Appleby’s Cheshire

During my student days in Manchester I built a close relationship to british cheese. Probably not Appleby’s Cheshire, though. Mostly the industrial melt on a sandwich types, Cheshire included, but not Appleby’s. From that student perspective I brought with me the impression that british cheese is rather one dimensional. Semi firm, crumbly, with or without annatto. Well, the annatto thing I have learnt later. So wrong can I be. Britain is a cheese paradise and very diversified.

Time to visit?

It’s a shame I have not been there for years even though it is just a short flight from Oslo. Well, not quite correct, I «frequently» travel to Lerwick, Shetland, but not much time for cheese on these travels, and not that the Lerwick Tesco has that much to offer other than the very traditional. But still, I always bring home some cheese from this Tesco. If for nothing else; nostalgia. These Lerwick trips are also rather hectic and neither the Sumburgh nor Aberdeen airports are showcases for local produce.

No, what I mean is e.g. a week traveling around sampling cheese and taking in the British atmosphere and countryside in general. Pub grub and a pint of good bitter. Well, it will come.

Cheese with a history

So let’s turn to cheese and what is more natural than hitting off with the oldest there is on the isles, Appleby’s Cheshire. Cow’s milk cheese. Unpasteurized and English. Cheshire is a cheese from the county of Cheshire in the north west of England. At least originally. Bordering Greater Manchester and Merseyside if you’re anything into soccer. And Shropshire. And thats’s actually the county where the Appleby’s Cheshire is made. Near Hawkstone. In other words; a Cheshire from Shropshire. Artisan cheese from the Appleby family at the Abbey farm by the river Dee. The very last true Cheshire cheese, clothbound, unpasteurized and made by enthusiasts.

Domesday Book

This is a cheese with a history. Generally accepted as Britain’s oldest, back to Roman times, and mentioned in the Domesday Book from 1086. This Survey ordered by the King William the Conqueror. Well documented in other words. And just to really rub it in, the Appleby’s Cheshire was found in any city and town of any importance mid 1700, brought around via all the canals running through the English countryside. They knew their logistics at that time as well. And even more, the Cheese of Choice on board Admiral Nelson’s ship The Victory. Appleby’s Cheshire has won wars!

The Cheese

So what kind off cheese is it, and why this post about a cheese most people probably haven’t heard of? Well, the latter is a good enough reason in itself. More people should become aware of this cheese. If you’ve had British cheese you have probably had Cheshire. The industrial type I bet. Ixt is my personal impression that this style of british cheese has a very pronounced acidity. Not so with the Appleby’s Cheshire. And that is how it was made originally, mind you.

A semi firm cheese with a flaky and crumbly texture. Made with vegetable rennet. Comes in cylinders and the color is what I would call salmon pink due to the addition of moderate amounts of annatto. Mild, but develops more taste with age. Fantastic with ripe fresh figs or marmalade, even dates. Good on its own, as part of a ploughman’s of course. It also melts well, so it’s excellent for cooking and of course on toast.

If you are more into French cheese, it may well remind you of Cantal or even Salers. It is not unlikely the crusaders brought the Cheshire recipe to Auvergne (and even Spain) on their travels (to put it that way).

I do not know much about the distribution other than Neal’s Yard has taken it under its wings. That’s a sign of quality, by the way. So if in London, that’s a place to look for it. Further I expect any decent cheese shop sells it.

To drink

I think one of the ultimate pairings is an Appleby’s Cheshire and a mild malt whisky. Avoid the smoky ones.

Appleby’s Cheshire

Kumelksost. Upasteurisert og engelsk. Det var vel ingen bombe akkurat. Cheshire er altså en (i utgangspunktet) ost fra grevskapet Cheshire i nordvest-England. Grensende bl.a. til Greater Manchester og Merseyside for fotballentusiaster. Et annet grevskap som grenser til Cheshire er Shropshire, og det er faktisk her Appleby’s Cheshire lages. I en landsby som heter Weston-under-Redcastle; så malende!! Med andre ord: en Cheshire fra Shropshire. Håndlaget av familien Appleby på gården Abbey som ligger ganske så vakkert ved elven Dee. Den siste ekte Cheshire, eneste upasteuriserte, laget av entusiaster. Så vidt jeg vet tilvirkes ikke osten i Cheshire lenger i det hele tatt.

Dette er en ost med historie. Det er nemlig aminnelig antatt at Cheshire er Storbritannias eldste ost. Helt tilbake til romertiden og nevnt i the Domesday Book, dommedagsboken altså, som er nedtegningen av den store folke- og boligtellingen som ble foretatt i England i 1086 etter ordre fra Vilhelm Erobreren.
Godt dokumentert med andre ord.

For skikkelig å gni historien inn når vi først er i gang så kunne de distribusjon i gamle dager (også), denne osten var nemlig å finne i enhver by av noe størrelse på midten av 1700-tallet. Fraktet enten på veien eller det sinnrike kanalsystemet som går gjennom hele England. Dessuten the Cheese of Choice ombord i Admiral Nelson’s skip The Victory. Så denne osten har vunnet kriger.

Hva slags ost er dette og hva er foranledningen til denne posten om en ost de færreste har hørt om. Da jeg spiste min Cheshire som ostetoast hadde jeg ingen kunnskap om dens famøse historien. Men god var den. Det som er å si om denne er at den er mindre syrlig i smaken enn det jeg husker Cheshire til å være.

Dette er en hard ost, først og fremst. Den er sylinderformet og lakserosa i fargen. Det har med et fargestoff de tradisjonelt har tilsatt; annatto heter det. For de av dere som er mer Frankofile en Anglofile uti osteverdnen, så kan den minne om Cantal, og minner den om Cantal så kan den likesågodt minne om Salers. Det er faktisk ikke urimelig å anta at i løpet av korsfarertiden har Cheshireoppskriften funnet veien til Auvergne i Frankrike (hvor Cantal og Salers tilvirkes) og Spania også.

Mild smak og en lett smuldrete ost, men utvikler mer smak ved lagring da også en del urtearomaer kommer frem. Fantastisk med ferske fiken, aller helst fikensyltetøy, eller dadler.

Er det muliug å få den i Norge da? Cheshire burde være mulig, i hvert fall Appleby’s.

Å drikke til? Nå kommer vi til den virkelige grunnen til at Appleby’s Cheshire ble dagens tema. Den egner seg godt til maltwhisky. Det var Vinbladet som kom i postkassen i dag som skrev om maltwhisky og deriblant kombinasjonen maltwhisky og ost. Cheshire var ikke nevnt der, den kombinasjonen fant jeg ut av etterpå, men har du en Cheshire og en god men mild matwhisky, ja da kan du ikke be om mer.

Vel bekomme.