The Brits are really known for their Cheddar and Stilton. But there is so much more to indulge into.
Alex James No. 5 Goddess Guernsey Milk Cheese
Fantastic little semi-solid to soft washed rind cheese made of unpasteurized Guernsey milk. The latter is a point since it makes the paste very yellow. The washed rind in this case means it has been washed with Temperley Somerset Cider Brandy. One portion cheese, well perhaps two of approximately 200 grams. Surprisingly mild in flavor for this type of cheese, gentle and ingratiating with fine taste of milk. If you are not familiar with washed rind cheeses, this is a great place to start. The downside is that it probably is not available other than in Britain.
To drink: A washed rind cheese may well be paired with red wine. So with this one as well, but since the cheese is mild the wine should be soft. A fresh red with lots of fruit will also work well,so a Beaujolais or red Loire would probably work nicely here. Do you go for white, I would recommend a wine from the Chardonnay grape. This is an English cheese so it fits naturally with an excellent cup of tea.
Originally a cheese from Wales, but today also produced in Avon and Somerset, England. Usually unpasteurized, but not necessarily. Look for Duckett’s or Gorwydd. Firm cheese that was originally invented for the miners in South Wales so they could get enough salt after long days in the mines. For all practical purposes the English variety turned quite like Cheddar especially during WWII, but has now come back to the original. Easy yellowish rind slightly crumbling and with a white and creamier core. Strong acidic scent and taste of milk. No long-term storage project. The rind is hard with no mold growth. Cut away. Good for melting but also performs very well as it is, often combined with a little Chèvre and Comté.
To drink: German Riesling or Chablis that has been stored for some time at least.
Cheddar, oh yes. Cow’s milk cheese from Somerset, England. Where it all started in the 1600s. True enough, there are many copies made anywhere in the world. But only cheese produced on farms belonging to the West Country Group of the Somerset has PDO protection from the EU. Are you in London or elsewhere in the UK then look up a cheese shop and purchase a Cheddar from the West Country Group. However, you need not travel so far, they are available outside of England as well. It is Farmhouse cheese as it is called there, similar to fermier in France. Something completely different from the industrial versions you get vacuum packed in the store. Look for Keen’s Farmhouse Cheddar or Montgomery’s Cheddar, they are both unpasteurized. Cheddar is off-white to yellow in color. Quite compact and crumbly. This is a cheese for storing, sometimes up to two years. Then simply pick and choose. Tend to have a scent of grass, while the taste can often be nutty with a fruity flair. Cheddar is also a great cheese for cooking.
To drink: You can very well turn to a good Bordeaux. This cheese can tolerate tannins and then the options are wide. But remember that if you serve other cheeses too they might most likely be more sensible to red wine, Port wine would also work very well, as will Champagne.
Appleby’s Cheshire. From Whitchurch in the county of Shropshire. Amazingly lush and beautiful area. A bit south of Manchester. Just outside of Stoke. Cheshire is probably Britain’s oldest cheese. Hailing from somewhere around Roman times. As you know, this was an occupied country, the Romans did not stop until they reached the Hadrian wall just north of Newcastle. Enough of that. A very well-made and traditional Cheshire coming from Appleby’s. That’s my favorite. Made of unpasteurized cow’s milk. Rich and slightly spicy flavor that lasts long in the mouth. It is handmade and wrapped in cloth (cloth bound). The addition of moderate amounts of annatto gives it a sort of salmon pink color. In particular, this cheese is not made with animal rennet but with vegetable rennet.
To drink: How about a light single malt without too much smoked flavor?
Isle of Mull
A Scottish firm cheese, Cheddar style, from Isle of Mull, specifically Tobermory. As far north-west on the island as you can get, at the mouth of the Sound of Mull, where the road ends. A family that originally moved up from Somerset to farm and make cheese. Pretty tough conditions this, so even if the climate is mild the cows graze outside during the summer months only. The rest of the year they live on silage(!) and mask from whisky production. The housewife making cheese has learned the trade in Somerset, but they do not define this as a cheddar cheese, though most others do. Very pale yellow cheese, slightly sweet milk fragrance. Initially just tasting good, but as you have it in your mouth it turns quite sharp and lasts long. Very tasteful. Matured cheese can develop sort of tiny blue veins. Not anything negative. Unpasteurized cow’s milk this.
To drink: Beer I would say. Real ale. Bitter. Or Whisky, single malt without too much smoke flavor, with a dash of water in it.
English cheese from Lincolnshire. Firm cow’s milk cheese from unpasteurized milk. A cheese between Cheddar and Gruyère providing interesting flavors, including the possibly hint of pineapple. Good for cooking too. Yellowish in color and quite compact, reminiscent of a piece of butter? Not really.
To drink: Beer, real ale, for me that means Bitter.
This is one of the family’s favorite blue cheeses even though it is pasteurized. Contrary to what its name says, it is made in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire and originally from Scotland. Great yellow color comes from adding annatto. the color was probably used to distinguish it from Stilton. Quite similar to Stilton in taste by the way, but it is somewhat fuller and rounder. A very good Christmas alternative.
To drink: A Tawny pairs well here.
Stilton is the UK’s, or more precisely, England’s most famous blue cheese, is AOP protected and can only be produced in the three counties of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire; the area also known as the Midlands. Further it can only be used local milk which (unfortunately) is pasteurized. It has a creamy consistency and actually comes in two flavors, the familiar blue and a much less famous white. The town of Stilton, which has given its name to the cheese lies outside the area where it is allowed to produce it, so Stilton is not from Stilton. The flavor is rich and ripe, creamy and slightly salty. Milder than Roquefort for example. Matured between six and eight weeks, although some manufacturers keeps it longer. Can also be used in salads. AOP (or PDO in English) since 1996.
To drink: Port. Tawny. This is classic and typically British. The more mature cheese the more mature wine. There is always. If you are experimental, try a red Priorat.
An English blue cheese from the Welbeck Estate in Nottinghamshire, that’s in an area where it is allowed to produce Stilton. A relatively new cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. Since it is unpasteurized, it cannot be classified as Stilton. The cheese is handmade with no rush in making it. A cheese with a good and rich taste and buttery texture. It also has a hint of spice that I find reminiscent of dried peas. A great cheese made from a migrated American. Since it is handmade, taste and texture may vary from season to season.
To drink: Classic port, preferably vintage, or a well stored Tawny. If you are (malt) whisky fan; try Talisker 10 years old.
From the village by the same name just outside of Coventry, West Midlands. Ram Hall Farm has made ewe milk cheese since the late 1980s. The farm, however, is from the 1600s. A firm cheese which I think is in a Pyrenees style. Unpasteurized. Grey hard and inedible rind with nice pattern. Mild and nice but quite rich, sweet and as so often with hard cheeses like this, a hint of nuts. Eat it with good slice of bread and a glass of wine or a good cup of tea. Something Ploughmanish about it.
To drink: Mature red and white wines. Certainly Bordeaux for both options. Alternatively, a glass of mild whisky. Also a glass of real ale will work well I think. At least in a British pub.
An artisan cheese from Risely, Berkshire. Made by Anne and Andy Wigmore from unpasteurized Dorset Friesland ewe’s milk using vegetable rennet. Close textured and smooth with rich, nutty, juicy and long-lasting flavors. Originally inspired by Pecorino.
To drink: The cheese being Pecorino style, try a mature red from Tuscany.