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If cheese is still on your 'to do' list before the Christmas festivities begin, there are plenty of local cheeses to choose from. And Cheese etc. in Pangbourne stocks a wide variety as Charlotte Booth found out.

CHEESE Etc., Pangbourne, has been run by Jen and Ali Grimstone-Jones since 2015.

They started their cheese journey when they came into Cheese Etc. to commission a cheese wedding cake.

On one of their return visits they were chatting to the owners, who wanted to sell the shop and Jen and Ali thought this could be just the challenge for them.

Jen said: “We did it on a complete whim as we knew nothing about cheese. It was really exciting.

“We had thought about opening a farm shop over Curridge way, but trying to find somewhere to do it and setting up from scratch was difficult. We had vaguely thought about it, but nothing as specialised as cheese.”

Neither of them even worked in the retail or food industry. Jen worked as a sports therapist and Ali was a netball coach and still coaches part-time at St Gabriel’s’ School.

When they took over Cheese Etc. there were two part-time staff and a full-time manager who went on holiday during their second week in the job, which really threw them in at the deep end.

“I studied as much as I could – and still do. I read every cheese book I could find. I lived and breathed cheese and literally threw myself into it,” Jen said.

Since then she has judged at the World Cheese Awards and the International Cheese Awards. But as well as judging, Cheese Etc. have also won the Cheese Counter of the Year award 2017/18 and this year they have won the Cheesemonger of the Year at the Farmshop Awards 2019.

Jen is hoping to continue learning at the Cheese Academy in order to become a Master of Cheese, and will then give talks on cheese as well as host cheese and wine evenings in the office space behind the shop.

This local cheesemonger stocks 140 different types of cheese, two-thirds of which are British.

“Christmas is our busiest time of year. Without Christmas we wouldn’t survive,” Ali explained. “People start putting their Christmas orders in, in September.”

Cheese Etc. will be stocking a number of popular, specialist lines for the festive season, including Barkham Blue from Two Hoots, Reading, Vacherin Cheese, which is only produced between September and March, and truffle cheeses.

They also sell a variety of complementary items, such as Newbury gin, ciders, beer, crackers, cold meats and condiments.
For that extra special gift for the festive season why not put together a personalised hamper, with favourite cheese, crackers and chutneys?

Cheese Etc. also runs an occasional pop-up shop at Mrs B’s Café, Faraday Road, and provides a free delivery service in the Newbury and Pangbourne area.

The earlier you order your cheese or your hampers the better, as last year, despite ordering 15 per cent more stock, they sold out.

“We can never order enough of the local cheeses,” says Ali. “They are incredibly popular and once all the orders have come in, Jen and I are often up until three in the morning packing and checking all the cheese orders, ready for delivery, as well as dealing with the increased custom in the shop itself.

Cheese Etc. will be shutting for Christmas at 2pm on Christmas Eve, up to then it will be all systems go.

Cheese Etc. 17 Reading Road, Pangbourne – 0118 984 3323 - www.cheese-etc.co.uk

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