The Chairman of the British Cheese Awards' suggestions for your Christmas cheeseboard
PUBLISHED: 15:00 20 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:00 20 November 2018
Three of the eight cheeses Julius Longman suggests are from Somerset!
Christmas is a time to relax and enjoy some delicious food and one of the most traditional parts of this, after the roasted turkey and the plum pudding, is the cheeseboard. To help give some pointers to some delicious British cheeses to enjoy on the December 25, as well as throughout the festive season, Julius Longman, the new chairman of the British Cheese Awards, gives us his top selection
Julius Longman says, “For my Christmas cheeseboard I’ve picked a selection of award-winning cheeses from the British Cheese Awards for my friends and family to savour. We’re extremely lucky here in the UK to have such a vibrant and superb cheesemaking industry and I’ve chosen a range of different styles and flavours to enjoy.
“I’d enjoy all of these cheeses on Christmas day with a glass of Tawny Port or Sloe Gin.”
Sheep Rustler (Thermised ewes’ milk/vegetarian rennet)
Supreme Champion at the 2018 British Cheese Awards
Made using thermised ewes’ milk, then aged for around three months, the result is a semi-hard cheese with a medium, mellow flavour that is slightly nutty with a hint of caramel. It is made at White Lake Cheese Ltd., Somerset, and got its name from one of the cheesemakers, Russell, who made the first batch.
Montgomery’s Cheddar (Unpasteurised cows’ milk, traditional rennet)
Reserve Champion at the 2018 British Cheese Awards
This cheese is made with skill and care, aged in cloth and stripped after a long maturing process. It’s golden and glorious, with a nutty, complex, deep flavour. The Montgomery family has farmed in South Somerset for three generations and today the cheese is made by Jamie Montgomery. Cheese has been made at the farm since before Jamie’s grandfather retired there in 1911. Montgomery’s Cheddar has a huge reputation that Jamie has built up over the years, by his close attention to detail that lead to a superb Cheddar. It’s just such a fantastic cheese.
Duckett’s Caerphilly (Unpasteurised cows’ milk, traditional rennet)
Best English Cheese at the 2018 British Cheese Awards
This is made by Westcombe Dairy. They make their Caerphilly alongside their Cheddar, using the same beautiful unpasteurised milk. They call it ‘Duckett’s’ in honour of Chris Duckett, from whom they acquired this cheese. One only has to taste Duckett’s Caerphilly to understand why they wanted to continue making it. It has a lovely fresh taste with a clean lactic tang, followed by bright flavours of fresh grass, raw mushroom and citrus. Firm, but soft and springy, it has a lightness and delicacy that is the perfect foil to the richness of their Cheddar.
Celtic Promise (Unpasteurised cows’ milk, vegetarian rennet)
Best Welsh Cheese at the 2018 British Cheese Awards
An award-winning, Caerphilly style, washed-rind cheese handmade by John Savage of Teifi Farmhouse Cheese in Ceredigion, Wales. After the cheese is made it is matured at Eastside in East Sussex by Pat Jackson. As it is handmade, each batch varies slightly from the next. A semi-soft cheese, it is shaped like a dumpling and has a fat content of 48%.
Bix (Unpasteurised cows’ milk, traditional rennet)
Best Soft White Cheese at the 2018 British Cheese Awards
Nettlebed Creamery makes two unpasteurised cheeses using certified organic milk from Merrimoles Farm that spans the Oxfordshire villages of Nettlebed and Bix. The farm has been organic since 2001 and its healthy, robust herd comprises of a three-way cross of Montbéliarde, Swedish Red and Holstein Friesian cows. The cows graze on grass and clover leys with additional herbs such as chicory, plantain and yarrow. The quality of the milk and the terroir of the farm is expressed wonderfully in the cheeses. Bix is a soft, unpasteurised, triple cream cheese, named after the village where the herd grazes. The recipe is loosely based on that of a Chaource, a luxuriant white-rind cheese from Champagne country in northern France.
Colston Bassett Stilton (Pasteurised cows’ milk, traditional rennet)
Best PGO/PGI Cheese at the 2018 British Cheese Awards
Colston Bassett Stilton is one of the smallest dairies in the United Kingdom. They make their pasteurised cow’s milk Stilton the traditional way using hand-ladled curd and animal rennet, not to be found at any other Stilton maker. Thus, the texture of Colston Bassett Stilton is more luscious, creamy and full-bodied and the flavour, more complex and deeper than any other cheese produced with vegetable rennet. It has a close, creamy texture with pale, ivory paste that edges onto amber as it gets close to the rind and a homogeneous distribution of blue coloured veins. The wrinkly rind is slightly sticky, orange-brown in colour, speckled with patches of white mould. Flavourwise, Colston Bassett Stilton is earthy and lactic, balanced by the richness of blue mould and butter. When young, it tends to be slightly tangy, but this will disappear as the cheese matures.
The Merry Wyfe (Pasteurised cows’ milk, vegetarian rennet)
Best Packaging Award at the 2018 British Cheese Awards
The latest cheese from Graham Padfield of Park Farm, near Bath, is this washed rind cheese based on Wyfe Of Bath. Unlike that cheese, however, this one is pressed after making to remove moisture and create a more dense texture. The maturing cheese is then repeatedly washed in cider made on the farm. The result is a very pungent, sticky-rinded and very colourful cheese.
Blacksticks Blue (Pasteurised cows’ milk, vegetarian rennet)
Bright like the early morning sun, creamy in texture with just enough blue bite to tingle your taste buds and keep you coming back for more! Blacksticks Blue is the original contemporary farmhouse blue cheese. It burst onto the scene in 2004 unlike anything else in the blue cheese arena, the product of amazing skill and incomparable cheesemaking passion. Made with love, using traditional handmade methods at the Lancashire family dairy with the rich milk produced by the herds from just over the road. It is crafted in open vats, then poured into individual moulds, turned by hand and matured under the watchful eyes of their cheesemakers.
This year’s British Cheese Awards celebrated its 25th birthday and the competition attracted over 1,000 entries from 147 makers, with 77 judges reviewing 123 classes of cheese. Cheeses entered came from over 54 counties that covered the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland, showing just how vibrant the British Cheese Industry is today.
The British Cheese Awards 2019 takes place on Wednesday May 29, 2019 at the Royal Bath and West Show (May 29-June 1) at the Bath and West Showground, Shepton Mallet. For more information, visit britishcheeseawards.com.