Autumn is a time of year that I love. What could be better than getting wrapped up warmly and heading out in the October sunshine for a long family stroll? Walking is an activity that fortunately doesn't cost the earth, and means you can afford to indulge yourself with some quality cheese.
I am also a great believer that you should always change your cheeseboard to match the time of year. Fine cheese is a seasonal product, meaning it is made or matured to the pinnacle of perfection at specific points of the year. In the Autumn season, there is a range of cheeses at the height of their flavour complexity, just waiting to be enjoyed by cheese lovers. So with that in mind, here is my selection of seven delicious cheeses that you should be enjoying right now.
1. Baron Bigod
This cheese is handmade in small batches at Fen Farm Dairy in Suffolk. It is made very early in the morning using cow’s milk which is still warm, straight from the free-ranging Montbeliarde cows. It is a traditional Brie style cheese produced by the Crickmore family on their farm. Underneath its bloomy rind you’ll discover a silky smooth, rich paste with a creamy, mushroomy and long-lasting flavour that oozes delightfully.
As the name suggests, it is a ewe’s milk cheese, handmade by Peter Humphreys and team at White Lake Dairy, on Bagborough Farm in Shepton Mallet, Somerset. It has a striking orange rind and is suitable for vegetarians. It is wonderfully smooth and pleasantly rich on the palate, with a taste of sweet, nutty and caramel notes, which makes it a true crowd pleaser.
3. Wyfe of Bath
This elegant award-winning cheese is Bath’s answer to Dutch Gouda. It is an artisan cheese made at Park Farm, Kelston, using milk from their mainly Holstein Friesian cows which graze on certified organic grassland. Suitable for vegetarians, it has a deep-golden colour and a rich and nutty flavour with a pleasant buttery aftertaste.
4. Biggar Blue
Errington Cheese is one of the foremost farmhouse cheesemakers in Britain; the famous Lanarkshire cheesemakers use raw goats' milk to make a cheese in the style of Roquefort. It has moderate creaminess and bite but the flavour is certainly full of nuance. Behind its salty notes you'll discover nutty sweetness and richness.
Autumn is an ideal season for fondue and baked cheeses, so here is a selection of three which I know will melt your heart.
This cheese is a seasonal delicacy which is highly sought-after by cheese connoisseurs (available only September to March). This raw cow's milk cheese comes packed in a wooden box, which is wrapped by a strip of spruce bark and gives the cheese its incredible flavour. I would describe it as gooey, sprucey and heart-warming. The texture is silky and wonderfully rich on the palate, but the cheese shines when baked, which elevates it to another level of deliciousness. It is always a joy when Vacherin Mont d’Or is back out on the shelves.
This is one of the essential ingredients of the classic Swiss fondue. Today it is made by only a handful of artisan cheesemakers and the effort that goes into making a genuine Vacherin Fribourgeois means that it is becoming increasingly rare.
The aroma and flavour are very memorable, the paste has a deep cream colour and is very smooth. The flavour is intense and full of sweet milky hints with underlying nutty and even chocolate-y notes.
Raclette is a traditional washed-rind French cheese and has always been part of a very simple Alpine cheesemakers' diet. This helped keep them warm in Autumn and Winter because its flavour truly comes into its own when melted. It is made with cows' milk and washed with a brine during maturation. It is creamy, meaty and pleasantly pungent.
My suggestion would be to serve the first four cheeses; Baron Bigod, Sheep Rustler, Wyfe of Bath, Biggar Blue, together as a selection on your Autumn (all-British) cheeseboard. The final three - Vacherin Mont d'Or, Vacherin Fribourgeois and Raclette - can also be enjoyed as part of a cheeseboard, but they will absolutely shine when they are melted.
So why not pop into The Cheese Lady shop in Haddington after your bracing walk, or shop online, from the comfort of your own home to reward yourself with some wonderful Autumnal artisan cheeses.
The Cheese Lady x
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