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A delicatessen like no other, the Big Cheese is located in St. Andrew's Lane in the city center of Dublin, Ireland.

The Cheese's mission in life seems to be to provide students and expats with familiar comfort foods - which means that alongside truly excellent cheeses from all over Europe, first grade olive oil and their own freshly baked bread (yum, yum and double yum) they also stock things like Aunt Gemima's pancake mix, marshmallow fluff, Hershey's, Reece's etc. for the benefit American students.

There are many more items specifically targeting people from various parts of the world (Vegemite, for example, and the distinctly odd choice of supermarket-grade buffalo mozzarella), but the most rapidly expanding sub-culture represented at the Cheese recently has been the kosher/Jewish culinary niche. What's disconcerting is that, obviously not being Israeli, the owners of the shop are not too conversant with Israeli brands and products, and consistently purvey the lowest of low quality stuff - from truly horrible coffee to shelves upon shelves of completely unnecessary matza bread which no one is ever going to buy.

I, of course, am highly displeased at this development, seeing as if I wanted to eat bad kosher food I wouldn't have left Israel in the first place. Regardless of my quibbling, however, The Big Cheese Company is still an excellent place to visit and pick up imported foodstuffs which are exotic in their ordinariness.

Lest we forget, it should be noted that the Big Cheese is an emporium not entirely uncontaminated by cheese. Although more than half the shop is now given over to imported, freshly baked or speciality foods, the Big Cheese fulfils its original remit as purveyors of cheese-stuffs admirably. The range is perhaps not as extensive as it once was, but this is still the place to go to track down some of the finest cheeses from home and abroad. The heady scent of dozens of cheese flavours intermingling hits you as soon as you enter the spacious premises, so those who like their cheese bland should probably stay outside.

If you do have the good fortune to visit this shop, I recommend you immediately grab a generous wedge of a ludicrously mature and crumbly cheddar from West Combe Dairies, and a small wheel of the subtle but devastating Durrus. After that, ask for samples of the other delights on offer, and you should soon have the makings of a first class cheese board.

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