It’s not long until Christmas and no doubt you’ll be trying to think of gifts for your foodie friends or finishing touches for your Christmas dinner. We’ve been lucky enough to chat to Andy Swinscoe from The Courtyard Dairy, supplier of cheese to the likes of Michelin Starred The Box Tree, about the best cheeses to consider during the upcoming festive season.
Although cheese isn’t just for Christmas, there is no doubt that it is a key addition to the day. Once upon a time, that would mean a standard block of Cheddar, Stilton and a Wensleydale with Cranberries, but with Britain’s flourishing artisan cheese scene, you can champion proper traditional cheese this year.
What is the difference? Well, if you can find a good cheesemonger, they hopefully will sell you cheese that is still made on the farm, by hand, often with unpasteurised milk. These rinded blocks of traditional cheese hopefully then have a much greater depth and interesting flavour than their mass-produced counterparts.
You’ll also be supporting small scale agriculture and enterprise. To get more of an idea about this scale of production, have a look at these video visits to farmhouse cheese producers.
At The Courtyard Dairy in Settle, it’s been exciting to be involved in this resurgence in farmhouse cheese. In fact, of the 30 exclusively farmhouse cheeses we do, 26 have come about since 2005.
Here are our top picks this Christmas:
Stichelton: Like a Stilton, but made with unpasteurised milk, matured slower and pierced less. Hence it has an amazing depth of flavour, soft creamy texture and rich lingering blue note. Stilton how it used to be…
Winslade: Britain’s answer to Vacherin, it is soft, runny and creamy with a piney-resinous flavour.
Dale End Cheddar: Yorkshire’s answer to farmhouse Cheddar. Made by Botton Village with unpasteurised milk, it is 18-months old, tangy and powerful. Cheddar as it should be.
Anster: Fresh, zesty and light, this gives any Wensleydale, Cheshire and Lancashire a run for its money. The fresh-zestiness is also perfect to cut through a dense fruity Christmas cake. Made by hand by Jane Stewart on her family farm in Fife.
Amalthea: A delicate, light and fresh goats milk cheese, this cheese has only been around for two years and is fast becoming a classic.
Baron Bigod Brie: Britain’s answer to Brie de Meaux. Made with unpasteurised milk on the farm (Britain’s only Brie to be done like this) it is velvety smooth, mushroomy and bulging at the sides.
These cheeses can be bought online or sent as a gift pack to a friend on The Courtyard Dairy’s website.
Written by Andy Swinscoe of The Courtyard Dairy
(Cheesemonger of The Year – World Cheese Awards 2013)
(Featured in The Telegraph’s the World’s Top 20 Cheese Shops 2015)
(Runner-up in the Observer Food Monthly Awards Best Independent Retailer 2015)
Categories: Exclusive Interviews