It is with great pleasure that I introduce our special “Cheese of the Fortnight” – Montgomery’s Cheddar. Yes, that’s right, my namesake in the cheese world. And, as you won’t be at all surprised to hear, I think it’s a good ‘un.
Montgomery’s Cheddar is a handmade unpasteurised cheese made (with animal rennet) in North Cadbury, Somerset. To say we’ve struggled to find a good strong cheddar to slot into our cheese selection is putting it a bit high, but I wasn’t so Keen on Keen’s (another West Country Cheddar); Lincolnshire Poacher is a solid option, though I prefer the Double Barrel extra mature version.
Montgomery’s, however, is impressive. A strong cheddar, with a real depth of flavour and an unusually dry texture (due to the curds being shredded with an old-fashioned peg mill, rather than sliced). Watch out for the odd blue vein – a sign of a traditional cheddar, matured in cloth rather than plastic.
Fantastic with our Miller’s Ale crackers, which add bite from their thick cut and their hoppy, slightly sour taste.
Roses are red, violets are blue, we have stilton and stamps, and soppy stuff* too…
Heart-shaped cheddar & Coeur de Bray brie
Unique truffle hearts that look too good to eat
Red velvet cake balls, sparkling pink wine
And of course cards for your valentine
* for those of you not so committed to valentine’s gifts being heart-shaped and/or pink, we have our usual range of tasty treats. Why not put together a gift of beer and biltong, coffee and chocolate, cheese and chutney, or just gin ; )
This week sees a return to the Bourne family in Malpas (mentioned in COTW #3). The family has been making cheese since the 1700s, at its current farm since 1930, and John Bourne describes Mrs Bourne’s Mature Cheshire as their flagship.
We currently have the coloured variety, although don’t be expecting anything vibrant – think more pale coral than red leicester. It is the fullest flavoured cheshire I’ve come across yet, and is great on a ploughman’s with a good onion pickle (or indeed pickled onion).
*did you know our neighbours at Tea on the Green feature our Cheese of the Week on their ploughman’s?
This is Hartington’s Peakland White – a white stilton-style, tangy, slightly salty cheese – with its edges knocked off by the addition of cranberries and orange peel. And the folks at Hartington mean it when they say it contains generous pieces of orange peel – it really is very orangey indeed. A twist on the white cheese and cranberry combination for sure.
A firm favourite in these parts, Dovedale is a blue veined, full fat soft cheese – a mild, creamy, gooey blue.
Dovedale is one few British Protected Designation of Origin cheeses (not having a PDO is the reason why not all Cheshire cheese is made in Cheshire, for example). Previously made in Hartington, it is now made by the Staffordshire Cheese Co in Cheddleton, with milk from Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire.
It is also one of few cheeses to be dipped in brine during maturation, a process more common to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cheeses like Feta. Taking inspiration from that part of the world, how about pairing it with figs? Try halving fresh figs and roasting with a dollop of Dovedale on top, with or without a wrapping of thin sliced cured ham like prosciutto, and a drizzle of honey and/or balsamic vinegar. The prosciutto should crisp up nicely and turn it into a finger-friendly canapé. Otherwise serve on toasted baguette, or – if that’s still too gooey for you – as part of a salad.
New in this past week is Staffordshire Whitmore – an unpasteurised, organic, ewe’s milk cheese made in Acton, near Newcastle-under-Lyme (less than 40 miles away), by M&B Deaville & Son, who also make our Staffordshire mature cheddar (with or without wild garlic).
It’s a kind of a sheep’s cheese parmesan – not dissimilar to Berkswell, which has been going down a treat since we opened, but sweeter in flavour and less dry in texture, making it a bit easier as a cheese to nibble.
We think this will go nicely with our Daddy Cool’s Tomato and Chilli Chutney, which is moist and tangy to go with the hardness of the cheese. Daddy Cool’s is even closer to home, made in Tintwistle, Glossop. The Tomato and Chilli Chutney is medium heat, but we also have mild or (super)hot – Garlic and Papaya Pickle and Superhot Cranberry Naga Pickle respectively – as well as a range of Daddy Cool’s sauces.
This week’s cheese of the week is Ribblesdale Smoked Goat’s. It’s not a very goat-y goat’s cheese, nor is it a very smoke-y smoked cheese, but the combination definitely works.
Having started out in Horton-in-Ribblesdale, it’s now made in Hawes – more famous for its wensleydale – at a small artisan cheese maker’s specialising in goat’s cheese.
Ghostly white in colour (in its russet wax), and with a semi firm texture, it’s definitely worth a try even if you’re a professed goat’s cheese hater – come in for a taster and see if we can change your mind…
Happy New Year all. I missed recommending a cheese last week in the general confusion of the festive period, but here is your first cheese of the week for 2017.
Thomas Hoe Aged Red Leicester is made by the Long Clawson Dairy in Leicestershire. It’s not what you expect from an ‘ordinary’ red leicester – it has a visibly dry texture, a deep orange colour, and a strong, sweet, caramel flavour. If sales in the shop are anything to go by, it proved popular for many people’s Christmas cheese selections.
Another tip for your Thomas Hoe Red Leicester, particularly if it has aged a little too much and is past its best, is to use it for cooking. How about smoked haddock, leek, and Thomas Hoe Red Leicester fishcakes? Poach the fish in milk, add some leek rings to soften, flake the fish, mix with potato mashed with some of the ‘fishy milk’, throw in the leek and grated Thomas Hoe Red Leicester, shape, and stick in the oven til they crisp up (or something like that anyway – it’s Mrs Monty who does the cooking. I get lumbered with the washing-up).
This week’s recommendation is one of the range of Cheshire cheeses made by the Bourne family in Malpas. It’s a lovely full-on smokey number – you can smell the smokiness, and see the grill lines (think halloumi straight from the barbeque) – and the tanginess of the Cheshire complements this really well. I’d suggest perhaps some of Charlie’s Country Garden’s Roasted Garlic, Apple and Shallot chutney with this one, or maybe just a bit of fresh green apple.
Other Bourne options include an unpasteurised Cheshire (although this is fast running out), Mrs Bourne’s Mature Cheshire (coloured), and a Blue Cheshire (particularly good as an unusual alternative to stilton).
Sorry chaps I’m a bit late with my recommendation this week. My cousin Roque Rato has been visiting from Portugal and we’ve been sampling some port (hic). He brought a tawny port, a white port and a muscat from Real Compania Velha – he left a few behind for sale in the shop – so Christmas came a bit early and we cracked out the stilton.
Our stilton is made by the Hartington Creamery. There used to be a large cheese factory in that part of the world til 2009, when it closed down and Derbyshire lost its only homegrown stilton, but luckily the artisan Hartington Creamery was born a few years later and starting making stilton by hand in 2014. It’s a creamy stilton with lovely green-blue veins, and at this time of year comes in a very attractive pot (or we can cut a piece to your requirements). Great with port, or a sweet dessert wine for something a bit different.