A new addition to our fridge, Oak Smoked Northumberland is a hard cow’s milk cheese smoked over oak chippings for 24 hours. It’s handmade by the Northumberland Cheese Company on the Blagdon Estate, using milk from a single herd. Mellow, with a long-lasting smoky flavour. Highly recommended on a burger straight off the barbecue.
From the Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes, Wensleydale Special Reserve is a slightly aged version of the famous Yorkshire export, and is certainly worth the wait. It has the usual clean flavour and crumbly texture you’d expect of Wensleydale, but with a fuller flavour.
Cheese production in Hawes has a fantastic history. The first creamery was built in 1897, and just about survived the depression of the 1930s. Eventually finding itself in the hands of Dairy Crest, the creamery closed in May 1992, but former employees and a local businessman managed to get things back on track and cheese was produced in time for Christmas. Since then it has gone from strength to strength – it continues to make fantastic cheese, using local milk, helped along the way by some unlikely plasticine ambassadors.
Admittedly not the most enticingly-named cheese – it always sounds a bit violent to me – this is in fact old-favourite Dovedale with the addition of cracked black peppercorns for added flavour and texture. A good cheese for cooking – after all, it’s pre-seasoned…
Like Olde York last week, this is another ewe’s milk offering from Shepherd’s Purse. Pale white in colour and streaked with blue-grey veins, Mrs Bell’s Blue is a piquant blue not dissimilar to Roquefort, but with more creaminess and less saltiness. It has a pleasant tang that goes well with fruits.
It also makes a nice contrast to our Gorgonzola Dolce, which is a younger, fruitier cow’s milk blue I’ve been enjoying with quince jelly. Come in and try both!
Olde York is one of our ever popular ewe’s milk cheeses, made by Shepherd’s Purse in Yorkshire. Judy Bell (who also makes – you guessed it – Mrs Bell’s Blue, among other things) began producing cheese from sheep’s milk in the 1980s – Olde York won Gold at the 1989 Nantwich International Cheese Awards and has been going ever since.
A really fresh-tasting cheese, cuttable but quite soft, I like it with smoked salmon, although the ladies at Shepherd’s Purse go one step further in the decadence stakes and suggest strawberries and champagne…
Another Piedmontese cheese this week. Margot Beer Cheese is made with the milk of rare breed Pezzata Rossa d’Oropa cattle, adding Margot craft blonde ale to the curds. The result is a mild, semi-soft cheese with a patchwork of fine holes and a subtle beer flavour. The rind (not edible) takes on a yellow hue as it matures. We have 350g rounds (ours look oddly like pork pies, such is the toughness of the rind), available whole or in smaller portions as required.
This week’s COTW is another cheese hailing from Northwest Italy – Taleggio, made by Mario Costa in Novara, Piedmont. It’s a semisoft, washed-rind, smear-ripened cheese, with an oozing texture and a tangy, fruity, almost truffle-y aftertaste.
Taleggio is a lovely cheese to melt – great with other North Italian staples like risotto and polenta. I’m looking forward to trying it grilled on Grains‘ focaccia (our first delivery arrives next weekend on 22nd April), and drizzled with some Brock & Morten truffle oil.
We also have a couple of wines from the Tenuta Il Bosco estate, in the Oltrepò Pavese area of Lombardy. The Bonarda is a little unusual, being a slightly pétillant (that’s lightly fizzy to you and me) red wine (Croatina grapes). It’s fruity, dry, and best served a little chilled. The Brera is a fresh Riesling with apple and pear flavours.
This month we’re off to Northwest Italy for our inspiration, and this week’s cheese is Robiola Bosina – a mixed milk cheese from Piedmont. Made with both cow’s and sheep’s milk, it comes in mould-ripened squares that can turn pretty gooey as the cheese ripens. It’s pale in colour and creamy in texture, with a fresh, slightly sweet flavour. Unlike a lot of cheeses, I like it straight out of the fridge, a little chilled, but you might prefer it extra-runny once warmed to room temperature.
Look out for a few more Italian goodies creeping into the shop in the coming weeks.
Ciao, Monty x
Following Caws Cenarth‘s Perl Wen, this week we feature their blue offering – Perl Las (meaning blue, as opposed to white, pearl).
Perl Las is a semi-soft, creamy, slightly salty blue. It’s great with leeks that have retained a bit of their crunch, be it in a risotto, with gnocchi or perhaps even in a tart. Or, for the culinary whizzes out there, you could try making Perl Las ice cream, seen here on a cheeseboard.
Perl Wen is a beautiful Welsh organic brie-style cheese, with a fairly firm texture, and a lovely lemon-y flavour giving it a slight tang. I like this one with a smooth fruity jam rather than a chunky acidic chutney. How about filling a crusty baguette with Perl Wen, Hedgerow‘s Spiced Elderberry Jelly, and a handful of rocket?
Caws Cenarth began making cheese in the 1980s following the introduction of milk quotas — check out this photo of Gwynfor and Thelma Adams from back in the day. It’s now their son Carwyn who runs things, and he’s more than happy to receive visitors — there’s a viewing gallery and a chance to taste all their cheeses. That’s going on my holiday list!