Stylish Weekends | October 17, 2016 | Food
Beyond Cheddar and Stilton:
Celebrating the UK's artisan cheesemakers
Sweets and baking may be the media darlings of the moment but cheese devotees are quietly rounding off their meal in a heyday of British dairy excellence.
The French, of course, used to rule the roost but today British cheesemakers are dominating, with Cornish Blue and Baron Bigod among more than 700 British cheeses winning awards.
Of course, there have always been great British cheeses. Stilton, cheddar, wensleydale and the like are firmly-established names in the dairy hall of fame.
But creative pioneers are building on that tradition and creating award-winning and critically-acclaimed products including Hampshire Cheeses’ camembert-style Tunworth, Errington Cheese’s Scottish manchego-style Corra Linn, Shepherd’s Purse’s Yorkshire Fettle, Ribblesdale Cheese’s goat gouda and Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire.
While British cheeses are selling well over here, the export market has also seen a rapid rise. Spain, USA and even France are now our biggest customers – and growing.
Our British cheese board
Great British cheese calls for great British tableware. Your choice depends on the occasion – and your personal taste.
We’ve put together a few suggestions – and a selection of our favourite cheeses to serve on them.
1. DINNER WITH FRIENDS
Edme collection dates back more than a century – but its sophisticated Georgian shapes are still stylish in a contemporary setting. Arrange bread or oatcakes on the square bread and butter plate and pile your cheese selection onto this understated oval dish.
Beauvale: Award-winning creamery Cropwell Bishop is best known for its traditional Stilton but this newer, gorgonzola-style offering has been much-lauded by blue cheese lovers.
Dorstone: This heavenly and light goat’s cheese, named after its Herefordshire birthplace, is based on a classic French recipe, using Gloucestershire unpasteurised goat’s milk. Creamy with a hint of lemon, the dense mousse-like texture is wrapped in a delicate, wrinkled rind.
Serve with: Isle of Arran oatcakes, baked by hand by Wooley’s on the beautiful isle of Arran. These artisan oaties are just the right side of crisp, coupled with a rich, nutty, aromatic flavour that pairs well with many British cheeses.
2. KITCHEN SUPPER
The informal lines and wooden accessories of Jasper Conran’s Tisbury range lend themselves to a more relaxed style of dining. Serve your selected cheeses on this round chopping board or line generous wedges along the charcuterie board and encourage sharing.
Baron Bigod: Nestling in the heart of Suffolk, Fen Farm Dairy has scored a huge hit with Baron Bigod. A reimagining of the classic, it’s Britain’s only unpasteurised brie-style cheese to be made on the farm in traditional form, ladled only by hand.
Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire: Produced by third-generation cheesemaker Graham, this buttery creation follows a traditional two-day curd method culminating in a melt-in-the-mouth authentic Lancashire cheese. Rich with a hint of sharpness, it’s available from various outlets, including Waitrose and Booths.
Serve with: Add a tangy accent to your cheese board with this Fine Cheese Co. fig chutney, made in Bath. Sweet and fruity, it’s a particularly fine accompaniment to soft cheese.
3. TEA-TIME TREAT
The Edme range’s subtle decoration means it’s equally suitable for less formal dining too. Hunks of sourdough and your favourite cheeses on the rectangular tray create the perfect relaxed tea time.
Stichelton: Marrying a traditional Stilton recipe with unpasteurised milk to create an outstanding British classic, this complex cheese has nutty, sweet tones with a gentle note of blue. Produced on the northern borders of Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, where the milk comes from a 150-strong herd of Friesian-Holstein cows.
Cornish Yarg: Nettle-wrapped Cornish Yarg from Lynher Dairies adds another layer of dark sophistication to your table. Lemony, creamy and crumbly in the core, it’s perfect scooped onto a generous hunk of bread.
Serve with: Rosebud Preserves quince jelly, a must-have cheeseboard accompaniment. This organic, locally-sourced preserve is one of Yorkshire’s finest exports and a firm favourite of Rick Stein and Angela Hartnett.