Aldi’s Artisan British Cheese Range

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First, a confession. When I received an initial email from Aldi’s PR people, telling me that they were launching a new British cheese range, my first thought was along the lines of ‘Euw, that’s unlikely to be pleasant.’ It wasn’t a snobbish reaction against discount outlets but more a terror of supermarket cheese in general. I was once on a panel that had to judge supermarket territorial cheese and it was a fairly dismal experience. It was impossible to tell apart a Wensleydale from a Caerphilly, Lancashire or Cheshire, and the orange versions could equally have been Red Leicester or Double Gloucester. I digress but, in conclusion, I nearly did the British thing of ignoring the email entirely.

A little voice in my head, though, chirruped: ‘Come on! You’re supposed to write about all British cheese. Stop being so precious.’ So I emailed back and braced myself for what might follow (Tropical fruits? Mint chocolate chunks?) It’s fair to say that I was surprised by what followed next. Not only was there no fish and chip flavoured Cheddar in sight, but Aldi had lined up an impressive roll-call of producers for their new range. From the Appleby family in Shropshire, renowned for their unpasteurised Cheshire, to Dewlay Cheese in Lancashire, Mary Quicke and her clothbound Cheddar and Yorkshire’s Shepherd’s Purse, one of the pioneers of ewe’s milk cheeses, this was no mousetrap fodder.*

I was lucky enough to be sent some samples of the new range and, over the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at some of the cheeses in detail and using them to cook up some autumnal dishes. In the meantime, if you’re near a branch of Aldi, it’s definitely worth checking out their chiller cabinet. See what you can find, come back and let me know what you think. Happy hunting!

*Look out for cheeses from Trevarrian creamery, Swaledale and Belton too.

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14 Comments

Filed under cheese features, Uncategorized

14 responses to “Aldi’s Artisan British Cheese Range

  1. Well well. I was prepared to read your underwhelmed musings when I saw your post title, and am pleasantly surprised. Guess what? They’re currently building a branch in Ripon. It may be the death of Booth’s though 😦

    • I hope Booth’s will hold their own. Personally I still think it’s hard to do a full shop in Aldi/Lidl and although I like seeing what they’ve got in on any given week, I still rely on ‘traditional’ supermarkets where I know I can get the lot, or independents for something in particular. I’m all in favour of British produce though so hope this is a positive step for the producers concerned.

  2. Interesting. I’m usually fairly underwhelmed by supermarket cheese too, but perhaps there’s been a quiet revolution going on. I had a Tesco Finest mature Cheddar the other day that’s wasn’t at all bad. That’s damning with faint praise, isn’t it? Unlike you, I probably am being a snob as in a blind taste test I’m not sure I could pick it out from some I’ve bought from a deli cheese counter. I’ll look out for Aldi’s new range and look forward to your posts.

    • There has definitely been an improvement on the whole, driven partly (I would guess) by consumers moving towards ‘fancy furrin foods’ like Brie and more mature cheese. I hope this presents a good deal for British consumers and producers alike, although am also aware it’s a complicated old business…

  3. Alison's Wonderland Recipes

    There’s an Aldi about a mile from my house! I’ll keep an eye out for these next time I’m there. Thanks for sharing about them!

  4. I’m afraid I saw your title and thought ‘Well, that’s an oxymoron if ever I saw one,’ and remained skeptical. It would be better for consumers if the cheeses do all turn out to be nice (and actually taste distinct from each other), but I will still prefer shopping from small, independent concerns than big multi-nationals.

    • Julia, I’d love to. I’m one of many small town dwellers who has no realistic access to an independent grocer or cheesemonger. Booth’s supermarket, with a dedicated in-store cheese buyer is as good as it gets for us. However, they do stock good, thoughtfully sourced stuff.

      • Yes, I think Julia certainly makes a valid point. I tend to use a mix of supermarkets and independents and, again, for me it’s often based on ease of access. It may seem bizarre that, living in the city, access could be an issue but I don’t drive and have two small children so shopping trips can be a headache, in which case online wins! But I mix it up with independents, markets and grow yer own and support British produce whenever practical – so yes, hope this presents a good deal for the producers concerned too.

  5. Very interesting! I’m intrigued… Just wanted to let you know that we nominated you for the versatile blogger award – hope that’s ok 🙂 Love the blog!

  6. Fair enough! Pragmatism usually wins (for me, too), but it’s still worth having ideals to aim for.

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