“I like my funk, a lot of other people don’t,” laughs Emily Hailstones when describing her love of “foostie” ageing cheese.
To Emily, cheese is life as she fondly remembers always having a block of cheese in her lunchbox for her school snack.
Now mature, just like the Hebridean Blue cheese she adores, Emily and her partner Hayley Fisher, are preparing to share their love of cheese, artisan bread, organic wine and cured meats through Olive Alexanders, the delicatessen, bistro and bar they are opening in Aberdeen’s Golden Square.
Unlike anything else in the city, Olive Alexanders will bring a fresh flavour to the café scene with a delicatessen and bistro where people can either sit in or takeaway their individually crafted cheese boards.
Not only that but the basement area of their building has also been transformed into Barbelow, specialising in cocktails, organic wine, small plates and all of the goodies from upstairs in the deli.
“There isn’t anywhere like Olive Alexanders in Aberdeen,” said Emily.
“You would have to travel to Edinburgh to experience somewhere like that.”
With vast experience in the hospitality sector between them – Hayley worked in The Balmoral Hotel while Emily worked as a chef at The Little Chartroom both in Edinburgh – the dynamic duo are putting the final touches on their new venue ahead of Barbelow opening this Saturday closely followed by Olive Alexander’s deli and bistro in mid April/start of May.
Society caught up with Emily to get the lowdown on their exciting new venue.
How did the idea for Olive Alexanders come about?
The idea came about in 2020 when I’d moved back to Aberdeen from Edinburgh and I dragged Hayley back with me.
We thought Aberdeen was lacking so much stuff and with Covid hitting as well, it was like this is another blow to the city. It was at that moment when we were given the opportunity with the premises so we just took the jump and went forward from there.
So we started trading as an online entity in March 2021 and we’ll be opening our physical doors almost a year to the day when we opened online.
What will Olive Alexanders offer?
Our building in Golden Square is set out across four floors so we’re going to be turning the basement area into a cocktail bar called Barbelow which will offer organic wine, cocktails and small plates.
Olive Alexanders will be on the ground floor and that will include a 10-table bistro while the other half of the room is going to be the delicatessen with wine, cheeses and cured meat as well as cook books, wine magazines and nice little jars of stuff.
Barbelow will be opening this Saturday and Olive Alexanders will follow in about a month/month and a half after.
What kind of cheese will Olive Alexanders offer?
To start off with we’ll have about six to 10 cheeses that people can pick from, so you can design your own cheeseboard and cured meat board. Some of the of the cheeses we’ll be getting include Alpine Blossom, a semi soft, nutty cheese that is rolled in wild flowers which adds a really floral taste to the rind, it’s delicious.
The other cheese we’re going to get is Prima Donna Maturo which is produced by an Italian couple who live in the Netherlands.
What they wanted to do was take the flavour of Parmesan blended with gouda. So when you cut into the cheese it’s got the typical holes that gouda cheese has and the typical texture but when you put it in your mouth it’s like parmesan, it’s the weirdest experience I’ve ever had but it’s delicious.
Any other cheese?
We’ll also be getting Clava Brie from Tain, it’s quite a mild brie and its got a lot of funk to it which is absolutely delicious. I’m also a huge fan of Comté so we’re going to get a really aged comte which is going to be very foostie and funky.
I like my funk, a lot of other people don’t. We’re also going to get in Hebridean blue from the Isle of Mull. It’s my favourite blue.
It’s quite a hard crumbly texture and it’s the bluest blue you’ll ever see. I’m not saying that all the cheese will come from the UK, but we would like a lot of our cheese to come from the UK as there’s a lot more cheese from the UK that people don’t realise.
What food will Barbelow offer?
We’ll be offering small plates as well as cheese and cured meat boards. With the small plates, one of the dishes we’ll be doing is a smoked salmon pate with homemade treacle and soda bread with a homemade lemon butter.
We’ll also have our lobster rolls, crudités, tartlets and lots of gorgeous weird and wonderful foods. It’s worth mentioning that the small plates start at £4 so they’re really affordable.
What cured meats will be on the menu?
All of our charcuterie is going to be from the UK. The companies that we’ll be working with have free range cows and pigs. So we’ll have cured meats like salami napoli, capocollo, bresaola – all your classics.
We’re huge fans of Italian and Spanish cured meats too and you can get some really good French ones as well.
Early risers can also pop by for a tasty takeaway breakfast too can’t they?
Yes, we’re getting bespoke made bread from the lovely guys over at Bandit Bakery. We’re also going to try and get local eggs, local bacon and prosciutto.
The menu will change depending on the season. So you’ll get your classic fry up sandwich but you’ll also get a gorgeous Italian style breakfast too.
Wine lovers are in for a treat aren’t they?
Yes, our wines are going to be vegan as well as organic or biodynamic. We’re working with a really cool wine supplier called Element Wines in Edinburgh.
They go around and hand select each wine that they stock, most of them are small time producers. So we’ll have a huge range of wines from whites and reds to oranges and roses.
Hayley is sitting The Wine & Spirit Education Trust exams which is the international governing board for qualifications for wine and liquor education.
When are you opening?
Barbelow is opening on Saturday and Olive Alexanders will follow in mid April/early May.
For more information about Barbelow check out their Instagram@barbelowaberdeen.