses have you covered…
The Cheesery, Dundee
Established in 2008, this family-run, independent cheese shop sells a large variety of regional and continental artisan cheeses with favourites including Cheddars, Gorgonzola Dolce, creamy Highland and the award winning Brie de Meux Donge. They offer online deliveries through their online contact form.
I.J. Mellis Cheesemongers, St Andrews
Founded by Iain Mellis, who has worked in the cheese industry for 15 years, I.J Mellis offers traditional farmhouse cheese. This differs from mass-produced factory products because the milk comes from a single herd rather than several different sources, and is usually unpasteurised meaning that the defining flavours are left untouched. A range of cheeses are available from I.J Mellis’s online shop.
Cambus O’May Cheese, Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire
This creamery prides itself on offering unique, hand-made unpasteurised cheese made from the owners’ own family recipes and using methods that haven’t changed in 50 years. Cambus O’May is open for email orders throughout the lockdown.
Gourmet Cheese Company, Aberdeen
This cheesery specialises in local and European cheeses, working mainly with small producers and keeping its range seasonal. The range is purposely kept relatively small, but ever-changing, in order to ensure quality. Personalised gift hampers are also available. The Gourmet Cheese Company is currently offering pick-up or delivery.
Graham’s Family Dairy, Arbroath and Fife
If you’re a fan of cottage cheese, Graham’s is a good shout, with a range of plain and fruit-flavoured products – strawberry, black cherry and peach. Although it is a local business, the best place to find Graham’s cottage cheese is at Aldi’s chain stores throughout Scotland.
Provender Brown Delicatessen, Perth
This small, family-run business offers a range of delicatessen products including artisan cheeses such as hard ripe Cheddars, creamy Bries and strong-flavoured blues. During lockdown there is a delivery service available, as well as the option to pick up products in-store, with social distancing, hand-sanitising and card payments in place.
Advertising itself as the “home of grilled cheese”, Melt is Aberdeen’s first sit-down grilled-cheese sandwich restaurant. Although the restaurant is now closed, it is delivering cheese board boxes containing a range of cheeses and the option of gluten-free crackers.
Connage Highland Dairy
This multiple award-winning dairy produces Scottish organic cheese and has recently expanded its online shop, including click-and-collect options, to cater to customers during the lockdown. There are 40 cheeses available to buy online as well as other products such as crackers and chutneys.
The Cheese House, Highlands
Located at Cromarty’s former police station, this cheese shop specialises in Dutch cheese and chutneys. Run by Emmy and Jon, a couple from the Netherlands and Scotland respectively, the Cheese House is doing weekly deliveries around the Black Isle on a Saturday.
Scottish Gourmet Food, Inverness
This company sells a wide range of luxury foods, including cheeses from local producers that can be purchased individually or in a gift hamper for a special occasion. You can order online, with 10% of the value of orders being donated to the NHS during lockdown.