The second instalment of our Wales month, this week’s cheese is Y-Fenni.
It’s a Welsh cheddar full of mustard seeds and a generous lug of ale, and makes a great start to a Welsh rarebit. Why not try with a splash of Henderson’s Relish or Lancashire Sauce? Both vegetarian and vegan friendly (unlike another regional sauce, which famously contains anchovies), the former is The Spicy Yorkshire Sauce, flavoured with tamarind & cloves, and the latter Probably the Most Versatile Sauce in the World, mildly spiced with curry flavours like fenugreek and cumin.
The Abergavenny Fine Food Company also make Harlech – cheddar with horseradish and parsley – which has become an ever-present in our fridge following a customer request.
So this week’s COTW, dovetailing with our first DOTM (I can’t move for initialisms at the moment), is Pont Gâr Soft Blue, made by the Camarthenshire Cheese Company (CCC?) in West Wales.
It’s a mould-ripened cheese with a little bit of blue veining. But don’t be fooled – there’s plenty of flavour here (I think the round we’re working through must be a well-aged one). The producers suggest baking it to turn it into a dip – great with crusty bread, and I’d suggest a few sticks of celery too.
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.
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.
This cheese may look like I was a bit peckish during the night and gnawed my way through the middle hoping no-one would notice, but it is meant to look like that. Honestly. The clue is in the name – it is called Stanage Millstone after all.
It’s produced a few miles along the Hope Valley in Hathersage, by the Summerlins at Cow Close Farm. The cheese has only been on the market since Spring 2016, and will surely prove to be both a tasty and very stylish addition to any cheeseboard.
With a soft bloomy rind encasing a rich flavour and buttery texture, my top tip is to serve in wedges on Miller’s Cranberry and Raisin Toasts. In fact, this combination proved so popular at our Opening Party that we sold a fair few Toasts and also sold out of our stock of ‘ready-to-eat’ Millstones. We have more Millstones for sale, but they are still developing in the rind and won’t be ready to eat until Friday. Something for the weekend, perhaps?