Good Cheese 2023-24

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2023-24 | £4.50

Oozing charisma Visit the Cotswolds with us and find out what’s next for the dairy behind Rollright


GOOD CHEESE 2017-18 | 01905 350788

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With the environment and sustainability in mind, we have taken this opportunity to rename our range of sixteen wonderful flavours. Each flavour has its own descriptive eye-catching packaging which is both recyclable and eco-friendly.

With a peel-able (top right corner), resealable for freshness and recyclable, the packaging can go into household recycling once the cheese has gone. Get in touch to find out more... Call us and ask about a free taster day kit with your first order!




THE THING ABOUT cheese is that, even though it looks like it is standing still, it is always moving. I don’t just mean that runny wedge of brie on your cheeseboard or the invisible microorganisms at play in harder varieties. Yes, this shows that cheese is a living product, adapting and responding to its surroundings and the conditions we put on it. But it’s important to zoom out a little and see that the businesses producing and selling cheese are also mirroring this level of activity. What we always try to do with this publication is reflect the progression of the industry as a whole and I hope we’ve gone some way to achieving that aim for you in this edition.

Being a UK-based publication there is, of course, a degree of focus on our home turf. But we’ve gone for subjects and people that are forward-looking. We’ve taken a good look around David Jowett’s operation at King Stone Dairy (his flagship cheese Rollright is certainly one that moves!) and report on his plans for the future. Then there’s a look at the very modern phenomenon of mobile cheesemongers. And, if you’re feeling thirsty, make sure you read the report on our pairing sessions at The Grumpy Goat, an exemplary cheese & beer bar in Reading. As is now customary, there is also plenty here from around the globe. Learn more about how top restaurants in Trondheim use Norwegian cheese, discover

the emerging artisan scene in Brazil and be among the first to know about an unusualbut-worthy project in Bangladesh. We also have articles that provide glimpses of fresh approaches to titans of the counter – Parmigiano Reggiano and Le Gruyère AOP. The latter feature is on the 2022 World Cheese Awards champion, so not to be missed. Whatever you’re into, let Good Cheese move you, too.


















After decades of imports and European copies, this vast country is developing its own products and the infrastructure to sell them





What’s new and what’s happening in the world of fine cheese

A number of cheese shops have hit the road recently. Find out more about life on four wheels



Enter the caves that produced the Le Gruyère AOP Surchoix, which took last year’s World Cheese Awards by storm


The World Cheese Awards 2023 host city is a culinary hotspot, where restaurants are showcasing plenty of local cheese

Meet David Jowett, the maker of Rollright and other Alpine-inspired delights, at his Cotswolds dairy

A number of Parmigiano Reggiano producers have taken their approach to terroir to a new level


Michael Lane editor

Join us at The Grumpy Goat as our panel tries to find the perfect partners.

Discover a host of chutneys, crackers and more to pep up your cheeseboards

One entrepreneur is on a mission to radically alter the Asian country’s fortunes and dairy industry with a new cheese Track down a great UK cheesemonger near you with our directory of UK specialist stores




2023-24 | £4.50

Oozing charisma Visit the Cotswolds with us and find out what’s next for the dairy behind Rollright



Cover photo: Claire Bullen

EDITORIAL Editor: Michael Lane Deputy editor: Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox Art Director: Mark Windsor Contributors: Nick Baines, Claire Bullen, Md. Abul Hussain, Patrick McGuigan, Tomé Morrissy-Swan, Isabelle Plasschaert

ADVERTISING Sales director: Sally Coley Senior sales account manager: Becky Haskett

GENERAL ENQUIRIES Tel: +44 (0) 1747 825200 Guild of Fine Food, Guild House, 23b Kingsmead Business Park, Gillingham, Dorset SP8 5FB UK PRINTED BY Blackmore

PUBLISHED BY The Guild of Fine Food Ltd © The Guild of Fine Food Ltd 2023. Reproduction of whole or part of this magazine without the publisher’s prior permission is prohibited. The opinions expressed in articles and advertisements are not necessarily those of the editor or publisher.



Counter culture News from around the cheese world NEW UK OPENINGS A new cheese shop has opened in Westbury Park, Bristol. L’Affinage Du Fromage, owned by Louise and Leo Wirtz, is located in a former bookshop and sells mainly British cheeses alongside natural wine, charcuterie, chutneys, biscuits and bread. Spanish food specialist Brindisa has revamped its Balham deli, which is located next to the importer’s cheese storage and maturing facility, with improvements including a new deli counter with prominent cheese display.

Wakeman does double in expanded Affineur of the Year competition For the second year running, Perry Wakeman – from Cambridgebased cheesemonger and distributor Rennet & Rind – took home the top prize at Affineur of the Year. Wakeman won the accolade for his maturing of a brie-style Baron Bigod (made by Fen Farm Dairy), rendering it closer in texture to a Caerphilly – which he dubbed Vacherin Not Dor. As well as the supreme title of Affineur of the Year, Perry also won the best in class for the soft cheese category with the same cheese. Staged by the Academy of Cheese and maker Quicke’s, the 2023 competition was expanded to include a wider variety of cheeses, with contestants invited to mature

either a young version of Cropwell Bishop Blue Stilton, Quicke’s Clothbound Cheddar or Baron Bigod. Many chose to tackle all three. At an event in June, all the cheeses were presented to and judged by an expert panel on aspects including flavour, aroma, texture, appearance and innovation. An audience of 150 industry professionals was also invited to sample the cheeses and submit votes for a People’s Choice award – which was won by Leeds-based retailer George & Joseph for a Bigod that had been washed in Stout. The Courtyard Dairy won the Best Cheddar award, while No2 Pound Street took the Best Stilton trophy.

Berkswell maker among those shutting down operations

Paxton & Whitfield has added to its retail portfolio with a shop in Canterbury. The retailer and wholesaler, which has two shops in London and one in Bath, opened a fourth outlet in the Kentish city last month, after it took over and rebranded the Cheese Shop Canterbury. Cambridge-based affineur and wholesaler Rennet & Rind has opened its first bricksand-mortar shop, after taking over and refurbishing Stamford Cheese & Deli in Lincolnshire. Mathew Carver, who owns The Cheese Bar restaurant group in London, has opened a wood-fired pizza restaurant called Rind at the newly expanded Courtyard Dairy in Yorkshire, owned by cheesemonger Andy Swinscoe.



A number of cheesemakers have decided to call it a day in 2023. Perhaps the most high-profile of them is Ram Hall Dairy in the West Midlands – best known for producing Berkswell. The raw sheep’s milk cheese is a multiaward-winner and one of Britain’s best known artisan cheeses but after 35 years in business, its creators the Fletcher family has decided to due to ill health, rising costs and tough trading conditions. Ram Hall’s flock of 800 sheep is being relocated to BlackLion Vodka in the Cotswolds, which was already using the sheep’s whey for distilling. The drinks company now plans to continue this arrangement by supplying King Stone Dairy in Gloucestershire with milk for a new Ossau-Iraty style cheese (read more about this on page 7). Award-winning goats’ cheesemaker Tenacres Cheese in Hebden Bridge has also announced it is planning to close permanently after being denied planning permission to expand its dairy and farm. At the beginning of 2023, Lancashirebased Leagram Organic Dairy, which had traded since 2000, closed at the end of January citing soaring energy and cheesemaking costs.

Berkswell will no longer be

produced but Sage

Derby will continue with a different producer

One of Britain’s oldest cheesemakers Fowlers of Earlswood, which can trace its history back to 1670, has closed down – but its flagship Sage Derby cheese will continue to be made by Hartington Creamery.

NEWS Two top UK artisan producers are currently waiting on the results of a dairy swap, conducted in December 2022. The Lincolnshire Poacher team made a batch of their cheese at the Somersetbased Trethowan Brothers’ premises using the milk that goes into Pitchfork Cheddar, and there was a return visit mirroring this. The cheeses will be unveiled in autumn 2024.

Trade round-up: M&A activity galore Collaboration and consolidation seem to be the main themes when it comes to the business side of cheese at the moment. At the end of 2022, Joseph Heler Cheese in Nantwich acquired Macclesfield-based the Cheshire Cheese Company. Not long after that, wholesaler and producer Carron Lodge bought Lancashire cheesemaker Singletons & Co out of administration, having acquired the Cheddar Cheese Gorge Cheese Co and Ribblesdale Cheese in 2022. Cheese importer and distributor Anthony Rowcliffe has acquired Devon-based Hawkridge Farmhouse Dairy Produce. Meanwhile, Somerset cheddar-maker Barber’s has taken over export business Somerdale International, and wholesaler Bradburys has invested in several cheesemaking operations, including Yorkshire Pecorino.

Nordic Cheesemongers group brings the industry together While the World Cheese Awards in Trondheim might be the Scandinavian cheese event of 2023, the latest meeting of the Nordic Cheesemongers group was also a grand affair. The two-day conference was held on the picturesque Almnas Brük estate – where the internationally famous cheese Tegel is made – and included a number of activities to occupy more than 50 delegates representing the region’s top retailers, wholesalers and cheesemakers. As well as tours of the host’s cheesemaking facilities, demonstrations of retail equipment and a talk on seasonal pairings, the attendees were invited to judge and score a selection of cheeses from Sweden, Denmark and Norway. A final round of judging by a select jury determined that a Norwegian goats’ cheese, Kvit Undredal Vellagra from Undredal Stølsysteir, was the best on the day but the standard of cheese on show from all three nations was very impressive (Good Cheese’s editor was lucky enough to attend and judge)

Caerphilly cheese is to be made in the South Wales town that it is named after. The white crumbly cheese hasn’t been made in its birthplace for three decades but Cwmni Caws Caerfilli has been trialling batches this year. With the aim of attracting younger consumers, Somersetbased Godminster has unveiled a rebrand that appears across its range of waxed organic cheddars. It’s original vintage cheddar, renamed Bruton Beauty, still comes in the familiar burgundy wax, while Oak-Smoked Cheyney’s Fortune, Red Chilli Devil’s Dance; and Black Truffle Howling Hound come in black wax. Curlew Dairy in Yorkshire has changed the name of its raw milk cheese from Old Roan to Yoredale Wensleydale, after the original name for the valley of Wensleydale. Creamy Bavarian blue Grand Noir has been launched in waxed wedges for the first time. The new line has been developed by Elite Imports, which imports the cheese from producer Kaserei Champignon, in collaboration with wholesaler Carron Lodge. Waxing the cheese increases the shelf life up to 55 days compared to a wheel of cheese.

Set up by cheese professionals from Sweden, Norway and Denmark, the group exists to promote the work of both retailers and artisan producers across the region. For more details of the event and future events follow nordic_cheesemongers on Instagram.

Although he’s American, The Fine Cheese Co’s Nick Bayne represented the UK and came third at Concours Mondial du Meilleur Fromager – a competition to name the world’s best cheesemonger. Vincent Philippe of Maison Bordier in Brittany was the winner, while Sam Rollins (Cowbell Fine Cheese in Portland, USA) took second place.

ESSENTIAL READING FOR TUROPHILES The Cheese Life Mathew Carver & Patrick McGuigan The debut cookbook from the man behind The Cheese Bar and Pick & Cheese contains recipes, cheeseboard suggestions and plenty of background into how cheese is made.


The Cheese Wheel Emma Young Written by an experienced cheesemonger, this book profiles more than 100 cheeses – with notes on origins, drinks pairings and cheeseboard guidance.

A pamflyt compiled of Cheese University of Leeds The institution has acquired the oldest known book about cheesemaking – a 112-page vellum-bound manuscript thought to be hand-written in the 1580s. You can read the full manuscript at

Welsh cheesemonger Owen Davies has developed two of his own cheeses to be sold via his Ty Caws retail business. The new products are Hiraeth – a small, soft ewes’ milk cheese – and a crumbly mixed sheep and cows’ milk cheese called Crwys. Oxfordshire-based Nettlebed Creamery has teamed up with Waitrose to develop a soft cows’ milk cheese washed in English sparkling wine, produced on the retailer’s own Leckford Estate. Waitrose No.1 Leckford Wash Cheese in 281 Waitrose stores. British farmer-owned dairy co-operative, First Milk has updated the packaging for its recently launched brand Golden Hooves. Created to communicate the brand’s regenerative agriculture story to consumers more engagingly, the cardboard packaging for the Mature Cheddar (200g) will now feature a golden ‘stomp of approval’ to represent the pivotal role that healthy cows’ hooves can play in nourishing the earth.








Cheese on wheels

A new generation of cheesemongers are basing their business models on a more nimble set-up. NICK BAINES meets the mongers that have gone mobile.

FOR DECADES, SELLING quality cheese was largely the regard of serious delicatessens in upmarket postcodes. It’s easy to understand why farmhouse cheeses had a reputation for grandeur which felt out of reach to some consumers. Nevertheless, these farm shops, delis and cheesemongers, as bastions of curd quality, were a pillar to our foodways. Often, these were destinations enthusiasts would make a special trip to once or twice a year. But in recent years, cheesemongers have been in a slight predicament. High-end supermarkets have doubled down on their cheese offering, improving access to it in an Amazon-esque move that fills a void for consumer convenience. This, compounded by higher rents, business rates and wage costs, has seen many established names go to the wall, as explained by Luke Maslen, one of the founders of The Cheese Connection in Bristol. Maslen has an esteemed resumé, having built a career through the hallowed halls of British cheese retail including Paxton & Whitfield, Mons and The Fine Cheese Co. Though wholesaling to delis

Alex Kiely. The Cheese Connection is based out of their Mercedes Sprinter, which they take to festivals and brewery tap rooms as well as regular markets and pop-up locations. They use their van to collect cheese direct from West Country producers and bring it straight to their customers throughout the region. “The layout of our van is slightly unorthodox, but luckily it works in our favour with space to cut and wrap. Everything we do is cut to order, it’s all traditional cheesemongering,” says Maslen. “People really love to see the wrapping and folding of waxed paper, and with the two of us, it becomes like this choreographed dance.” When asked about the decision to steer clear of a physical location, Maslen highlights the lower financial risk. “Being able to operate with low overheads has benefitted us quite nicely,” he explains. “But we are also more agile and nimble in the van. We are looking at new locations all the time. With bricks and mortar, you need a location that people will use seven days a week for it to work. The van has allowed us to try areas

and other cheesemongers can work as a business model, he says, “you need a certain demographic where you position your shop in order to make it work.” In early 2023, Maslen left his job at The Fine Cheese Co. to start a mobile cheesemongers operation with his colleague

We are also more agile and nimble in the van - we are looking at new locations all the time. With bricks and mortar, you need a location that people will use seven days a week Luke Maslen, The Cheese Connection




that we thought would be good but turn out not to be.” The ability to adapt and pivot gives mobile cheesemongers an upper hand on traditional shops. Luke and Alex and The Cheese Connection present cheese and beer pairing platters at local breweries, and serve hot food at events like raclette, mac ’n’ cheese, and rarebit. Dorset’s Carolyn Hopkins is branching out into foodservice after several years retailing cheese from her Citroen H van, which is called The Truckle Truck. “I’ve started to serve raclette and tartiflette at evening events,” says Hopkins, who spent 13 years working at Shaftesbury’s Turnbull’s Deli. “I would never go back to bricks and mortar. The stress, the overheads, the wages. If I had a shop, I know I’d be spending most of my time in the office, or in the kitchen, and that’s not what I want to be doing. I have a bigger catchment area now, without having to have multiple shops.” Carolyn has around five regular stops in the area and attends festivals throughout the year. We talk about the complacency of consumers’ frequent custom when they



know a shop is always there, compared to the sense of urgency when your business operates as an event. “It’s a blessing and a curse,” says Hopkins. “It certainly condenses the trade down to one day a week. You’re basically asking people to wait, but I think in general a lot of my customers are prepared to, to get good cheese.” In neighbouring Hampshire, Kerrieanne Cartwright Forbes runs a mobile cheese shop called Marscarpony out of a converted horse box. “We had the idea in June 2022 and had planned to take our time and open the following year, but a friend who runs a local wine shop said ‘are you nuts, you don’t want to miss out on Christmas,’ and so we opened just a few months later in the September.” While some mobile cheesemongers store their vans in industrial units where they can prepare cheese and hot food, Forbes takes deliveries and operates exclusively from the horse box. “There’s not much space, so I have to be selective with what cheeses I carry. I buy weekly from Neal’s Yard Dairy and it all goes straight into my fridges in the horse box.”

As well as some regular pitches, which includes one opposite a pub, Forbes also supplies cheese for weddings and has started to experiment with subscriptions. A year in, she tells of only small hurdles to overcome. “Parking is the biggest difficulty, but I’ve become a bit of a pro now. Getting boxed in can be an issue. I also have to make sure that I’m fully charged for the day. I have solar panels on the horse box, but if it’s not sunny enough, I need to be mindful of energy.” The condensed trading is what appeals to Lincoln’s Adam O’Meara, who since January 2021 has operated the mobile business Bread & Cheese. “I love the intensity of what I do,” he says. “I enjoy amazing flexibility. I do around 16 mornings a month, and I’m in the privileged position to be able to spend the rest of my time with my young son. A former university lecturer, O’Meara’s family has been operating a dedicated cheese business in the city for many years. When he was furloughed during the 2020 lockdowns, the opportunity to bring high quality local cheeses to the surrounding villages ceased and has had some significant upshots to the communities he operates in. “In some of the villages I visit, my stop has actually helped bring around local farmers markets again,” he says. What started out as a mobile, van-based business has led Adam to open physical premises as well. “The bakery I used to buy my sourdough from closed down,” he explains. “So I have just opened The Grain of Truth Bakery, in order to keep myself supplied with bread.” The rise of food trucks has clearly moved on from the sole remit of citydwelling hipsters and fly-by-night festivals. Nowadays pop-up markets are everywhere from the disused cinema car park in Peckham to villages in rural Cumbria, giving conscientious food start-ups new routes to market. The concept of constructing a business based out of a vehicle looks increasingly attractive, on paper as well as on the obligatory Instagram account to go with it.




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Urs Leuenberger is the master cheesemaker who supplied the winning Le Gruyère AOP to affineur Gourmino

From the mountain to the top of the world

The story behind the biggest winner at last year’s World Cheese Awards is an intriguing blend of collaboration, artisanal expertise, and a network of caves. PATRICK McGUIGAN ventures into the tunnels at Swiss affineur Gourmino to find out more about how it created the World Champion Le Gruyère AOP Surchoix THERE’S A STEEL door at the bottom of the Blüemlisalp mountain range in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland that opens into a long dark tunnel. Follow the stone passageway deep into the mountainside and it brings you to a series of secret caves, patrolled by men in white coats intent on world domination. It might sound like we’ve stumbled across the secret lair of a James Bond villain, but thankfully this underground base is used for a more wholesome pursuit. The cool, humid caves are filled with thousands of cheeses, from 40kg discs of Gruyère to giant wheels of Emmenthal weighing more than 100kg. These are lovingly tended by highly skilled affineurs (maturers), whose mission it is to nurture the cheeses to perfection before sending them out to cheesemongers around the planet. Welcome to the home of Gourmino, a Swiss cheese cooperative that last year succeeded in its mission to make worldbeating cheese when one of its wheels of Gruyère was voted World Champion at the World Cheese Awards in Wales, beating 12


4,433 other cheeses in the process. The wheel in question was made by a small mountain dairy called Vorderfultigen, located near a village of the same name in the hilly Gantrisch region of Bern, which has been making cheese since 1883. The current owner is Urs Leuenberger – a master cheesemaker who worked for many years producing Emmenthal and also at an industrial milk processing company, before

In the cellar we are 200 metres into the mountain and 250 metres below the pastures above

returning to his artisan cheesemaking in the mountains. He makes just six or seven wheels of cheese a day, using raw milk from six farms within a 1km radius. They are so close he can see their cows grazing the rugged pastures from his dairy windows. Once Leuenberger has made his cheeses, they are sent on to Gourmino’s caves to be matured. The MD of this remarkable underground operation is Roland Sahli, who explains that he was relaxing with friends in Switzerland when a call came through from Wales, where the World Cheese Awards was being held. The news was that one of his wheels was on the brink of something special. “It was a day off and I was playing cards with friends when Denis Kaser (international marketing manager of Le Gruyère AOP) called me from Wales to tell me perhaps there was a chance that we might win because our cheese was in the final,” he recalls. “I was a bit surprised for sure when we won,” he adds with supreme Swiss understatement. Part of his surprise was that another

2022 WORLD CHAMPION Gruyère from Gourmino, made by a different producer, had won the World Championship Cheese Contest in the US earlier in the year. “To win both awards in the same year was absolutely exceptional,” he says. “Like the grand slam in tennis.” Both the caves and the skill of Gourmino’s expert affineurs are integral to the company’s success. Previously four separate bunkers, built after the Second World War to store munitions, they were acquired by Gourmino in 2015 and joined up in a remarkable feat of engineering that involved drilling tunnels out of the rock between the different spaces. “In the cellar we are 200 metres into the mountain and 250 metres below the pastures above,” he explains. “So, the mountain offers us the perfect climate conditions. All year round, the temperature is around 8°C, but due to the heat produced by the ripening process of the cheeses it is around 11-13°C. “We also have temperature and humidity controls so we can mature the cheeses in four dimensions – we can heat, we can cool, we can dry and we can add humidity – but it’s the natural conditions that are most important. We don’t need to use the controls so much, so we use a lot less energy.” The four rooms are kept at different temperatures and humidities for different cheeses, including Gruyère, Raclette and Emmenthal, with space for around 60,000 wheels. To give a sense of their size and scope, Gourmino employees walk, on average, six miles a day between the four rooms, traversing tunnels lined with spruce boards made from trees in the valley, which once dried will be used as shelving for the cheeses. It takes three days for water to seep down into the caves from the pastures above after it has rained. Urs Leuenberger’s champion Gruyère was aged for over a year making it a “surchoix” cheese, meaning “high quality and long aged”. His cheeses have always been well suited for longer ageing, says Sahli, due to the excellent pre-Alpine pastures that the cows graze on near his dairy. Their milk creates cheeses with a lithe texture and elegant flavour that improve with time. “For years, the characteristic of his

(from top) Vorderfultigen dairy where the cheese was made, the doorway to Gourmino’s network of cheese maturing caves, and an affineur getting to grips with one of 60,000 cheeses held on the premises

cheeses has always been a fine, supple texture, which melts on the tongue with age. The flavour profile ranges from fruity at mild maturity to slightly salty at around 15 months of age. But the cheese is always harmoniously balanced.” While caves are important, picking the right cheese in the first place is essential, adds Sahli, something that is much easier to do as a cooperative. Gourmino is owned by a group of small mountain dairies, whose cheeses are matured in the caves, so there is naturally a good relationship between the makers and the maturers. “To realise the perfect affinage, the most important step is the selection of the cheese because not every cheese, even from Vorderfultigen, has the right quality level to mature for 15 months,” says Sahli. “The master cheesemaker has to pick the right cheeses for us. What is helpful is that we are working in a cooperative model. The cheesemakers are the owners of the company, so we are practising a philosophy of open books. The cheesemaker provides us with his books and his parameters during the production process. It’s a philosophy of collaboration and openness. We’re all on the same team.” A year on from winning the World Cheese Awards, Gourmino’s phone is still ringing with new business blossoming in the UK, Ireland and Norway. But rather than signing deals with big supermarket chains, the company is more focused on growing exports in partnership with small, independent retailers. “They can offer the whole story of the cheese because we are not only selling Gruyère from Switzerland, we are selling Gruyère from Switzerland produced by individual cheesemakers, like Leuenberger,” he explains. “We can supply cheese with a story that small retailers can tell. That’s important because they need a higher margin, so they must be able to differentiate themselves from the big retailers.” It turns out world cheese domination is deceptively simple. Take master cheesemakers working with high quality milk, add a little maturation magic in the mountains and then send those cheeses to retailers who can tell the story. From Switzerland with love.

WHAT MAKES A WINNER The World Cheese Awards winning Gruyère from Vorderfultigen was made in the summer of 2021 and aged for around 15 months in Gourmino’s caves. The cheese was championed by Swiss judge Christian Zuercher at the final in Newport, Wales, in

November 2022. He praised it for being “smooth in your mouth and melting on your tongue. You have a lot of flavour in it, from herbs to fruity, roasted, with a real leather note”.

The cheese garnered a total of 103 points from the 16 judges in the final with a Gorgonzola Dolce from De’Magi taking second place with 98 points. It was the fifth time

that a Le Gruyère AOP has been named World Champion at the awards – more than any other cheese in the awards’ history. Another Gourmino Gruyère, made by mountain dairy

Fritzenhaus in Bern, took the top prize at the World Championship Cheese Contest in Wisconsin in March 2022.



T H AT WA S T H E N… B U T W H AT I S N O W ? You can be sure of one thing. It will be outstanding. So watch out for the winner of The Ann-Marie Dyas Award for the World’s Best Artisan Cheese at the World Cheese Awards. You won’t miss it.

A proud sponsor of the World Cheese Awards GOOD CHEESE 2023-24



Queijo, let’s go! After decades of getting by on European imports and mass-produced generic imitations, Brazil is beginning to discover its artisan cheesemaking potential. TOMÉ MORRISSY-SWAN speaks to some of the producers and retailers at the forefront of this vast country’s awakening. CARVED INTO THE side of a hill, the small man-made cave I’m standing in isn’t your typical maturing room. While 120 beautifully round cheeses patiently age inside, the front door opens onto a sunkissed olive grove, and into a cacophony of cicadas and birdsong. Hummingbirds buzz between bright, tropical flowers, and the hills extend as far as the eye can see. Despite being deep in Brazil’s remaining lush and biodiverse Atlantic rainforest but, at 900m

If you take a 100km radius from there, there’s probably around 30 million people. I don’t know where else in the world a cheesemaker has a market like this. Érico Kolya, Pé do Morro

above sea level, it’s refreshingly cool and breezy. Here, in the Serra do Japí mountain range, just over an hour’s drive west of São Paulo, is where Érico Kolya makes cheese. The small 30-acre farm – most of which is jungle – has just nine milking cows, producing 150 litres per day, which is “almost a miracle”, he says. Supplemented by milk from neighbouring farms, Kolya and his team, led by 19-year-old cheesemaker

Amanda Thomé, are a crucial cog in a Brazilian cheesemaking revolution. This operation is emblematic of a new generation of Brazilian cheesemakers. After working for a multinational company in Germany, Kolya sought a career change. He spent time learning from European cheesemakers in Germany and the Swiss Alps, then began making cheese in his São Paulo kitchen, before transferring his knowledge to the farm, called Pé do Morro (‘foot of the mountain’). The cheeses themselves are eyecatching. Quina, a raclette-like washed rind, is light and delicate, and a wonderful melter. “It’s like a hug,” says Kolya. Lua is a soft white-mould cheese inspired by camembert that’s delicate yet punchy, with an unctuous texture. It’s a far cry from most cheese eaten in Brazil. Usually they are bland and massproduced, often poor imitations of European staples. Anything decent tends to be fresh white cheese – which makes sense in a hot country – but it can be hard to find real quality, with only a handful of good cheesemongers in São Paulo, the southern hemisphere’s largest city. But there are thought to be 80,000 cheesemakers in Brazil (though it’s GOOD CHEESE 2023-24



People sometimes come here with preconceptions, but often we can change them. Falco Bonfadini, Galeria do Queijo

notoriously hard to estimate) and thousands of Brazilians still produce cheese for personal consumption on smallholdings. In a country that received centuries of immigration from the likes of Italy, Spain and Portugal – countries with long cheesemaking traditions – surely it can’t all be bad? At Galeria do Queijo, a cheesemonger in São Paulo, owner Falco Bonfadini guides me through a huge board of top Brazilian cheeses, and many are historic. There’s Canastra from the cheesemaking powerhouse state of Minas Gerais. It is a raw cows’ milk cheese that can be slightly soft or semi-hard, a few days old or well-matured, with an acidity you might encounter in an English territorial. Coalho, a northeastern cheese similar to halloumi, is commonly sold grilled on beaches but the version from Fazenda Caju, in Rio Grande do Norte, has remarkable complexity. There’s also Marajó, a delicate semi-soft buffalo cheese from the eponymous island in the Amazon. On the modern end, Rosario Mineiro is beautifully crumbly, not unlike Caerphilly, while Vale do Testo has the tang of Lancashire with a pleasing meatiness. Cheese has a long history in Brazil. Around 400 years ago, the Portuguese introduced cows, says Débora Pereira, a journalist, former cheesemaker and 16


director-general of SerTãoBras, an NGO that supports the Brazilian cheese industry. Traditional Brazilian cheeses were heavily inspired by Portugal and Canastra became the most famous. The Serra da Canastra in Minas Gerais is a mountainous region where there are thought to still be at least 800 producers of the cheese – although some estimate many more – mostly small family operations. Canastra and Queijo do Serro, also made in Minas Gerais, have PGIs, as does Colonial, made principally by German and Italian settlers in the southern state of Paraná, and Marajó. As in the UK, post-war industrialisation hit artisan cheesemaking hard, and Brazil’s cheese-eating culture deteriorated to the point where many Brazilians became unaware – even fearful – of things like mould. “Under the governments of Lula and Dilma Rouseff [from 2003-2016], people began to travel more,” says Pereira. “They saw mouldy cheeses in Europe and began appreciating it.” Bonfadini, a World Cheese Awards judge and president of ComerQueijo, the association of cheesemongers in Brazil, agrees that younger generations are vital to the rebirth of Brazilian cheese. “They’re open to everything, they travel and want to understand where the cheese they’re consuming comes from, but it’s still

something relatively new.” Pereira points to Fert, a French NGO that helps small producers in developing countries, coming to Brazil in the 1990s and 2000s as a key factor in the rebirth of the artisan cheese movement. Both traditional and new cheesemakers were inspired to improve, and by the mid-2010s, Brazilian cheeses were receiving international acclaim. In 2015, Capim Canastra earned Silver at the Mondial du Fromage, becoming the first Brazilian cheese to get a medal outside Brazil. The following year, Tulha, a remarkably tangy, almost fizzy Parmesanlike cheese made by the Atalaia farm in São Paulo state (considered by many to be the preeminent artisan Brazilian cheesemaker), picked up one of the country’s first two Golds at the World Cheese Awards – along with Faixa Azul, an industrial Parmesaninspired cheese. At last year’s awards in Wales, two Brazilian cheeses won Super Golds. Morro Azul, made in Santa Catarina in the south, is inspired by Vacherin Mont d’Or, while Lua Cheia – a soft, creamy, white-mould cheese made by Serra das Antas in Minas Gerais – was also named Best Latin American Cheese. The medals cemented Brazil’s place on the global cheese scene, and those awards

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Executive Agency (REA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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BRAZILIAN ARTISANS received plenty of publicity in Brazil. Guilherme Ferreira, who makes Capim Canastra, “became a celebrity,” says Pereira. “Cheese is a tool for social progress. I’ve seen so many producers improve, and there are queues to buy their cheese.” If Minas Gerais – slightly larger than Spain – is the historic home of Brazilian cheese, São Paulo – slightly larger than the UK – is arguably leading the way in terms of new styles, although cheesemakers are popping up all over the country. “While Minas became tied up in tradition, São Paulo doesn’t have so much tradition, so people went straight for innovation,” Pereira explains. Often, that meant learning abroad before bringing back techniques and fusing them with Brazilian flourishes. So you might find a Morbier-like cheese with coffee grounds instead of ash, or a cheese rolled in lemongrass. “You can keep copying, but industrial cheese already does this very well,” says Pereira. “Cheesemakers are searching for a certain identity, which is really cool.” Caminho do Queijo Paulista is an association of 17 artisan cheesemakers from São Paulo, aimed at boosting tourism and awareness, and hosting an annual cheese fair in São Paulo city. Pé do Morro is a member, and Kolya’s farm is open to visitors, with a small shop selling his cheese as well as those from other producers, along with local wine, charcuterie, coffee and preserves. On weekends he sells pizza. “If you take a 100km radius from there, there’s probably around 30 million people,” he says. “I don’t know where else in the world a cheesemaker has a market like this.” Despite having stellar products and a burgeoning influence, Kolya sees it very much as a work in progress. “If I’m seen as a reference today, it’s because there’s a lack of reference points. Someone who started in 2017 shouldn’t be a reference point.” For many, however, he is. Kolya based much of his approach to rearing cattle, with an emphasis on rotational pastures, on an influential farmer called Ricardo Schiavinato. Schiavinato, on the other hand, sees Kolya as a leading light when it comes to cheese.

I have good quality milk, but I’m still learning about making artisanal cheese… it’s a new project, and I’m very inspired. Ricardo Schiavinato

Two hours north of Serra do Japí lies Serra Negra. It’s a stunning region of rolling hills that – if you replaced the rows of coffee plants for vineyards – could easily be in Italy, and is sometimes dubbed ‘Brazil’s Tuscany’. It is also where you’ll find Schiavinato’s 250-acre farm, Nata da Serra. It’s here that he experiments with

agroforestry. Pasture is surrounded by reforested jungle. Toucans dart between trees in a land once denuded for coffee plantations. Bird and insect populations are soaring. It’s a Brazil most foreigners – even some Brazilians – don’t see. Schiavinato has been farming here since 1990 – organically since 1997. Although milk has always been a focus, he recently decided to improve his cheese. Branching out from the simple fresh cheeses that Brazilians love to eat for breakfast (often alongside guava cheese in a dish known as Romeu e Julieta) Schiavinato and his cheesemakers Estevão and Léia have begun ageing cheeses, including a take on Morbier made with ash from the farm’s eucalyptus trees, and a Parmesan-style cheese. The cheeses, including a raw milk number called Italico, were recently evaluated by members of the Caminho do Queijo, and in March Schiavinato was inducted into the group. “I have good quality milk, but I’m still learning about making artisanal cheese,” says Schiavinato, who sells his wide range of cheeses at markets in the region and in São Paulo. “I haven’t won any awards, but it’s a new project, and I’m very inspired.” Brazilian cheese may be flourishing, but there’s still a long way to go. Price is a significant factor, with artisan cheese often costing as much as European imports, and far more than mass-produced cheese. There’s still a perception that European means better. At Galeria do Queijo, Bonfadini says, many go for European cheeses over their Brazilian counterparts, even when the Brazilian version is superior and competitively priced. “People sometimes come here with preconceptions, but often we can change them.” And public health laws remain stringent – until recently it was incredibly difficult to sell cheese from different states, most cheesemongers don’t age cheese, and all cheese must be sold wrapped in plastic. Despite that, Brazilian cheese is on the right path. It may not have reached Europe, yet, but don’t be surprised if it’s soon found at a cheesemonger near you.

FIVE BRAZILIAN CHEESES TO TRY Morro Azul Earning a Super Gold at the World Cheese Awards in Wales in 2022, this gooey cows’ milk cheese is loosely inspired by Vacherin Mont D’Or but is distinct, too. Held together by an oak band to maintain its structure, this white mould rinded cheese is creamy, even spreadable, with a whiff of cauliflower and mushroom on the nose.

Marajó One of few Brazilian cheeses with a PGI, Marajó hails from the eponymous island in the Amazonian state of Pará where buffalo rule the roost. There’s a long history of cheesemaking on the island, and the resulting cheese is mellow, delicate and a wonderful melter. On the island, it’s commonly eaten melted onto a buffalo steak. Look out for Queijo do Marajó Fazenda São Victor, the only one made with raw milk.

Canastra Brazil’s most famous cheese, with hundreds of producers, Canastra is a raw cows’ milk cheese that can vary greatly – from younger, fresher options to harder, more powerful numbers. Capim Canastra is one of the finest examples, having won multiple awards, and has a delicate sweetness reminiscent of an Alpine cheese.

Tulha Found on trendy restaurant menus all over São Paulo, Tulha is named after the coffee storage granaries on farms. It is made at the Atalaia Farm in the state of São Paulo. There, you can find excellent sheep and goats’ cheeses, but Tulha is a cows’ milk cheese that is mouth-tingling and offers a remarkable shot of umami, with hints of pineapple.

Lua Inspired by the camembert that Érico Kolya learned to make in Europe, Lua (Portuguese for ‘moon’), is a soft, whiterinded cheese with a delicate flavour and unctuous texture. The cheese demonstrates how modern Brazilian cheesemakers have taken inspiration from Europe but developed products in their own unique profiles.



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How they eat it in Trondheim Not only is it the host for the 2023 World Cheese Awards but this Norwegian city is also a major gastronomic destination, with an abundance of local ingredients and outlets showcasing them. With that in mind, MICHAEL LANE decided to find out how some of its top restaurants use and serve cheese.

BUILDING A CHEESEBOARD Trondheim has changed a great deal in the last couple of decades, according to longtime resident Roar Hildonen. “People are actually coming here now,” he jokes. “In the old days they were leaving.” Hildonen is the founder and general manager of To Rom og Kjøkken (which translates as ‘Two Rooms & a Kitchen’), a restaurant that opened in 2005 with a mission to showcase local food in the area – not a particularly trendy endeavour at the time. “Over 25% of Norwegian food is produced within 2-3 hours of Trondheim, and cheese is a big part of that – especially handmade varieties,” he tells Good Cheese. “There has been a tremendous explosion of new cheeses and skillsets that has developed in Norway in the last 20 years.” While Hildonen may have been ahead of the curve, the rest of the world is only just starting to catch on – thanks in no small part to the cows’ milk blue cheese that the restaurant likes to have on its cheeseboard regularly. “Kraftkar was a gamechanger for the knowledge of Norwegian cheese,” says Hildonen, recalling the times he has taken it to food events abroad – even managing to impress cheese enthusiasts in Bordeaux with it. “Before we’d always brought smoked salmon, now we bring cheese too.” Of course, Kraftkar is not much of a secret these days – after the creamy blue was named the best cheese at the World Cheese Awards in 2016. But its makers, Tingvollost in Tjorvågen, were only just starting out

when they met Hildonen. “I was the first restaurant in Norway (and the world) to buy Kraftkar, because I heard a speech about local food in the university here. Tingvollost were there to talk about their dairy. They were completely unknown but we started talking together after the meeting.” “They sent me some samples and we were blown away by the quality and I wanted to put it on the menu.” Despite their successes, the resolutely small producer insists that if they only have

one cheese left it will be delivered to To Rom og Kjøkken before anyone else. If that wasn’t enough to sell this cheeseboard to customers, Kraftkar is joined by Munkeby – a cheese made in a monastery of the same name near Levanger, north of Trondheim. This washed rind cheese is similar to Reblochon and is even made to a recipe passed on by monks from a French abbey. Hildonen says that the restaurant will buy 50 Munkeby cheeses at a time and ages them for an extra 2-5 weeks before serving them. Completing the cheeseboard is Orkladal Ysteri’s Høvding Sverre – a hard cows’ milk variety, which Hildonen bills as similar to the famous Alpine cheeses. “We use this cheese a lot [on boards and in cooking] because it is available all year round.” This selection is typical of what To Rom og Kjøkken serves. While Hildonen admits that he likes to make the most of seasonal cheeses, namechecking the goats’ milk creations from Grindal Ysteri, he never has to look beyond his own country. “We normally don’t use foreign cheese in the restaurant because I want to work with and promote Norwegian cheese,” he says, adding that there are nearly 100 cheeses for him to choose from in the Trondelag area of Norway alone. When planning a cheeseboard for the menu, the general manager’s preference is for one hard, one soft and one blue variety with a simple accompaniment (in this case it’s apricot compote and some fruitbread). “I prefer to have just three cheeses because then you have more to taste of each one. Five cheeses can be too much for some people after a meal – but not for me.” GOOD CHEESE 2023-24




As well as showcasing cheeses in their own right, To Rom og Kjøkken also deploys them in the kitchen. And, as with the cheeseboards, Høvding Sverre from Orkladal Ysteri is a popular choice of the chefs because it is consistent, in good supply, and (most importantly) elevates the dishes it appears in. This is quite literally the case with its beef carpaccio, which features herb mayonnaise, crispy capers and shavings of Høvding Sverre. “The cheese is just tiny flakes,” says Hildonen. “It’s a hard cheese but flavourful and elegant. The meat is lean so the cheese

brings fat and richness to complete the dish. It’s much better with it than without it. And it looks nice because it lifts the dish up in height.” The same cheese graces the plate of crispy pastry with cream of mushroom and brown butter served in the restautant. “Mushroom can look a bit… brown. The Høvding Sverre is there to bring a beauty to it. It’s richer than a Parmesan, more like a Gruyère, but it doesn’t take over the dish, so it works with the umami notes.” Another dish that really showcases the breadth of Norwegian cheese is the restaurant’s take on a classic Italian Cacio e

Pepe. This one breaks several rules. For a start it uses gnocchi and white asparagus, but the really interesting addition is Pepperknoll from Thorbjørnrud Ysteri, which is effectively a flavour-added cheese that is melted into the sauce. “It gives the last perfect edge on the dish. A lot of cheese made with herbs or spices, I’m not a big fan of it but the way they have used the pepper in this is elegant. It melts down and it’s perfect for Cacio e Pepe – bringing the black pepper taste to it. We never put this cheese on a cheeseboard, it’s too specialised but it’s perfect for this.”


the classic rosettbakels. “It is a Norwegian pastry that has existed for hundreds of years and it is usually fried in fat. Ours is filled in the middle with a brown cheese cream made with Brunost from Heidal Ysteri, which is believed to be the oldest brown cheese maker in Norway. “We then top it off with a ‘snow’ made from crushed blue cheese – Nidelven Blå from Gangstad Cheese Maker. It is is also filled with lingonberries to further enhance these wonderful Norwegian flavours.”

Fagn is another highly regarded establishment in Trondheim. It’s a fine dining operation with One Michelin Star that also has a bistro. The restaurant’s name references the traditional welcome, food and lodgings that was once offered to travellers at rural farmhouses in Norway and its cooking reflects that ethos, while also being wildly creative. When asked to explain the restaurant’s approach to using local cheeses, head chef Ådne Børseth Helgetun picks Fagn’s take on 22




Centuries of tradition Made using a cooperative approach in the Jura Massif for more than 1,000 years, Comté is a cheese that follows a strict production blueprint to harness the region’s unique terroir. COMTÉ IS NO ordinary hard cheese. From its early origins of cooperative production to its recognition beyond the boundaries of its rural region, Comté has always distinguished itself amongst French cheeses. Savvy consumers no longer choose their cheese based on taste alone. Provenance, ethics and sustainable credentials take almost equal footing alongside craftsmanship, ingredients and terroir for the discerning cheese customer. Consumers are looking for cheese which tells a story they can believe in, and we believe that Comté’s story is one worth telling. Comté is a cheese with community at its core. It was one of the first French cheese to achieve AOC status in France and is now the largest and one of the most respected PDOs in the country. Born from a need for local farmers to pool resources to make cheese to survive the winter, in the Jura Massif they say that a cheese 24


is not born Comté, it must become Comté. Every cheese is expertly aged according to its potential, meaning that every wheel of Comté you eat is the very best version of itself. Of course to become the best Comté possible, each cheese must be made to the highest standard at every stage of production. Luckily, making Comté has always been a collaborative effort. Comté has been a cooperative since before it was cool, with local farmers pooling milk at their nearest fruitières to make cheese every day for almost 1000 years. The cheese is made following a strict blueprint, ensuring every wheel of Comté is made using the traditional methods that make it so unique. Each farm must be within an 8 mile radius of its fruitière to ensure the high quality of the milk and these farmers prioritise animal welfare above all else. The farmers exclusively feed their herds of Montbeliarde and French

Simmental cows from the immediate geographical area. In Summer they graze on vast wildflower pastures in the winter they feast on hay made from the very same fields. This is what gives Comté its unique terroir. From the copper cauldrons used to heat the milk to the hammers used by affineurs so that they might listen intently to whether a Comté is ready to eat, traditional methods and a personal touch are key to Comté’s delicious taste. Each wheel is lovingly turned and rubbed with brine to help them to become Comté. The cooperative approach ensures that every person in the supply chain holds equal import and bears equal responsibility for the quality of the cheese. Comté is a cheese made with collective passion for an outcome you can trust. If you would like to stock Comté and enjoy a slice of the potential profits of this unique cheese, head to: www.comtecheese. to contact us, as well as downloading promotional materials to support your sales.





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Looking to the horizon


Over the course of the last decade, Cotswolds-based cheesemaker David Jowett has risen to prominence via his unctuous washed rind creation Rollright – which graces all of the top counters in the UK. But, as CLAIRE BULLEN discovers, his journey to founding King Stone Dairy was not all smooth sailing and his early experiences have shaped how he approaches growing his operation. FIFTEEN MINUTES FROM Cirencester in the heart of the Cotswolds, on the highest point for miles around, cheesemaker David Jowett and I pause to watch clouds race across the sky. From up here, we have advance warning of the storm gathering on the horizon and can estimate how long it will be before it reaches the patchwork of fields that surround us. “We’re actually on a Second World War

airfield,” he tells me as we circle the dairy. It might not be apparent at ground level, but take a drone above, Jowett says, and the runway is obvious. This open-faced tract of land is not where Jowett expected to be making cheese. When he founded King Stone Dairy in 2015, it was on the other side of the Cotswolds near Chipping Norton, just minutes from

the megalithic Rollright Stones after which his flagship cheese is named. But eventually, King Stone Farm’s 160 acres, and the number of cows the land could reasonably support, grew constraining. In 2019 Jowett was tipped off about his current site, just adjacent to the 800-acre Manor Farm. As we walk on to greet some of the farm’s cows—a mix of Friesans, Dairy Shorthorns,




Brown Swiss, Montbéliardes, and Normandies, divided between autumn and spring calving herds—Jowett points out the diverse plants of the organic farm’s herbal leys, the trefoil and blue-petaled chicory. With their long roots, they help to anchor the scant foot of topsoil that coats this ridge of limestone. But more than that, they lend distinct aromatics to the milk, and to the resulting cheese. “A lot of the quality of the soft cheeses is in the make, but for the hard cheeses, it’s in the pasture,” he says. Listening to Jowett, it’s clear that he’s deeply invested in the science and study of cheese. He doesn’t run Manor Farm, but he works so closely with its owner, Seb Clarke, that he can tinker freely with its pastures and processes. This privilege doesn’t just extend to the composition of those herbal leys, or the makeup of the herds. It goes as far as studying individual cows’ family trees – to determine which produce high quantities of a favoured form of casein – and breeding them accordingly. Jowett’s latest project is flavour-mapping the farm’s fields. “From late July to midAugust, we walked to the farm ahead of the cows each morning to help direct them to wherever there were the most floriferous pastures,” he says. He hopes that tracking the quality of the milk from field to field will mean an even greater level of control over the raw material—and of the cheeses it yields. Just 32 years old, Jowett has already dedicated nearly half his life to cheese. At 16, 28


he left school to attend a three-year catering college. He figured his path would lead him into restaurant kitchens, but shortly before he was due to start at Claridge’s, he stumbled into a new opportunity. While working the Saturday shift at Paxton & Whitfield in Stratford-upon-Avon, he met Ram Hall Dairy’s head cheesemaker, Linda Dutch. Ram Hall’s flagship sheep’s cheese Berkswell was one he knew well, and Dutch agreed to let him apprentice at the dairy. Jowett fell for the job in its totality. Not just its meditative quality and vitality, but even the hard labour and the repetitive tasks, like cleaning. Newly assured of his path forward, Jowett registered for a farmhouse cheesemaking course at the School of Artisan Food. He also apprenticed at the Welbeck Estate, which produces Stichelton; at Neal’s Yard Dairy;

A lot of the quality of the soft cheeses is in the make, but for the hard cheeses, it’s in the pasture

and at Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont, one of the US’s largest and most influential artisan cheesemakers. Upon graduating, Jowett founded his own dairy, Jowett Cheese, in Warwickshire, transforming a disused barn into a modern cheesemaking facility. There, he had access to a herd of Montbéliardes, and so decided to make a Comté-style cheese. But that business plan didn’t take into account the cheese’s long ageing requirements. By the time he decided to make young, lactic cheeses to help with the cashflow, it was already too late to keep the dairy afloat. “The experience was a bit bruising,” he admits, but he doesn’t regret the lessons learned. A two-year stint making Camembertstyle cheeses at Gorsehill Abbey Farm in Worcestershire followed before Jowett, now with more experience and more knowledge, founded King Stone Dairy. His first product was Rollright – the only cheese that King Stone Dairy made for the first few years of its existence – and its creation was partly a matter of convenience. The Brown Swiss cows at King Stone Farm were well-suited to the style, and in 2015 there weren’t many British washed-rind cheeses on the market. Then there was Jowett’s longstanding affinity for great mountain cheeses like Vacherin Mont D’Or (as well as newer takes on the style, like Jasper Hill’s Harbison and Winnimere). Perhaps it was also the quest to make something beautiful for beauty’s sake.





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KING STONE DAIRY Rollright – with its spoonable paste, its resonant meatiness and the belt of spruce cambium which cinches it – is an obvious stunner. As we taste it together, Jowett and I note the pronounced flavour in the rind where the spruce layers have overlapped, and the hints of clove, menthol, Christmas, and sarsaparilla they impart. In 2016, Rollright won Supreme Champion at the Artisan Cheese Awards. Many other prizes followed, as highlighted by the dairy’s front window – which now functions as a de facto trophy cabinet. Off the back of that success, the business was able to expand. In autumn 2019, King Stone Dairy moved to its current location, and took on new staff and new equipment as part of the expansion. “We went hell for leather making loads and loads of cheese [at the start of 2020],” says Jowett. “Probably more than we ought to even without the pandemic.” For artisan cheesemakers across the UK, the arrival of COVID-19 was devastating. Cheese production can’t just stop overnight, and every closed restaurant and shop further stifled cashflow. All the while, the cows still needed twice-daily milking, and young, soft cheeses like Rollright ticked quickly towards their expiration dates. Shortly after the first lockdown was announced, Neal’s Yard Dairy “sprang into action,” organising its Save British Cheese box and calling on food-world celebrities like Jamie Oliver and Jenny Linford to promote it. “Without that, we would have been a bit stuck,” says Jowett. But he also took matters into his own hands. “At that point, we pretty much made one cheese. Which is highmoisture, short-shelf-life, quick-ripening. That’s not terribly smart – or not terribly resilient. We decided we ought to make

There’s a common backbone – a character and flavour profile – to our cheese something a bit more durable.” And so Ashcombe was born. Inspired by Morbier, it was firmer and longer-ageing. Soon, others followed: like Moreton, a rustic mountain tomme-style cheese; Evenlode, washed in brine; and Yarlington, washed in cider from celebrated cider-maker Tom Oliver. The newest is Burford, a washed-curd, Appenzeller-inspired cheese that is currently still mid-development, but hopefully ready to release by Christmas. “There’s a common backbone – a character and flavour profile – to our cheeses,” says Jowett. He describes it as warm, milky and savoury; not a single flavour so much as a broad characteristic. Anchoring his varied cheeses in the French mountain tradition also gives them an organising principle and a shared ethos. “We’re focussing and specialising in soft or semi-soft washed or mixed-rind cheeses,” says Jowett. “To make half a dozen of that style I think is quite unusual.” For now, the plan is to continue in that vein. “I think if we started doing a bloomy rind, and a blue, and a cheddar, I think it would water down the quality and consistency of what we’re doing, which is a technically

tight range of cheeses.” That said, King Stone is now on the brink of a great departure. For the first time in the dairy’s history, it will produce a sheep’s milk cheese. After learning that Ram Hall Farm, where his cheesemaking journey began, would be shutting down and taking the much-loved Berkswell with it, Jowett contacted owner Stephen Fletcher. Fletcher planned to take his flock to BlackLion Vodka in the North Cotswolds, where their whey would be used to produce the spirit. But there was still an opportunity for a cheesemaker to buy the milk. The farmer asked if Jowett was interested. “It was an almost immediate ‘yes’ from me,” he says. “There’s probably no one in the British Isles who carries the knowledge and experience of producing world-class sheep’s milk for cheesemaking as Stephen Fletcher.” Jowett is now trialling an Ossau Iraty-style cheese, which will have “a buttery soft, fondant texture, full of warm, nutty, caramel sweet flavours, with a little farmyard musk”. All being well, it will debut next year. Change is also visible elsewhere at King Stone Dairy. As we pick our way across the rubble of a recently demolished barn, Jowett points out the newly divided hard cheese and soft cheese creameries, the former now equipped with vats from Jasper Hill. Soon, a vast new barn will be constructed as a maturing room for hard cheeses. While the dairy currently produces around 50 tonnes of cheese a year, Jowett estimates that its output may soon double. “I hope it’s not too much too soon,” says Jowett, taking a step back to survey the scene. “But it is pretty extraordinary.”






Classics with a difference Consistency may be a key to Parmigiano Reggiano’s global success but, with some 306 producers, there are bound to be some variations between cheeses. PATRICK McGUIGAN explores some lesser-known aspects of terroir.

IF THERE’S ONE cheese the world knows, it’s Parmigiano Reggiano. Italy’s most famous formaggio is exported everywhere from Japan and Australia to Qatar and Brazil, making it one of Europe’s most valuable Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) cheeses. But despite its status as a global brand, there are a surprising number of different styles of the cheese, which fly under the radar. Not every shiny drum of Parmesan is the same. This was made clear from a visit to Ciaolatte in the hills of Borghetto near Parma earlier this year. Set up by Roberto and Afra Paveri in 2000 on the family farm, the company is a pioneer of organic (‘biologico’) Parmesan. Of the 306 dairies that produce Parmigiano Reggiano, only a handful are organic. But the Paveris, who have been joined by their children, Dario, Filippo and Serena, have been working organically for 25 years, partly because of the environmental and animal welfare benefits, but also because they believe it makes better cheese. While many conventional Parmesan makers source milk from multiple farms, Ciaolatte argues that its cheeses have a true sense of place. Their 200-acre farm, which is home to around 300 milking cows, employs a range of organic practices, such as crop rotation using manure as fertiliser to grow ryegrass, mixed grass beds, alfalfa, barley and corn for animal feed. At least 70% of the hay the cows are fed is grown on the family’s land with the other 30% from local organic farms. The stables, where the cows are

housed, are also open on both sides so there is access to grazing pastures. “What the cows eat and where it comes from are the aspects we prioritise in their nutrition,” explains Serena Paveri. “The microbial flora in the hay plays a significant role in the milk. It’s a Parmigiano that fully reflects our local landscape.” A similar idea was behind the creation of a consortium in the early 1990s to protect Parmesan made with milk from Vacche Rosse (Red Cows) – the traditional Reggiana breed that was in danger of extinction. These cows produce a third less milk than high-yielding Friesians found on most farms in the Po Valley, but the protein composition means it makes cheeses that can be aged for longer. Under the terms of the Consorzio Vacche Rosse, which includes 29 farms and just two dairies, the cheeses must be matured for at least 24 months (compared to 12 months for standard Parmesan). The result is a cheese that has a sweet, delicate and persistent flavour, even after all that time in the maturing room. Another scheme to protect the rare-breed Vacca Bianca Modenese (White Cow of Modena) has also been set up by Slow Food. Beyond breed, where Parmigiano Reggiano is made can also influence the final cheese. The PDO production zone includes the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Mantova and Bologna - regions that encompass plains, hills and mountains. These differences in the landscape have a significant impact on cheese, most notably between those made on the plains and in the mountains.

In 2013, a scheme was introduced as part of a wider EU initiative to make these differences clearer with a new sub-brand for Parmigiano Reggiano made at higher elevations: Prodotto di Montagna (Mountain Product). More than 80 dairies, accounting for around 20% of total Parmesan production, are covered by the scheme which is helping to revitalise neglected mountain areas. One of the best known mountain Parmesans is made by Caseificio Sociale San Pietro in a village near Modena in the Apennines. Massimo and Laura Libra make 20 cheeses a day at 2,500ft above sea level as part of a small cooperative. The cheeses are aged to 24 months in the cellars of renowned affineur Giorgio Cravero in Bra, Piedmont, where savoury and brothy notes develop without losing the soft, fruitiness of the cheese’s youth. The flavour profile is hugely popular with overseas customers including Neal’s Yard Dairy in the UK and Essex St. Cheese in the US. On a recent trip to Piedmont with Cheese Journeys – a cheese tour and travel company - Cravero explains that working closely with small dairies, whose cheeses reflect their local landscape, was key to his success. “Where cheese is made is so important,” he says. “The natural flora, the absence of pollution, the altitude, the soil and the grasses in the mountains are vital for making creamy milk and creamy cheese. We select our cheeses by terroir.” There’s Parmesan and then there’s Parmesan. GOOD CHEESE 2023-24


There’s a beer for that… While eating cheese with a beer is not a new phenomenon, there is surely scope to discover some more pairings. With that in mind, PATRICK McGUIGAN assembled a knowledgable team of tasters at Reading’s cheese & beer specialist The Grumpy Goat to seek new matches. Photography by Isabelle Plasschaert

“FERMENTED FRIENDS THAT just get on really well together.” That’s how AnneMarie Beatty of The Grumpy Goat describes the relationship between cheese and beer. She should know. Her shop and bar in Reading, Berkshire, which she runs with her wife Charlie, is dedicated to both – with hundreds of beers and cheeses to choose from. To explore fermentation relations a little further we’ve assembled a team of beer and cheese experts to put the theory to test. It’s an experiment that involves bringing together lots of products at the Beattys’ well-stocked shop and methodically tasting through them to find 10 incredible pairings. Before we start pouring and slicing, however, we kick off with a chat about why beer and cheese rub along so well together and what we’re looking for in a match. “There’s a theory that they have a

natural affinity because both begin with grain,” says Claire Bullen. “Cows eat grass and beer is made from grain. What’s definitely true is that beer is less tannic and astringent than wine, and it has carbonation that has a refreshing, scrubby effect. It cuts through the richness of cheese.” Anne-Marie also picks up on beer’s merits as a partner for cheese over wine. “Beer is more accessible than wine,” she says. “There is such a wide range of price points. You don’t need a lot of money to buy a fantastic beer. And there are more expressions of beer than wine. Brewers are experimenting further and further. There are a huge range of styles and flavours, and strengths from less than 3% ABV to over 15% – delicate through to powerful, which matches what you find in cheese.” Jonathan Pearcey sees similar experientialism in cheese. “There are lots of

new cheeses being launched in the UK and the two industries are growing in interesting directions together. We’ve always eaten cheese and drunk beer together in Britain, but maybe never really thought about matching them. It’s something that naturally just went together, but I think with all these new styles in both areas there’s more that can be done.” The secret of finding a perfect pairing, says Charlie Beatty, is to find flavours that contrast or complement each other. “It’s about bringing out something in the cheese or the beer, or both. If you think about the flavours in beer and the flavours in cheese, there is huge overlap – farmyard, lactic, caramel, buttery, fruity.” Michael Lane sums it up in forthright terms before tasting commences: “Beer always deserves a salty snack and what better salty snack is there than cheese?”

Charlie Beatty co-owner, The Grumpy Goat

Jonathan Pearcey, owner, The Crafty Cheese Man – a cheese wholesale business in Lancashire


Patrick McGuigan journalist and cheese expert, chaired the discussion


Anne-Marie Beatty co-owner, The Grumpy Goat – a cheese & beer shop and bar in Reading


Claire Bullen, food & drinks writer and author, and former editor of Good Beer Hunting

Michael Lane, editor of Good Cheese and Fine Food Digest

PAIRINGS WITH BEER Protégé Dolphin Brewery, Berkshire Sour, ABV 6.3% Pecorino Fresco Sardinia, Italy Raw sheep’s milk. Semi-hard A slightly left-field beverage to kick things off, which ironically proves tricky to match (after the general consensus that cheese and beer are perfect partners). Protégé is a sour beer, fermented with pinot noir grape skins and raspberries, which provide interesting fruity flavours and

wine-like tannins. The tannins prove too much for White Nancy, a goats’ cheese from White Lake in Somerset, while the saltiness of Feta seems to flatten the fruitiness of the beer. The answer is a young, semi-soft Italian Pecorino. “The winey sweetness of the beer blends in with the sweetness in the Pecorino,” says Pearcey, while Bullen detects brown butter and savoury notes in the cheese when eaten with the beer. “The beer elevates the cheese and drags it up to another level,” she says. “It takes an okay cheese and makes it a lot better.”

Saaz Pilsner Stardust, Berkshire, England Lager, 4.5% Kirkham’s Lancashire Kirkham’s, Lancashire, England Raw cows’ milk. Crumbly. After an unsuccessful pairing with brie (too much sourness), a Pilsner lager finds its soulmate in the form of crumbly, buttery Saison Dupont Brasserie Dupont, Hainaut, Belgium Saison, 6.5% 18-month Comté Fort St Antoine, Jura, France Raw cows’ milk. Hard cooked. The room really comes alive with the next match, which might partly be because our experts are now a few beers in. While Lancashire and lager are good friends, Comté and Saison plunge headlong into an intense love affair. “The word ‘boom!’ comes to mind,” says Charlie with a big smile. “They really add to

Kirkham’s Lancashire. The clean, crisp beer dovetails with the tangy cheese in an easy way. “This elevates the butteriness of the cheese, making it extra rich,” says Anne-Marie. “It also brings out a nice hay note in the cheese and the bitterness frames the cheese, adding backbone.” Lane agrees. “This is a winner. The bubbles in the lager are really refreshing.” each other, emphasising a lot of the flavours that are similar in both.” Those flavours include sweet roasted almond notes in the cheese, which are amplified by the beer. “The cheese and the beer go backward and forward, each taking turns and coaxing different flavours from each other,” says Bullen. Lane sees it as a pairing for the ages. “This is a coming together of two genre classics. They’re both defining examples of their respective styles. It’s like they were made for each other. I don’t think Comté has ever tasted so sweet.”

Beer is less tannic and astringent than wine, and it has carbonation that has a refreshing, scrubby effect. It cuts through the richness of cheese. Claire Bullen, food & drink writer GOOD CHEESE 2023-24




PAIRINGS WITH BEER Soup IPA Garage Beer Co, Catalonia, Spain New England IPA, 6% Witheridge Nettlebed Creamery, Oxfordshire, England Pasteurised cows’ milk. Semi-hard. A hop bomb of a beer has everyone round the table purring. Cloudy with an almost chewy texture, Soup IPA bursts with tropical fruit notes. It works well with Montgomery’s cheddar – the fruit contrasting nicely with the savoury cheese. But even

Good Old Boy Renegade Brewery, Berkshire, England Bitter, 4% Sparkenhoe Red Leicester Leicestershire Handmade Cheese Co, Leicestershire, England Raw cows’ milk. Hard. A classic British match. Savoury, peanutty Red Leicester with the sweet, floral hit of Best Bitter is about as traditional as it gets, and our experts can’t get

enough, picking out caramel and mellow nuttiness from both. “This is so harmonious and comforting,” says Anne-Marie. “It just works.” The order in which they are consumed also seems to make a difference. “If you eat the cheese before the beer, you get a lot more of those nutty, caramel notes,” says Charlie. “But the other way round there are more grassy, earthy notes.” “This is so completely and utterly satisfying,” concludes Bullen. Duchesse de Bourgogne Brouwerij Verhaeghe, West Flanders, Belgium Red ale, 6.2% 24-month Parmigiano Reggiano Emilia Romagna, Italy Raw cows’ milk. Hard cooked. “This beer smells of posh pickled onions,” declares Pearcey with a look of surprise. Duchesse de Bourgogne, a Belgian red ale, does indeed have a Balsamic sharpness as well as remarkable layers of

Kriek Boon Brewery Boon, Flemish Brabant, Belgium Cherry lambic, 4% Sinodun Hill Norton & Yarrow, Oxfordshire Pasteurised goats’ milk. Soft, yeastripened. The bright cherry notes of a Belgian lambic would seem well placed to work with a creamy soft goat’s cheese, and so it proves. The two come together like cherry yoghurt.

better is a slice of Witheridge – a springy cows’ milk cheese from Oxfordshire that is coated in hay. Pearcey loves the way the beer brings out the hay notes in the cheese, while Charlie adds that it makes the cheese taste more savoury, but also uncovers a dairy sweetness. “The beer teases out a lovely milky and caramel note, but also lots of earth undergrowth. It’s a match that is sweet and funky and warming all at the same time.” Lane is happy just to drink the beer on its own. “It’s got such a great texture. It doesn’t need cheese. It stands alone.”

sweet, fruit notes. It finds its true love at the first time of trying. A hunk of two-year-old Parmesan is the perfect foil, bringing a combination of umami and pineapple, and a level of intensity that meets the beer head on. “This is like aged balsamic drizzled on Parmesan,” says Bullen. “Sweet and sour and savoury all at the same time.” Charlie agrees wholeheartedly. “The cheese is like seasoning for the beer, bringing out more of those sweet and fruity notes. It definitely uncovers something different in the beer.”

“Sometimes you think something will work on paper, but it doesn’t in real life,” says Anne-Marie. “But this is one that I thought would work in my head and it completely delivers.” Pearcey is nodding vehemently. “This is one of the best Sinoduns I’ve ever tried. It has such a lovely breakdown and is so creamy and rich. Then you get a Bakewell tart sweetness from the cherry beer. It’s like the cheese and beer equivalent of a Müller Corner, and I love a Müller Corner.”



PAIRINGS WITH BEER Celebrator Ayinger Brewery, Bavaria, Germany Dopplebock, 6.7% Reypenaer VSOP Gouda Wijngaard Kaas, Utrecht, Netherlands Pasteurised cows’ milk. Hard. Everybody goes quiet when they start nibbling an intensely aromatic Gouda with the dark, malty German Dopplebock. The silence is swiftly followed by happy sighs and even a few

cheerful expletives. “You’ve got a massively powerful cheese with a massively powerful beer and they really balance each other in a fantastic way,” says Lane. “There’s roasty, dark molasses and liquorice notes in the beer, which blend in with the caramel and butterscotch notes of the Gouda. Wow!” Charlie adds that the beer elevates the cheese in a really pleasing way. “I sometimes get a chemical flavour with Gouda, but there is none of that with the beer. It’s just pure harmony.”

It Ain’t Easy Being Cheesy Farm Yard Brew Co, Lancashire, England Imperial stout, 9.5% Maida Vale Village Maid Dairy, Berkshire Thermised cows’ milk. Soft, washed rind. A beer and cheese that have personal significance to some of our experts. The Grumpy Goat’s owners have long worked with the Wigmore family, which make Maida Vale, and recommended the cheesemakers use an IPA from local brewery Siren Craft Brew to wash the rind of Maida Vale. Jonathan Pearcey worked

If you think about the flavours in beer and the flavours in cheese, there is huge overlap – farmyard, lactic, caramel, buttery, fruity. Charlie Beatty, The Grumpy Goat

Maiden 2022 Siren Craft Brew, Berkshire Barley Wine, 10% Barkham Blue Two Hoots, Berkashire Pasteurised cows’ milk, Soft, blue. Another rich and warming match to finish the tasting. Maiden is a blend of barley wines, aged in a variety of different barrels used for everything from Bourbon to Cognac. The final result is a powerful ale full of fruitcake,



spicy wood and a vanilla caramel sweetness. It was too much for Maida Vale, overpowering the yeasty rind, but Barkham Blue – an equally rich and mellow blue made with golden Channel Island milk – was just the ticket. “There is a meeting of minds with these two,” says Anne Marie. “A meeting of intensity and power.” Bullen agrees: “The sweetness and salt in the blue brings out the sweetness in the beer and takes away the hot, fiery notes. What a great way to finish.”

with a local brewery to develop a beer designed to go with a wide range of cheeses. The result was It Ain’t Easy Being Cheesy, an Imperial Stout made with demerara sugar and aged in Rioja barrels for six months. The two together are an instant hit. The velvety texture and malty kick of the cheese is turbo-boosted by the hit of cherry, plums and leather from the beer. “It really amps up that washed rind with lots of salty, smoked bacon notes from the cheese,” says Lane. “It makes the cheese meatier and more savoury in a really rounded and warming way. What a great match for winter.”

THE TOP 5 At the end of the tasting our experts list their favourite beers in order of preference to work out our top 5 matches and the overall winner. 1.

2. 3. 4.


Celebrator Doppplebock + Reypenaer VSOP Gouda (WINNER) Saison Dupont + 18-month Comté Soup IPA + Witheridge hay-coated cheese Kriek Boon cherry lambic + Sinodun Hill goats’ cheese Duchesse de Bourgogne red ale + 24-month Parmigiano Reggiano

Cavern Aged Welsh Cheddar with Leek

Cavern Aged Welsh Cheddar

Cavern Aged Welsh Cheddar with Penderyn Whisky

Cavern Aged Welsh Red

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Up your board game From chutney and crackers to cider and lemon curd, there are enough accompaniments out there for you to make your cheeseboard as classic – or as extravagant – as you like. Hive Mind’s Whisky barrel aged mead spends at least nine months in oak barrels, imparting notes of caramel, vanilla, and unsurprisingly, oak. The barrels lend colour, aroma and both a honey sweetness and a hint of whisky warmth, with a smoky finish. Pair with a sharp aged cheddar, as bold and nutty flavours will provide a pleasant contrast to the barrels, or a creamy blue, whose tangy, funky notes will balance out the sweetness. RRP £30.

The chilli jams in South Devon Chilli Farm’s gift set are graded according to their heat level. The original Chilli Jam is made with sweet peppers, while the Hot Chilli Jam has own-grown Hungarian Hot Wax and Habaneros added. The Extreme Chilli Jam, the producer stresses, isn’t as hot as some of the other items in the range, but still packs a punch. It has dried and fresh Bhut Jolokia chillies in it, as well as green peppers, onion, lemon puree and sugar. RRP £4.35 per 250g jar, £15 for the gift pack of three.

Snowdonia Cheese Company says its range of crackers are the perfect pairing for cheese. The Wholemeal & Extra Virgin Olive Oil ones go well with extra mature cheddar, while the Spelt & Natural Yoghurt crackers would be well matched to a Red Leicester. The Fig & Cranberry ones would go well with vintage cheddar, a creamy blue or a sweet, nutty Gruyère. All have an RRP of £3.50.

Luxembourg cider producer Cider is Wine thinks its Ramborn Garden Quince 2021 is the perfect match for a fine, fresh goat’s cheese. Made from 100% fresh-pressed quince fruit, it is slightly sparkling, with aromatic dill on the nose and off-dry on the palate, balanced with a twist of tannin and acidity. The 6% alcohol drink has half the ABV of a bottle of wine – though by the producer’s account, it is dangerously quaffable. RRP £25.

Vinegar producer Burren Balsamics has so much faith in the cheese and balsamic pairing that it is selling a Cheese Essentials Hamper dedicated to it. Inside are miniatures of its flagship vinegar, The Balsamic; Blackberry & Thyme Pearls; White Balsamic jelly & Black Balsamic jelly ; Spiced Apple Chutney and Roast Onion Jam. Plus, an artisan dipping bowl, an Irish oakwood serving board, and Burren’s Proper Digestive Biscuits. RRP £65.

Easton Chilli’s Great Taste 3-star winning Black Garlic Chilli Jam is a blend of sweet, caramel and garlic flavours which it says make it the perfect accompaniment for cheese. Made with aged black garlic, white garlic, brown sugar, balsamic & cider vinegars and fermented birds eye chillis, this could just as well sit on a cheeseboard or be slathered into a toastie, pairing particularly well, the producer says, with extra mature cheddars or strong blues. RRP £5.50 per 190g jar. GOOD CHEESE 2023-24



As the exclusive importer of French cutlery maker Laguiole, Provençal food specialist Tariette offers gift sets which include a cheese knife and an olive wood chopping board, starting at £30 RRP.

Fionagh’s Original Sourdough Crackers were developed by founder Fionagh Harding in collaboration with some of the old team at Peter’s Yard. Handmade in small batches at Norton Barton farm, the crackers are made with a sourdough mother which is specially fed and fermented, rye flour, rapeseed oil and sea salt. The producer says they’re great for hampers and Christmas nibbles, pairing perfectly with a selection of cheeses and chutneys. RRP £2.85 per 100g box.

New Forest Shortbread has added Rosemary leaves to All Butter Original dough, making a shortbread it reckons is as lovely with cheese as it is with fruit curds. The producer earned a 2-star Great Taste distinction for its “rich buttery aroma,” and “spot on” texture and mouthfeel. This will pair well with the citrus tang of lactic cheese, topped with a drizzle of honey, or Manchego.

The Saucy Sisters has not one but three chilli jams it says are well matched with a variety of cheeses. The Red Habanero & Juniper Chilli one, with either an aged or a Hafod Cheddar; the Orange Zest & Coriander Seed jam with Parmigiano Reggiano or Montgomery’s Cheddar and the Pineapple & Szechuan Peppercorn one with a classic, or a Holis Mead Benville brie. RRP £4.50 per 200g jar, £12.50 for The Saucy Trio. For those of us who like to have a few chutneys on the go at any time – and rarely finish a big jar of it, Galloway Lodge has launched ½ size jars of its Perfect for Cheese range. Most popular among them is the Spicy Pear, where the sweetness from the fruit is balanced with sharp cayenne pepper, making it an ideal match to blue cheeses. Other products include Poacher’s Pickle, Rhubarb Chutney, Chilli Jam and Fig Chutney. RRP between £2.50 and £3.

Easybean’s chickpea crispbreads with Seeds & Black Pepper have recently been given a refresh to remind us that they are a handcrafted, premium, artisan product. Made in Somerset using farmhouse butter, organic buttermilk and chickpea flour, the gluten-free crackers are topped with crunchy seeds which provide a textural contrast to any choice of cheese. RRP £4.10 per 110g pack of six. 42


Stroud Brewery says beer and cheese are a match made in heaven. For its Budding Pale Ale (RRP £14 per pack of 4, 440ml cans) a 4.5% ABV blond beer with bready sweetness and pleasant citrus notes, it suggests Bagborough Brie, a mild and distinctly creamy cheese made with pasteurised Guernsey Milk. To go with its Tom Long Amber Ale (which also has an RRP of £14 per 4), with its light caramel malt flavour enhanced by a complex citrus and spicy taste, it suggests Kingstone Dairy’s Ashcombe Blue, a mild nutty cheese with a hint of mushroom from the rind.

Italian food producer Savinese says its Soft Bar for Cheese is unique in the accompaniments category. It marries sweet fresh figs and honey with crisp, toasted nuts, with an addition of tartness from the cedro and candied orange and warmth from a blend of spices. These sweet, crunchy, and citrusy notes, it says, harmonise well with blue and aged cheeses. RRP £7.90.

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Are goats the way to prosperity? Bangladesh is not a nation known for its cheese but a burgeoning charitable project to create a commercially viable goats’ cheese could change that reputation, not to mention the lives of the rural population. MD. ABUL HUSSAIN reports. Photography by Shuhan Ahmed Jony

IF YOU ASKED someone to guess where the most expensive cheese in world came from, the answer probably wouldn’t be Bangladesh. But this country – better known as one of the globe’s biggest textile exporters – could soon take that title, if a project set up by a Londonbased entrepreneur and local cheesemakers is successful. Aside from its eye-catchingly specific price tag of £1,136/kg, the Shaheda Goats’ Cheese could introduce a completely new industry in Bangladesh and boost the incomes of its poorest rural communities. Shaheda is the brainchild of Yasmin Choudhury CEO of Lovedesh, a British luxury retail brand that sells ethically sourced fashion and fine food. Inspired by her late father’s philanthropic work in Bangladesh, Yasmin set up the business in 2012 to work with artisans to help protect their heritage skills. This new cheese project has a good deal of personal significance, too. It is named after her nowdeparted cousin, who had taught her to cook on family visits to Bangladesh. Meanwhile, the price of the cheese mirrors the number of garment workers (1,136), who died during the infamous Rana Plaza building collapse in 2013. Since 2019, Yasmin has been working with local cheesemakers and goat herders to create Shaheda. “When I first started my goats’ cheese idea, the villagers were incredulous that such a cheese was possible. Goats are herded only for slaughter out here – and often its meat is more expensive than beef.” Options for cheese-lovers in Bangladesh are few and far between. In a hot, humid

country with six seasons, it is traditionally a struggle to produce it at home and soft varieties can spoil quickly. Now that grocery retail chains (Shwapno, Agora) are commonly found in Bangladesh, due to a burgeoning and rapidly increasing middle class, a variety of cheeses (some foreign and processed) is available. Industrial mozzarella and cheese slices for burgers are made by several companies but desserts, such as Mishti made with cottage cheese, remain the most common form of cheese consumption. There are some artisanal varieties, such as the Fetalike Dhaka Ponir and the soft salty Austagram, but nothing like Shaheda. With 91% of the population being Muslim, this is a meat-loving nation that has overlooked goats’ cheese, with many choosing the animal as their option for sacrificing during the Eid Ul Adha holiday. A goat will, on average, cost more than £40 – and these are often reared not for the milk, but for breeding and selling.

The villagers were incredulous that such a cheese was possible. Goats are herded only for slaughter out here

The Lovedesh cheese is made from pasteurised organic goats’ milk, hand-milked from grass-fed goats and then coagulated via heat and acidic juice of organic lemons from the lush tea region of Sri Mangal. The separated whey and curds are later strained and then the cheese is left to set in handwoven muslin cheese cloth overnight. The semi soft curds are later shaped and rolled by hand. The cheese is surface-ripened and dusted in various experimental finishes using iodised salt, ash and spices such as turmeric, cumin and chill flakes. The leftover whey protein is going to be donated by Lovedesh, to help subsidise the diets of rural villagers. In keeping with Lovedesh’s mantra Yasmin Choudhury tells Good Cheese she wants this to be a cheese that is kind to both people and planet. “By targeting folks fighting critical poverty, thanks to our strict ethical supply chain, I am trying to double the wages of cheesemakers. It will also create new jobs for destitute rural villagers, especially those in need of rehabilitation after a life working as machinists in frantic fast fashion factories.” The problem now is getting Lovedesh Shaheda Cheese to market. Yasmin explains she does not have the resources to do this on her own and says dealing with the red tape to import the cheese into the UK has been a “nightmare”. While reluctant to borrow or seek outside investment that could compromise her ethics, she is seeking to obtain pre-orders from cheese-lovers and philanthropists to kickstart and upscale the project. Whether this pioneering cheese will be tasted beyond Bangladesh remains to be seen. Given that Choudhury has already made it this far, it could well be gracing the global stage (and making the lives of many rural Bangladeshis) soon.






Find a UK cheese counter near you EAST ANGLIA CAMBRIDGESHIRE C A Leech & Son Royston The Gog Cambridge The Larder at Burwash Manor Cambridge ESSEX H. Gunton Colchester NORFOLK Jarrold Norwich

Brindisa Balham & Borough Market Buchanan’s Cheesemonger St George’s Fields buchanans Cheese at Leadenhall City of London Culver + Nelson Richmond Fortnum & Mason Piccadilly

Laura’s Larder Orpington

The Fine Cheese Co. Belgravia

MacFarlane’s Fromagerie & Fine Foods Clapham

The Larder Deli Ladywell

Panzer’s Delicatessen St John’s Wood Parson’s Nose Fulham Partridges Chelsea

Giacobazzi’s Delicatessen Hampstead

Paxton & Whitfield Piccadilly & Chelsea

Gladwell’s Camberwell

PDO Shop Crouch End

The Cheese Hole Bury St Edmunds

Hamish Johnston Clapham


H G Walter Barons Court

Prezzemolo & Vitale Borough Market, Chelsea, Notting Hill, & Wimbledon

SUFFOLK Friday Street Farm Shop Saxmundham

Bayley & Sage Battersea, Belgravia, Chelsea, Chiswick, Clapham Junction, Fulham, Parson’s Green, Wandsworth & Wimbledon Village

Jeroboams Holland Park La Fromagerie Bloomsbury, Highbury & Marylebone

Scandi Kitchen Fitzrovia Scotch Meats Dulwich The De Beauvoir Deli Company Hackney

The Real Cheese Shop Barnes

MIDLANDS DERBYSHIRE Croots Farm Shop Duffield LEICESTERSHIRE Dominic at David North Delicatessen Rothley Farndon Fields Farm Shop Market Harborough Just So Italian Market Harborough The Melton Cheeseboard Melton Mowbray LINCOLNSHIRE Rennet & Rind Stamford The Cheese Society Lincoln




NOTTINGHAMSHIRE Delilah Fine Foods Nottingham SHROPSHIRE Apley Farm Shop Shifnal Broad Bean Ludlow Ludlow Farmshop Ludlow STAFFORDSHIRE Perrys of Eccleshall Stafford WARWICKSHIRE Aubrey Allen Leamington Spa Cheese on the Green Rugby Cobbs at The Farm Stratford-upon-Avon Stratford Garden Centre Stratford Upon Avon WORCESTERSHIRE Load Street Deli Bewdley

THE NORTH CHESHIRE Godfrey C. Williams & Son Sandbach The Cheese Yard Knutsford The Lambing Shed Farm Shop & Café Knutsford Cuddington Stores Northwich CUMBRIA Cranstons Quality Butchers Brampton, Carlisle, Orton Grange & Penrith 48


Low Sizergh Barn Farm Shop Kendal The Cheese Delicatessen Keswick Keswick The Chopping Block Penrith thechoppingblock EAST RIDING OF YORKSHIRE

The Deli at no 85 Skelton-in-Cleveland The Whitby Deli Whitby Town End Farm Shop Skipton NORTHUMBERLAND Tully’s of Rothbury Rothbury

Drewton’s Near Brough

TYNE & WEAR The Blagdon Farm Shop Newcastle-upon-Tyne

The Pickled Fig Hessle

The Deli Around the Corner North Shields

GREATER MANCHESTER Albion Farm Shop Oldham

WEST YORKSHIRE Blacker Hall Farm Shop Wakefield

Chorlton Cheesemongers Chorlton

Cryer & Stott Cheesemongers Castleford & Pontefract

The Cheese Hamlet Didsbury

Craggies Farm Shop Hebden Bridge

MERSEYSIDE Gillions of Crosby Crosby

Farmer Copleys Pontefract

Birkdale Cheese Centre Southport NORTH YORKSHIRE Field and Fawcett York Fodder Harrogate Hunters of Helmsley Helmsley Lewis & Cooper Northallerton The Cheeseboard - Harrogate Harrogate The Courtyard Dairy Settle

George & Joseph Cheesemongers Leeds Hinchliffe’s Farm Shop Netherton, Huddersfield The Artisan Cheese Company Wetherby

SOUTH EAST BERKSHIRE Cheese Etc – The Pangbourne Cheese Shop Pangbourne, Reading Cobbs Farm Shop & Kitchen Hungerford & Englefield Tastes Delicatessen Windsor

The Grumpy Goat Reading BUCKINGHAMSHIRE Hogshaw Farm & Wildlife Park Buckingham No. 2 Pound Street Wendover The Farm Deli Milton Keynes EAST SUSSEX Cheese Please Lewes Eggs To Apples Farm Shop Etchingham Shearer’s Fine Foods Forest Row The Seasons Whole Foods Forest Row & Lewes HAMPSHIRE Cobbs Farm Shop & Kitchen Winchester Hockey’s Farm Shop Fordingbridge Mange2 Deli Alresford Thyme & Tides Stockbridge Wellington Farm Shop Hook HERTFORDSHIRE Bury Lane Farm Shop Royston French & Day Delicatessen Ware Halsey’s Deli Hitchin The Fleetville Larder St Albans

Pasture fed, single herd organic cheese from our farmhouse dairy in Cumbria


GREAT TASTING CHEESE FROM FIFE “utterly delicious”… “very moreish cheese’’ …“deeply satisfying’’… “outstanding’’

Importers & Wholesalers French & Continental Cheeses


01333 312580 GOOD CHEESE 2023-24


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Cornish Blue animal rennet is back




The Honest Fig Royston KENT Falconhurst Edenbridge Holwood Farm Shop Keston Macknade Fine Foods Ashford & Faversham The Cheese Shop Tunbridge Wells OXFORDSHIRE Pavillion Foods Henley-on-Thams The Granary Delicatessen Watlington SURREY Ferma Farm Shop & Bistro Woking

DEVON Johns of Instow and Appledore Instow The Ashburton Delicatessen Ashburton

DORSET Trencherman’s of Dorset Sherborne

Bloomfields Fine Food Highworth, Swindon & Shrivenham, Swindon

SCOTTISH BORDERS The Country Kitchen Deli Roxburghshire

GLOUCESTERSHIRE Forest Deli Coleford

Compton McRae Semley

The Mainstreet Trading Company Melrose

Mauls Wine & Cheese Bar Salisbury

STIRLING Deli Ecosse Callander

Melanie’s Kitchen Downend, nr Bristol melskitchendownend/ Miss Muffet’s Delicatessen Tewkesbury Teddington Stores Teddington

Priory Farm Estate Redhill

The Cotswold Cheese Co. Moreton-in-Marsh & Stow-on-the-Wold

Pallant of Arundel Arundel Rushfields Farm Shop Brighton The Hungry Guest Chichester & Petworth

SOUTH WEST CORNWALL Bellinis Deli Kitchen Bude

Provender Brown Perth

WILTSHIRE Allington Farm Shop Chippenham

The Cheeseworks Cheltenham

WEST SUSSEX Cowdray Farm Shop Midhurst

The Fine Cheese Co. Bath

PERTH & KINROSS Hansen’s Kitchen Crieff

Wildmoor Fine Food & Drink Bovey Tracey

Green and Loveley East Molesey

Secretts Farm Shop Milford, Godalming

The Bristol Cheesemonger Bristol

SOMERSET Buffalicious Yeovil Durslade Farm Shop Bruton Flourish at Glenavon Farm Saltford, Bristol Paxton & Whitfield Bath Queen Street Delicatessen Wells

Three Trees Farm Shop Swindon Walter Rose & Son Devizes

SCOTLAND ABERDEENSHIRE Food for Thought Turriff DUMFRIES & GALLOWAY The Dumfries Larder Dumfries

The House of Bruar Pitlochry

WESTERN ISLES The Good Food Boutique Stornoway

NORTHERN IRELAND ANTRIM Arcadia Delicatessen Belfast ARMAGH Yellow Door Deli Craigavon DOWN McCartney’s of Moira Craigavon

EAST LOTHIAN The Cheese Lady Haddington


EDINBURGH Craigie’s Farm South Queensferry

CEREDIGION Ultracomida Aberystwyth & Narberth

FIFE Elie Deli Leven

DENBIGHSHIRE Rhug Organic Farm Corwen

HIGHLANDS The Cheese Neuk Kingussie

GLAMORGAN Wally’s Delicatessen Cardiff

West Coast Deli Ullapool

GWYNEDD Blas Ar Fwyd Cyf Llanrwst GOOD CHEESE 2023-24


CRAFTED IN SOMERSET SINCE 1833 Cheddar that is powerfully intense and complex with an exceptional depth of flavour. The slightly brittle and sometimes crunchy texture is a natural result of its long and slow ageing.




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