Cheddar, oh yes. Cow’s milk cheese from Britain. 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 Farmhouse Cheddar 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 Britain 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. Cheddar is off-white to yellow in color. Quite compact and crumbly. This is a cheese for storing, sometimes up to two years. Some of the develop a little bit of blueing along the maturing way, nothing to worry about. Simply pick and choose the style you want. 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 tannin and then the options are wide. But remember; if you serve other cheeses too, they might most likely be more sensible to red wine. Port would also work very well, as will Champagne. Cheddar is a common ingredient in a Ploughman’s and then it’s pint of Bitter or nothing for me.
Keens Farmhouse Cheddar
Keen’s cheddar has a tight, rich and creamy texture. Tastes good with hints towards mustard. The Keen familiy has been making cheddar at the farm Moorhayes Farm in Wincanton, Somerset since 1898.
It’s the fourth generation running the operations today and the art of cheese making has been taught the next generation consecutively. Belongs to West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers and has a PDO protection. The cheese is clothbound and matured for 16 to 18 months.
Montgomery’s also belongs to West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers and is made at Manor Farm in North Cadbury, Somerset. This cheese is somewhat special because the taste varies quite a lot through the year. The reason is the use a different starter culture every day. Fries textures than the other British cheddars, and has even considering the variations, a fantastic taste. Clothbound this one as well and matured between 16 and 18 months.
Traditional Somerset cheddar with a rich and sweet taste making it easy to like. Like most cheddars it is clothbound. Matured for a shorter period that the two above; from 12 to 14 months. Fine texture making it sort of “al dente”.
This is a Scottish cheddar. Farm cheese made from heir own milk provided by a herd of Ayrshire cows. For the literates it could be interesting to know that this cheese is made close by where Robert Burns’ mother made her cheeses. She made cheese in other words. Long flavour with a lot of body. Complex taste with spicy tones. Texture is creamy and crumbly at the same time.
A Welsh cheddar from raw, organic cow’s milk. Made at the farm Bwlchwernen Fawr in Ceredigion from milk provided by 75 Ayrshire cows. The farm is run by the Holden family. A fine cheddar that gives you a taste of butter and nuts. Two sizes; sylinders at 10 and 18 kilos, respectively. Matured for 16 months and develops a natural rind along the way. Clothbound.
Å drikke til: A Bordeaux, Claret. Alternatively a Malbec from Cahors or Argentine. But remember, if you serve other cheeses as well, they may fall through paired with such potent wines. A Tawny will also pair well.
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. Raw cow’s milk this.
To drink: Beer I would say. Real ale. Bitter. Or Whisky, single malt without too much smoke flavour, with a dash of water in it.
A brand new cheddar currently made only in very small batches from the makers of Gorwydd Caerphilly. A traditional clothbound cheddar, proper, old-fashioned, full-bodied with a dense, creamy texture and an acidic, juicy bite. A fine cheddar. Made in Somerset, just outside the town of Cheddar. Caerphilly is originally a Welsh cheese, but as they moved their dairy to Somerset in 2014 they felt obliged to make a traditional cheddar as well.
To drink: The best pint of Bitter you can get. Bitter is my favourite whenever I visit the isles.
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 whisky without too much smoked flavor?
Originally a cheese from Wales, but today also produced in Avon and Somerset, England. Usually a raw milk cheese, 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.
Very traditional English cheese made of raw milk from Gloucester cows, at least as much as possible of the milk. Rich, round taste. Double Gloucester has a long history that can be raced back to about year 800. Silky texture, even though this is a firm and a little crumbly cheese. Nuts. Some annatto added, so the cheese is more yellow than normal for a cow’s milk cheese. Important the cheese is farmhouse, so look for that. This is the cheese that is used for the annual down hill cheese wheel rolling competition the second Bank Holiday Monday in may every year. Venue is Coopers Hill, Gloucestershire.
To drink: Try a dry, still cider.
So what’s the difference between a Single and a Double Gloucester? Double is made of whole milk, while the Single is made from a blend of skimmed milk from the evening milking and whole milk from the morning milking. Single Gloucester is a protected cheese through its PDO, which it has had since 1977. This means it has to be made in Gloucestershire with as much milk as possible from Gloucester cows. As with Double Gloucester this is an old cheese with a known history back to about year 800. Taste is fine with a bit of acidity. Texture is somewhat crumbly, but no too bad. Wonderful cheese on a toast which really brings forward to acidity.
Som med Double Gloucester er dette en gammel ost som kan skrive sin historie tilbake til 800-tallet. Fin jevn smak og en konsistens som ikke smuldrer så lett. En flott toasteost for øvrig.
Å drikke til: What about a Poire William or the equivalent.
The only farm made Lancashire made of raw milk. This is an operation run by the Kirkham family on their farm Beesley Farm, just outside Goosnargh Village, Lancashire. North west this. Made seven days a week, using milk from their own herd of Holstein-Friesian cows. Two sizes, wheel of 10 kilo and 20 kilo, respctively. Some is sold rather young and has clear butter and milk tones. Otherwise it is matured up to 12 months and more complex flavours are developed. A firm cheese, crumbly. Making Lancashire takes a while as the milk acidifies over-night with a minimum of starter culture. The micro flora of the milk and the cheese making room will ensure the rest.
Å drikke til: A cheese from Lancashire cries fro a local real ale Bitter, Boddington’s for instance. A mature Mersault also pairs extremely well.
Sparkenhoe Red Leicester
Sparkehoe farm ligger ved Upton i den sørvestøige delen av Leicestershire, midt mellom Leicester og Birmingham. Drives av David og Jo Clarke. Dette er et gårdsysteri, men har fått et eget navn, Leicestershire Handmade Cheese Company. Melken de bruker til osten, og de andre variantene de yster, kommer fra 150 kyr av rasen Holstein-Friesian. Fast ost med søt og nøttete smak, samt en touch av sitrus. Osten modnes i seks måneder på hyller av bøk, men enkelte grossister modner den lengre og Neal’s yard dairy har blant annet en Vintage-variant. Osten er rødoransj i fargen på grunn av at den tilsettes annatto. Osten formes i hjul, eller møllesteiner som de kaller det selv, på henholdsvis 10 og 20 kilo. Skorpen er hard og naturlig og har ofte et ganske så fint fargespill.
Å drikke til: En Rioja Reserva av god kvalitet.
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
Whin Yeats Wensleydale
The only Wensleydale I know of that is made with raw milk. Farmhouse cheese from the Whin Yeats farm in Cumbria. Locally it is sold under the name “Fellstone”. matured from only a few weeks to many months, so here you have quite a range. Texture is from waxy for the young ones to crumbly for the aged. Flavour is from milk and yoghurt as young to considerably more complex as it ages with a clear appearance of umami.
To drink: Real ale.
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, based on a traditional recipe. 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. All milk used for making cheese come from their own herd.
To drink: Classic port, preferably vintage, or a well stored Tawny. If you are (malt) whisky fan; try Talisker 10 years old. M
Sparkenhoe Shropshire Blue
Shropshire Blue is a well known cheese in Britain, but all I have tasted so far has been pasteurized. Sparkenhoe is doing a variety based on their own raw milk from Holstein-Friesian cows. Red to orange because of the annatto they add.
To drink: Tawny.