Finn, strange name for a cheese? Could be, but I found it at Paxton and Whitfield, nicely wrapped. Unknown for me as it was, I could of course not resist it. I was allowed a taste, which applied to all the cheeses I shopped there. As it is, Finn is a small English cheese in a Camembert tradition. In short that means; cow’s milk, bloomy rind. Raw milk of course.
Finn from Neal’s Yard Creamery
For some of us Neal’s Yard is an institution when it comes to British cheese. They have acted as kind of midwifery for may a cheese and small scale dairy alike. In addition to their wholesale and retail activity they do a lot of consulting for the small scale dairies, and perhaps a few somewhat bigger as well. France has their Mons and other affineurs that probably do the same thing and in the US Jasper Hill has taken on that role in their part of the country. I think this is an important task for innovation and to make small scale cheese making prosper.
But as it is, Neal’s Yard Creamery is different from Neal’s Yard Dairy. They started up at the same location to supply the whole sale business with yoghurt and fresh cheese. Charlie Westhead was employed by Neal’s Yard dairy when they started. The co-location turned out rather unpractical, not necessarily the co-location as such, more running a dairy in central London. So in 1996 they moved out into the countryside. To Dorstone in Herefordshire. In spite the name, they are, and always have been separate businesses.
Yoghurt, Finn and goat milk cheeses
They make more Goat’s milk cheeses than cow’s milk cheeses at Neal’s Yard Creamery, but all the goat milk is pasteurized. Our cheese, Finn, is the only cow’s milk cheese they make and it is from raw milk. “Our lovely cow’s milk” as Charlie says, comes from Lower Hunt House farm in Walterstone, some 16 miles away, right on the Welsh border. The yoghurt they make is a Greek style, by the way, and then they also make fine Crème Fraîche. You may get all these products from Neal’s Yard Dairy and other cheesemongers in London and elsewhere. Just click the “Where to buy” on their web-site.
Finn has a fine bloomy rind. The paste is more creamy than a trditional Camembert. This is probably due to the adding of cream, making the cheese richer. Matured for two to three weeks and as a young cheese the flavour is lactic and creamy. With some more age you will find forest floor and nuts.
Why so few British Cheeses in Norway?
Turning a bit local, this cheese is unfortunately not available in Norway, where I reside. I wonder why there are so few British cheeses on offer in this country. Well, you can find some of the traditional cheeses, the so-called territorials, not saying the Norwegian market is flooded, far from it. But there are so many new, excellent, interesting cheeses we never see this side of the North Sea. That’s a pity.
On the other hand, if you’re in London or elsewhere in Britain, there’s always a cheesemonger around with a fine selection of local cheese. And another good thing, most Norwegians are comfortable with English. Speaking the language makes it less scary. And remember, look out for Finn, excellent cheese with a catchy name.
Such a wonderful cheese requires wonderful accompaniment. There is a fine selection of English bubbles. Try Nyetimber Classic Cuvée or the vintage Gusbourne Brut Reserve.