The Brits are first and foremost known for their Cheddar and Stilton. But there is so much more to indulge into.
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 Bitte
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.