With recent supply challenges disrupting the British food industry, it is more important than ever for us as consumers to embrace home-grown cheese producers. When it comes to fine cheese, we are definitely in luck and are spoilt for choice here in the UK. British farmhouse and artisan cheese making has made huge strides in recent decades, particularly in the last few years. The traditional cheesemaking scene in the UK is exciting, ever-growing and full of high-quality products. But which ones should you try first? Here are my top 5 recommendations:
- Baron Bigod: A true gem of modern British farmhouse cheesemaking! This raw cow’s milk cheese comes from the Fen Farm Dairy in Suffolk, where their own herd of Montbeliarde cows happily graze outdoors for most of the year. Underneath its bloomy rind you’ll discover a silky smooth, rich paste with a creamy, mushroomy and long-lasting In essence, Baron Bigod is a brie-style cheese just as amazing as its French counterpart! Enjoy it with a crusty baguette and a glass of rosé or a light-bodied red.
- Rollright: Made by one of the most exciting artisan cheesemakers in the country today, Rollright is inspired by the soft, washed rind cheeses from the French and Swiss Alpine regions. Made from pasteurised cow’s milk, it is gorgeously rich and creamy. The outside of the cheese is washed repeatedly during maturation and the whole round is bound with spruce bark, meaning that the resulting flavour inside is soothingly nutty and piney. Savour it with an elegant red wine or craft ale.
- Rachel: From the White Lake Cheese Co. comes this semi-firm goat's cheese with a washed rind. Rachel is made using the gouda recipe; during the cheese-making process, the acidity of the milk is lowered by removing some of its whey and replacing it with water. The resulting taste is elegant and mellow with a lingering, delicate, nutty flavour and slight citrussy zing. Enjoy this beautiful and elegant cheese with a light-bodied red, white or rosé wine.
- Corra Linn: One of the most sought-after Scottish farmhouse cheeses today, Corra Linn is a firm cheddar-like cheese made from the raw milk of Lacaune sheep by Selina Cairns and her team at Errington Cheese. Matured for a minimum of 12 months, Corra Linn is crumbly in texture with pleasant nutty, lingering flavour notes, plus slight lanolin notes in the background. Enjoy this stunning and complex cheese with medium-bodied red wines or craft ales.
- Stichelton: Nineteen eighty-nine was a tragic year for British cheesemaking. It was the year when the last producer of raw milk Stilton – Colston Bassett – decided that their cheese would be made using exclusively pasteurised milk. Shortly thereafter, the requirement to make Stilton only from pasteurised milk became enshrined in law, thus wiping out the most authentic variety of Stilton that for centuries prior had been made with raw milk. But in 2005, Randolph Hodgson - the founder of Neal’s Yard Dairy in London - and Joe Schneider - an American cheesemaker - decided to revive the original Stilton. This meant that Stichelton was born! Made only from raw milk with traditional rennet, this outstanding blue cheese has a long complex flavour; toasty, malty, and milky sweet, with a buttery, creamy texture. The raw cow's milk creates a taste complexity that builds and lasts! The best examples are made in the summer, when cows graze on grass, with the cheese matured in time for Christmas. The best accompaniment for Stichelton is, naturally, your best vintage Port.
Thank you for reading & supporting traditional cheesemaking in the UK. I hope you enjoy discovering and savouring new and exciting British cheeses this year and for many years to come!
The Cheese Lady x
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