Ruth Kirkham is a name that has become synonymous with Lancashire cheese since she began producing her traditional raw milk cheese in 1978, although she has now passed on the mantle to son Graham.
Made with raw milk and animal rennet, everything is done by hand, save the peg mill, which mills the curds. The cheese is then clothbound using a buttered cloth whilst it matures.
Pass the Eccles Cakes!
Berkswell is a hard ewe’s milk cheese made at Ram Hall farm in the West Midlands. With its distinctive (if slightly awkward for us cheese-cutters) shape, it’s dry with a grainy texture, and a sweet, nutty flavour. You can treat it like a manchego and tuck in to hunks of it with bread and quince jelly, or like a pecorino and shave it onto salads, green veg, poached eggs or pasta.
There’s a great article about the cheese – with some cool pics of how it gets its shape – here
Another offering from M&B Deaville & Son near Acton, this cheese is perfect for spring. Medium in strength – by no means one of the really hard-hitting cheddars – its real virtue lies in the addition of wild garlic, giving it a lovely colour and aroma, together with a sweet garlic flavour. It’s unpasteurised, organic, vegetarian, and very moreish.
We are delighted to have secured ourselves a small supply of Brefu Bach, winner of Best New Cheese at the British Cheese Awards 2016.
Brefu Bach, or Little Bleat, is a delicious ewe’s milk cheese made by Cosyn Cymru, a small producer in the foothills of Snowdonia. Made with vegetarian rennet derived from thistle extract, it reminds me a little of chèvre in appearance and texture, given its rind, but not in taste -it’s really gentle and creamy, with a slight sourness, and no “goatiness” at all.
As well as cheese, we have also had another delivery of Welsh food and drink, including these little tiddlers from the Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company – fish-shaped crackers made with seaweed and Halen Môn sea salt. Great as something a bit different on a cheese platter.
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.
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.