In November, Elaine and I had a long-awaited chance to visit with Jesus Pombo Lanza and his wife Yolanda at Poncelet (pronounced Ponthelet) in Madrid. The couple own and operate three very closely inter-connected cheese businesses under the Poncelet name. The original store which opened in 2005, is located at Calle Argensola and sells a carefully chosen selection of cheeses from across Spain together with a healthy representation of some of the best from France, Italy and Portugal. In addition, some years after the store opening, the couple decided to develop their own maturation caves and these are located away from the center of the city in a state of the art facility. There, there are several separate maturing rooms, each with a separate environment particularly suited to the type of cheeses it contains.
I was interested to read the recent listing in the WSJ of their top ten cheese shops. Somewhat surprisingly, every single one is located in Europe, which I can’t help feeling shows remarkable lack of imagination, let alone knowledge of some of the fantastic cheese stores also to be found in the US, many of which have been in operation for well over a decade. (Mental note here to compile a list of my own.)
Although I haven’t been to all the cheese shops in the WSJ (give me time!), I do know a few of them and worked for several years at one of them. So here’s my personal run-down of some of those mentioned. For Poncelet in Madrid, we wrote a piece about their store in the June 2009 issue of culture. You can read the article here http://culturecheesemag.com/poncelet_madrid
L’Amuse - Netherlands