Share a love of cheese at Mellis

If you like cheese, you must visit Edinburgh. The city's IJ Mellis is one of the best cheesemonger in world. The business has three stores dotted around Edinburgh. In each of them you will find a selection of the best hand-made cheeses from Scotland and abroad.

When pregnant, I could not bear to wander past our local IJ Mellis cheese shop. The smell of cheese knocked me out. Nowadays, I rather enjoy the olfactory blast of Stilton that fills Bakers Place in Stockbridge.


Stilton the size of a barrel

Some days, you can see Stilton cheeses the size of barrels perched outside the shop. They might be best saved for special occasions Each of them costs £100.

One of the most popular Mellis cheeses, (you will find it on the menu in many Edinburgh restaurants), it is Isle of Mull cheddar. The milk comes from Friesian cows who feed on spent barley from the whisky making process. It's made by hand on a farm near Tobermory.


Cheese rolled in charcoal

The distinctive-looking Selles Sur Cher is another favourite. It's a goat's milk cheese formed into a small flat disc and dusted with charcoal. The taste of raw coal is actually rather pleasant, despite what you might expect. And I speak here from personal experience. Sadly, the cheese is unpasteurised. Ruling it out for anyone pregnant.

Scotland has enjoyed a resurgence in cheese making. Traditionally a short production season limited the variety of cheeses that could be made as they had to survive long storage, says the firm. Nowadays, modern techniques have enabled a range of new cheeses including bries and creamy blues. You will find many of these cheese in Mellis stores.


Locals love it

If you happened to be in Edinburgh over New Year, you might have noticed long queues outside the shops. Residents like to stock up at Mellis before a party. There are stores in Morningside, Stockbridge and Victoria Street.

Anecdotal evidence suggests some people visit Edinburgh only for the Mellis cheese shops.


Sensory experience

Not surprising, when you consider that visiting a Mellis shop is quite an experience. It's an assault (pleasurable) on your senses, with the extreme cold, strong smell of cheese and sight of so many gourmet delights.

Air conditioning keeps the stores at refrigerator temperature. That way the shops are cold enough for the cheeses to sit out on the counters, open to inspection.

If you ask, staff will cut off slivers of cheese for you to taste. But beware. Most of the cheeses are so delicious you will find it hard to resist purchasing them, once tasted.