Screw the jingle bells. Burn the Christmas tree. Sack off the turkey. We all know who the real king of Christmas is – that lump of mouldy, heavenly dairy that waits to clog your arteries and giddy your brain post-dinner: stilton. Here are five excellent choices in town.
You can’t go wrong with Neal’s Yard, but in their mass of options, there's the Colton Bassett stilton. It's fruity, creamy and veiny (‘ello ‘ello!) though less blue, and ripened for longer than Bassett’s usual offering – the recipe was created specifically for the cheese gods that are Neal's Yard. Although a well-known cheese, they like to keep things local, and the milk comes from five farms that are all within a 1.5-mile radius of the dairy. From £12.80 for approx 520g.
If you want to feel truly posh this Christmas there is no better, nor snootier place to head than the Ritz’s minty green (almost) neighbour Fortnum & Mason. Obviously, its stilton comes in a wonderfully over-the-top jar. You can choose between Christmas Spiced, Truffle & Honey, Traditional Ported and plain old Potted. From £14.50-£24
A recent Love London Award winner, Cheeses of Muswell Hill has a lot to be proud of, not least their Colston Bassett stilton. It's aged for three months, crumbly and has a lasting tang (and, most likely, pong). This is the classic version, which comes from a Nottinghamshire-based dairy. From £14.
Spitalfield’s Androuet has an extensive selection of cheese. This is Christmas, however, so ignore the many terrific French options and head for the Cropwell Bishop — also hailing from the stilton capital of the world, Nottinghamshire. This guy’s very soft, with a rich flavour, and is aged for around 12 weeks. It's got less of the crumble factor, and more of the mouth melt than some of the other choices. £2.67 for 100g.
Possibly the only spot that can beat Neal’s Yard for whack-around-the-face smell-factor, the giant cool room at Marylebone’s La Fromagerie is a treat for all cheese nuts. Although the usual suspects can be found here (Cropwell Bishop and Colston Bassett) an interesting alternative is the similarly named and looking (though not strictly stilton) stichelton. This cheese is rich and has a light spice to it, and is highly responsive to different points of the year, changing subtly in flavour.