Earlier this week I had my fifteen minutes of fame on a radio show called The Dirt, which focuses on gardening and food. Should you be at a very loose end and wish to hear me wittering on about disastrous home-cheesemaking and how people should be able to eat nasty cheese if that’s what they like (fence-sitter, moi?) then you can find it here. I turn up about three quarters of the way through. One of the topics we got on to was ‘cheese with bits in’ and I did at this point declare that I am, on the whole, not a fan. All of which leads me neatly on to this week’s cheese, Posbury. My slab of Posbury was kindly sent to me by a friend who tried it, liked it and thought I might too. My initial thought was ‘Eeek, cheese with bits in!’ So, here it is: Posbury, pre-nibble, with its bitty-bits glittering at me evilly:
Tag Archives: washed curd
This blog is about British cheese, I eat huge amounts of British cheese and my fridge is usually groaning with the stuff. I’ve even had to start lurching about in front of an exercise video, such is my dedication to the stuff. But I have a confession to make. Every few weeks I scuttle off to the Italian delicatessen about ten minutes from where I live to buy an aged goat’s cheese from them. I don’t know what it’s called and neither do they (they seemed quite bemused when I asked them). But it’s lovely and I hadn’t found anything resembling it during my British cheese travels. But then, as the year rolled on through all the various cheese awards, I kept hearing about an aged goat gouda, which was hoovering up gongs left, right and centre. I asked its maker if it was available anywhere in the Big Smoke (it isn’t) and she very kindly sent me some to try. Here it is: Continue reading
It’s fair to say that Suffolk has historically had a bit of an image problem when it comes to cheese. Back in the sixteenth century Suffolk cheese had a good reputation but farmers began to turn to butter production, which was more profitable; cheese made from the resulting skimmed milk was famously hard and inedible. One connoisseur described it as having ‘a horny hardness and indigestible quality’, Samuel Pepys recorded that his wife was ‘vexed at her people for grumbling to eat Suffolk cheese’ and a range of contemporary ditties describe how weevils are unable to penetrate it and rats on ships prefer to eat grindstones. When severe floods and cattle disease caused a drop in production, cheesemongers were only too happy to turn their attentions to Cheshire cheese instead and before long Suffolk cheese receded into folk memory.
I am easily confused this week. Off the back of last week’s lurgy, we launched straight into the festivities for my Other Half’s ‘big birthday with a zero on the end’. Six days later my liver is a pulsating rugby ball and my head is filled with cotton wool. The only milk product I really need is milk thistle. So exactly the sort of day that some cheese could sneak up and get me all geographically confused again. First of all there was Shropshire Blue, which I discovered wasn’t made in Shropshire and then there was Appleby’s and their gold-standard Cheshire cheese, which is made in Shropshire, not Cheshire. Stilton, of course, can’t be made in Stilton. And now, here is Old Winchester – which isn’t made in Winchester (although it is sort of nearby, I’ll give them that…)
I am ashamed to say this is the first Irish cheese to make it to the blog. When I decided to focus on ‘British’ cheeses, I wasn’t sure whether to include Irish; Ireland is, after all, a very separate country. I might just as well have included France or Papua New Guinea. I got myself in a right old pickle, trying to work out the difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and the British Isles (all completely different, since you ask). But there are so many great Irish cheeses with fascinating stories behind the people and landscapes that make them that I decided to settle on cheeses of the British Isles (a geographical term, not a political one, since you ask again). Plus, many of the Irish cheeses have won gongs at the British Cheese Awards, so that sealed it for me.
Phew, that was a hard-going intro, wasn’t it? Onto the cheese! Here is Coolea, a very Irish cheese (and if this picture doesn’t make you think of sunny days, I don’t know what will):
Since setting out on my mission to chomp my way through and learn about as many cheeses of the British Isles as I can (there are about 700 at the last count…and I’m not sure that includes Ireland…so I could be some time…) I’ve tried to ensure I represent a mix of different cheeses. Cow, sheep, goat, buffalo. Hard, soft and the various states of squidginess inbetween. Raw and pasteurised. But I know that I’ve been very rubbish indeed when it comes to geography and anywhere outside of England is getting a raw deal of it. This is purely down to what’s available where I shop, rather than any kind of cheese separatism but I know I need to try harder. So, this week, in the spirit of union, I bring you Teifi: