The wealth of information now available about British cheeses and their producers usually makes it pretty easy to research and write about whichever hunk has made it on to the blog. But boy oh boy was this week’s cheese ever a slippery one to pin down. It has taken sleuthmanship and cunning beyond the wit of man to find out even the basics. I’m mentally spent. So, here is it, the Loch Ness Monster, the Lord Lucan of cheeses, Inglewhite Buffalo:
Inglewhite Buffalo is made by Carron Lodge on Park Head Farm in Inglewhite, Lancashire. I know this because after some fruitless tweeting and much Googling I finally found one picture of the cheese in its packaging and managed to zoom in sufficiently to read the name at the bottom. I can’t tell you for sure whether it is pasteurised or unpasteurised but, based on some of the company’s other products, I’m going to take a punt on pasteurised (if anyone knows differently, please feel free to correct me in suitably strong tones).
The business is based on the slopes of Beacon Fell in an area renowned for traditional Lancashire cheese-making and, as well as producing a range of their own cheeses, they also act as a distributor for producers across the country, supplying specialist cheeses, as well as complementary products like biscuits and olives. Adrian Rhodes is these days at the helm after he persuaded his father Dick to diversify the family’s dairy farming back in 1988.
Buffalo cheese is still somewhat of a rarity in the UK, although producers such as Alham Wood and Laverstoke Park are becoming more well-known. Buffalo milk is feted as being high in calcium, lower in cholesterol than cow’s milk and suitable for some allergy sufferers due to it containing a different range of proteins.
I bought my chunk from a cheese stall after sampling some. The stallholder and I had a good chat about the taste. He says that he struggles to describe it to sceptical customers who haven’t tried buffalo products before. The texture is slightly crumbly and creamy in the mouth. It’s a mild milky taste but with a tart finish that at first reminds you of a cheddar but then transforms into something else that’s more sour and meaty. It’s the taste of a bigger, beefier animal, if that makes any sense whatsoever, the taste of a shaggy beast that roams the plains. Enigmatic. We’ll settle on enigmatic. Which brings me neatly to a rather lovely fact that I found out about the name Inglewhite; it’s thought to derive from the Gaelic for ‘white fire’, named for the will-o’-the-wisps that were once prevalent on the village green. See, I told you – enigmatic.