17 Mar 2015

Top five new wave cheeses for 2015

The British cheese scene is an exciting place at the moment with a new generation of producers coming up with some fantastic new cheeses, which often draw on classics such as Brie and Stilton but have their own unique characteristics. 

It really reminds me of what happened with craft beer a few years ago with people paying respect to traditional ways of doing things but also pushing boundaries and going in interesting new directions. Maybe we need a new name for the trend: New wave cheese? Craft cheese? Real cheese?  

Any road, here are my top five to try this year.

6 Mar 2015

Cheese of the Week: Anster

Named after the nearby fishing village of Anstruther in Fife (which locals call Anster), this relative newcomer is a Cheshire-style cheese made by the St.Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company with raw milk and traditional rennet. Low milk prices prompted Jane Stewart to start making the cheese six years ago, using raw milk from her husband Robert’s herd of Holstein Friesian cows.

It has a natural grey rind (no bandages or butter) and is matured for three months. Similar to Cheshire or Wensleydale, but with its own unique character, Anster has a crumbly, open texture and a fresh, milky flavour with lemony notes. I also detected a satisfying savoury finish to the cheese that was mushroomy and almost meaty (I suspect that came from the rind.)

3 Mar 2015

Top five crazy Continentals

Cheddar and Camemebert are all well and good, but sometimes only a cheese matured in a sheep's stomach will do (in Bosnia anyway). Here are my top five weird and wonderful European cheeses.

Bitto
Italy
Made only during the summer in small stone refuges (called calécc) by herdsmen high up in the Alpine mountains of Lombardy, Bitto can be aged for longer than any other cheese. Some wheels are left to mature for 10 years, developing intense, nutty flavours and a crumbly texture. It's made with cow's milk and around 10-20% goat's milk, which some say is the secret to Bitto's amazing ageing abilities. The cheese is in short supply with only a handful of producers still making it in the traditional way.

30 Dec 2014

Elbow deep in curds at the School of Artisan Food

Hair nets à go-go: making a lactic cheese
We've barely had time to pull on our wellies and natty blue hair nets at the School of Artisan Food's cheesemaking course, before tutor Paul Thomas has us emptying a churn of raw milk into a shiny steel vat.

The milk is still warm from the cows that roam the Welbeck Estate in Nottingham, where the school is based (it's also the home of top blue cheese Stichelton), so we quickly add starter cultures to kick start the cheesemaking process. 

10 Oct 2014

Flavoured cheese: anyone for Thai curry cheddar?

Earlier this year Waitrose ran a clever social media competition encouraging shoppers to come up with new ideas for flavoured cheeses, which the public then voted for online. 

The final shortlist included three cheeses: Raspberry & Pink Peppercorn Wensleydale, Carrot Cake Wensleydale and Beetroot and Horseradish Cheddar. The one that got the most votes would then be listed in Waitrose stores.