It’s a cheesy kind of love
Phil Collins’ love may have been ‘groovy’ in 1990, but this line up is even cheesier and there’s no better time of year to celebrate your dairy desires (and a cheesy play list) than St Valentine’s Day.
There are so many British cheesemaking gems to discover, that the nation’s best cheeseboards are continually and seasonally evolving. Through our contact with producers, distributors and foodservice businesses here are some of the trends and latest offerings being talked about:
The look of love (ABC – 1982)
These three exciting new cheeses will tempt your taste buds:
- Baron Bigod is a genuine British farmhouse Brie, handmade using raw milk from the farm’s Montbeliarde herd in small batches by Jonny and the Fen Farm Dairy team. Authentic, complex, earthy and extraordinary.
- Rollright has a semi-soft, buttery texture and blushing, orange-peach coloured rind and a dusting of white moulds. Every aspect is carefully monitored by hand, from turning to brine-washing - which helps to ripen it to a soft, unctuous and melt in the mouth finish.
- Sheep Rustler hails from the award-winning Somerset cheesemaker, White Lake – famed for their pioneering, innovative spirit. Their latest creation is a semi-hard, rind washed ewes’ milk cheese - aged to around five months to achieve an exceptional clean, nutty flavour.
Ewe to me are everything (The Real Thing – 1976)
As the appearance of Sheep Rustler demonstrates, the fresh, young profile of goats’ and ewes’ milk cheeses are increasingly popular and have the additional benefit of being lower in cholesterol than cows’ milk. The Devon based, traditional clothbound cheesemaker Quicke’s produce a sensational Goats’ Milk Cheese which won Best English Cheese at the British Cheese Awards 2015. It is perfectly pale with a lovely almond quality.
In commercial kitchens Goats’ Curd is an incredibly versatile ingredient that is loved by many leading chefs. Its delicate creaminess adds texture and a subtle tang without being cloying. As health-related, food issues dominate the media – promoting Goats’ and Ewes’ milk products as a healthier alternative makes good sense.
Sharing the love (Rufus and Chaka Khan – 1981)
Owen Davies, Category Manager at the fine food distributor Harvey and Brockless, spoke recently about the ascendance of casual dining; “Introducing sharing plates can add to the customer’s experience and to the operator’s bottom line. One of the key advantages is that sharing boards such as cheese, charcuterie and antipasti are relatively quick to prepare. They can be adapted with seasonal accompaniments, from chutneys and preserves to olives. There is minimal fuss and excellent portion control which minimises wastage. Its uncomplicated food but the flavours really pack a punch. Another benefit is that sharing cheeseboards work well throughout the day. They should be given a real push to the after-work drinks and pre-dinner market. By pairing your offering with specially selected drinks (wine, cider or beer) you add a whole new dimension and increase revenue.”
I can’t help falling in love with blue (Elvis Presley – 1961)
Blue cheese is having a resurgence. Colston Bassett Dairy in Nottinghamshire consistently wins trophies for their Stilton - and its slightly sweeter sibling, Shropshire Blue. Dairy Manager, Billy Kevan excels at creating sublimely smooth and creamy cheese. Unable to keep up with demand in the run up to Christmas, now is a great time to introduce these winners back onto your menu.
If you appreciate the complexity of blue cheese then these British beauties could also be for you:
- Two Hoots Rosethorn has a lovely soft texture
- Cropwell Bishop’s deliciously creamy Beauvale
- Brinkworth Dairies have created the perfectly proportioned 250g truckle Royal Bassett
- Mrs Bell’s Blue from Shepherds Purse is made with ewe’s milk and is milder than a more robust Roquefort
Hot stuff (Donna Summer -1979)
Another great seasonal food for sharing is a piping hot fondue. There are traditional Alpine favourites; Vacherin Mont D'or, Morbier, Raclette and Reblochon - all suited to baking, dipping and sharing. It's also worth considering introducing a Chablis rind-washed cheese or British alternatives such as Tunworth (hailed by Raymond Blanc as 'the best camembert in the world'), others include Winslade or Cornish Kern. As well as being great for sharing with friends, fondue is a simple, romantic solution for a candle lit supper for two. So share the cheesy love!