This month our selection focuses on the importance of time we spend on the road selecting the cheese we want to mature and sell. Two of the cheeses come from farms we visit on our monthly ‘Northern Run’: Berkswell in the West Midlands, Kirkham’s Lancashire in north Lancashire. There are two goat’s cheeses included as we ease into the peak production season: Innes Log from Staffordshire and Cardo from Somerset. These cheesemakers, Joe Bennet and Mary Holbrook respectively, both drive to London to visit us at our maturing arches and deliver their cheese each week. This commitment to direct communication between the maker, the maturer and the seller is integral to the way that we work. The relationships we have with the cheesemakers enable us to work together to continually improve the cheese we sell to you.
Made by Graham Kirkham, in Lancashire. Raw cow’s milk, animal rennet.
Having featured the mature version of this cheese in April’s selection, this month we include the younger version of Graham Kirkham’s cheese, aged for between 2 and 3 months. The two ages of this cheese exhibit flavours that are worlds apart. The younger version you have here has yoghurty, bright and layered flavours and the distinctively fluffy and crumbly texture that we look for upon our visits to Graham and his team at Beesley Farm. The batches we are sending out this month are also demonstrating fruity flavours of banana and mango alongside their typical and satisfying balance of citric and savoury notes.
Made by Julie Hay and the Fletcher family in the West Midlands. Raw sheep’s milk, animal rennet.
Seasonality often brings surprises in cheese. The current batches of Berkswell are decidedly different to the cheeses we have been used to; the paste is moist and creamy, with none of the usual granular, flaky texture. On our recent trip to Ram Hall Farm we were delighted with what we were tasting; flavours were mellow and fruity with a savoury, nutty note. These January cheeses are now in our hands and we are pleased to be able to send out to you such an interesting example of this cheese: smooth in texture, savoury in flavour and with a brightness that marks them out as truly exceptional.
Made by Mary Holbrook in Somerset. Raw goat’s milk, cardoon stamen infusion.
Mary Holbrook, recently named ‘the reluctant guru of goat’s cheese’ in the Observer Food Monthly typically makes Cardo between April and October. Mary brings the cheeses to our maturing arches in Bermondsey herself when they are less than a week old. Here, they are washed (often by Mary herself as she works with our maturing team on Wednesdays), either simply with water or a light saline solution. They are stored in humid rooms to encourage the growth of the pink tacky rind. The cheese ripens from the outside in, resulting in a paste which is firmer and more acidic towards the core, with an oozy breakdown at the rind. Current batches taste meaty and punchy, with the rind bringing a pleasantly crunchy bite; a must try!
Made by Joe Bennett in Staffordshire. Raw goat’s milk, animal rennet.
Innes Log is the result of a partnership between Joe Bennett and the Neal’s Yard Dairy maturation team. Joe’s cheese arrives with us at only a few days old, delivered fresh and young each Friday morning by him and partner Amy. We then have a weekly tasting and troubleshooting session with them which has helped the cheese evolve. It is now one of our best-sellers. Flavours are bright and savoury, with a slightly yeasty flavour coming from the vegetable ash rind. The texture is dense and fudgey.