On a Friday afternoon there are a fair few things that make for a great start to the weekend. For me, eating cheese and drinking wine definitely make the cut. Heading to Brighton Marina Square on a recent Friday, I found myself peering in through the windows of The Great British Charcuterie Co, slightly salivating at the glorious sights before me. A clean, ordered and well-lit space provides the ideal backdrop for some of the area’s best cheeses, cured meats and wines. This is a new favourite of mine already.
A colleague and I were given a guiding light in the form of owner Phil Bartley. Struck by a neat water feature in the middle of the premises, he explains it actually helps humidify the shop and it’s not just for people like us to poke their fingers in. Humidity is an important factor here for the stock to remain (or mature to) as high in quality as possible. We’re told that the majority of the stock in TGBCC is local, from Sussex generally. So, we had a look at some really special pieces. A standout was from Alsop and Walker, hailing from Mayfield. A nutty, Swiss-like cheese, it pairs easily with a range of other products. Another standout for us was another Sussex-based company – The Traditional Cheese Dairy of Wadhurst. A family run company, they wash their cheese in rose water to create the interesting – and frankly delicious – Burwash Rose. A nod to the types of cheese produced in British monasteries centuries ago, it’s made from the raw milk of grass-fed Frisian cows making a semi-soft cheese with a gorgeous aroma. Phil’s nailed the key components of a great charcuterie and has ensured his chutneys, preserves, biscuits and breads match up too. With help from The Fine Cheese Co in Bath, they have a great range of jellies and chutneys to accompany the delicate products, as well as those that pack more of a punch.
North Chailey, East Sussex, is home to Beal’s Farm Charcuterie. They offer wonderful meat from the neck/shoulder of mangalitza pigs (think the wagyu of the pig world). It comes fatty, which effectively holds in so much flavour. On the topic of wagyu, pedigree beef company Highland Wagyu (of Scotland, unsurprisingly) supplies the shop with some of their offerings – their incredible melt-in-your-mouth steaks can be found in Phil’s other ventures: the well-loved Hove Place pub and The Cricketers on Black Lion Street, Brighton. Being a front-runner on the Brighton & Hove culinary scene, Phil’s 18 years of service has amalgamated into this beautiful shop. Introducing a deli board menu to Hove Place kick-started this new project into fruition – and we’re really glad it did. They’ll even be offering a service for customers to hang their own meats in their high-tech dry-ageing fridge, holding precise temperatures and humidity.
New stockists, Calcot Farm, add smoked air-dried hams rubbed in black pepper and paprika to our day’s delicious line-up. Moons Green Charcuterie in Rye offer a hugely popular spicy nduja (and a gentler, more mildly-mannered British nduja), which comes as almost a spreadable chorizo. Phil tells me, “With so many artisan producers in this country we have tried and tested pretty much every cheese, salami and ham there is to try. We obviously lean towards local producers and with such a wide range to choose from we like to go for products unique in design, appearance and taste. We also believe that animal welfare should be the number one consideration when working with new producers, luckily all of our suppliers agree on this.” This is certainly a focus we can get behind.
Incredible wines from local vineyard Ridgeview, the slightly further-afield Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard and Dorking’s Denbies put TGBCC on the map for the whole country, let alone Brighton & Hove. They (at the time of writing) boast 58 different varieties of wine and will be increasing this over the coming months. This upwards trajectory is down to a pure and unadulterated work ethic. Phil tells me, “As a brand new company our main aim is to raise awareness of the fantastic job that our producers do to create the amazing products they supply. We are going to be expanding our range as time goes on and also hoping to develop our online presence to offer the largest range of British charcuterie, cheese and English wines available anywhere in the world, all started from our little shop in Brighton Marina.”
The Great British Charcuterie Co is at Unit 40, Brighton Marina, BN2 5WA