15 Jun 2015

CHEESE OF THE WEEK: Besace Affine

Don't judge a cheese by its cover. This wonky goats' cheese coated in ash is not exactly a looker (my father-in-law described it as 'fish head' cheese) but it was the stand out fromage on my Christmas cheeseboard.

Made by a cooperative in Perigord in the Dordogne, the raw milk cheese is meant to look like a shepherd's sack and the name translates as 'old bag' in colloquial French.

It's an unfortunate moniker that really doesn't do this sweet, innocent cheese justice. Underneath that grey rind is an array of textures and flavours.

There's a wonderful gooey layer close to the surface, which has a gentle goaty kick, while the main paste is brilliant white with a dense fudgy texture and a sweet, buttery and herby flavour.
The paste becomes denser and creamier, almost gummy as it matures and the breakdown under the rind gets even goatier.

You can buy it from the Cheeseboard in Greenwich.

31 May 2015

Barkham Blue wins British Cheese Awards 2015

Barkham Blue was picked from nearly a thousand cheeses entered into this year's British Cheeses Awards to be named supreme champion.

The soft, creamy blue, which is made with Channel Island milk in Berkshire by Sandy and Andy Rose of Two Hoots Cheese, was named Best Blue and then went on to take the overall title at the competition, held at the Royal Bath & West show.

29 May 2015

Kirkham's Lancashire two ways: Classic and Tasty

'What's your favourite cheese' is one of those impossible questions to answer, like 'what's your favourite album?' or 'which is better, crisps or biscuits?' 

But there are some cheeses I go back to again and again. Barkham Blue is one, so is Stawley goats' cheese and I have a deep love for gouda-style Berwick Edge on the rare occasions I can find it. Kirkham's Lancashire is another that I always buy when I can.

Ruth Kirkham first began making Lancashire at Beesley Farm, near Goosenargh, more than 35 years ago, after being taught how to make the cheese by her own mother. Still involved today, the famous Mrs Kirkham has passed on her expertise and the bulk of cheese-making duties to her son Graham, while her husband John still looks after the cows.

15 Apr 2015

Paxton & Whitfield's cheese journal

I'm the sort of person who goes upstairs for something and can't remember what it was until I've walked back down again, so remembering all the different cheeses I've scoffed is a frankly impossible task.

I've got a database on my desktop, which I naturally forget to update, and I scribble things on bits of paper, which I immediately lose.

So I was intrigued to hear that those clever cheesemongers at Paxton & Whitfield had come up with a journal for jotting down cheesey thoughts and musings. Since getting one, I've found it much easier to keep track of what I've eaten, what it tastes like and what I'd drink it with it.

1 Apr 2015

Appleby's Cheshire: the fall & rise of British territorials

In the early 1980s Britain's specialist cheesemakers were hanging on by their fingernails as cheap, industrially produced supermarket products ruled the shelves. It's hard to believe now, but the future of traditionally made territorials from Red Leicester to Lancashire and even farmhouse cheddar were in the balance. 

Cheshire cheese was no different. Before the second world war there were dozens of small farmhouse producers making traditional raw milk, cloth-bound Cheshire, but numbers rapidly dwindled until in the early 80s there was just one left. Appleby's had been set up by Lucy Appleby (the famous Mrs Appleby) and her husband Lance in 1952 at Hawkstone Abbey Farm in North Shropshire and the couple were determined that proper Cheshire cheese shouldn't be lost to the nation.