It has been immensely affecting to see the enthusiastic responses received by the campaigns in support of British cheesemakers.
It was a cruel twist of fate for something that often needs many months of maturation, to have many of its roads to market removed overnight.
But roads go two ways, and with the loss of access to the diverse range of cheeses in this country, the British public have taken to their tablets, phones and computers to get their fix from online retailers. Thankfully, cheese is one of those affordable luxuries that can be enjoyed at home with relative ease. All it takes is a few minutes on the web, and a parcel of freshly cut cheeses can be despatched by a team of dedicated cheesemongers.
We want to thank all of you who have bought something, either for themselves or for loved ones in these past few weeks. We’d especially like to thank those who have written in with stories of the impact receiving or sending cheeses has had for them . It is often the human side of any story that is most compelling. That side is perhaps rarely seen for our cheesemongers, so we wanted to share a little of that for the cheesemakers in this latest Save British Cheese selection box.
There is tremendous community spirit in the world of cheese, something shown even by this campaign. Spearheaded by Jamie Oliver; Neal's Yard Dairy, The Courtyard Dairy and The Fine Cheese Co. joined forces to ensure the at-risk cheeses in this selection can get to the widest possible audience.
All three cheesemakers in this selection have played a vital part in making the cheesemaking community such a vibrant and inventive one. They are remarkably dedicated to their craft, something that comes across on the plate, but also in person.
Tom Calver is the maker of the sublime and complex Westcombe Cheddar. Situated close by, Tom has been a gracious and tireless host for our frequent visits.
It is not uncommon for a question to send Tom down a rabbit hole made of his own excitement, as he discusses the improvements he is making to the quality of his herd’s care, to the quality of the milk and to the cheese itself.
He has also opened the doors of his farm to a festival for the Specialist Cheesemakers Association, allowing a gathering of the UK’s greatest cheesemakers, where tips and notes were swapped and discussed at length.
Will Clarke had big shoes to fill, as his parents, Jo and David Clarke, are like cheese royalty here in the UK, thanks to their revival of raw milk Red Leicester. Not one to back down from a challenge, Will set about creating not one, but two raw milk blue cheeses, a notoriously difficult beast to master.
We spent some time with Will at the cheese festival in Bra last year, where his nutty and tangy Shropshire Blue in particular proved to be a huge hit. Will worked his way through the crowds, offering samples and tireless explanations of how he made the cheese and gave it that incredible colour to an insatiable crowd of Italians.
Lastly, we have worked with David Jowett, the maker of the soft and piney Rollright, for a relatively short while. Yet we have known him for far longer, and we would frequently talk and catch up at the various shows that would take place throughout the UK not so long ago. Like many cheesemakers, David would happily talk shop, swapping ideas and notes to help collectively improve the UK’s cheeses. We know we speak for all of these cheesemakers, and the many others you have supported, when we say we can’t express how grateful everyone is for your support.
Each of their cheeses are incredible, and will be well worth the investment to see what makes British cheese so exciting right now. This may well be the last of the campaign officially brought out in conjunction with Jamie Oliver, but the support and appetite will still remain for British cheeses. We will create many more selections to help those who are still vulnerable as the UK begins to reopen in the next few months.
Thank you to you all for your continued interest. Even to those who have written in from overseas with tales of their local areas and how they are buying more cheese. It is important and the support is so meaningful. For details of the last box in the Save British Cheese initiative, please see below.
200g - Cow, Pasteurised
Made by David Jowett, from the organic milk of Manor Farm, Chedworth, 800 feet up in the Cotswolds. David uses the milk of this mixed herd of British Friesians and Dairy Shorthorns to produce his stunning cheese. Wrapped in spruce bands, the cheeses ripen to glorious maturity. When ready, the paste is glossy, rich and voluptuous, and the taste is buttery, complex and resinous.
500g - Cow, Raw Milk
A truly artisan cheddar from Somerset with a deep and complex flavour. Cheese has been made at Westcombe since the 1890s and they now remain as one of the last three traditional producers of Somerset Cheddar. The cheese has a wonderfully full and savoury flavour, with a slightly tangy finish.
SPARKENHOE SHROPSHIRE BLUE
275g - Cow, Raw Milk
Will Clarke makes this cheese to the same recipe as his Sparkenhoe Blue, but adds annatto to the milk, just as his family does for their Sparkenhoe Red Leicester. This gives the cheese its glorious colour. The paste ranges from a blush, peach tone to a deeper hue next to the blue veins, as the curd begins to break down. The taste is buttery and mellow with a gentle spice to finish.