The garden is now dotted with hundred of crocuses so Spring is surely springing. But before it is totally sprung, lets just look back at some of the lovely winter cheeses that we’ve been eating for the last few months. Their characters will all be changing with the seasons – particularly the Gorwydd Caerphilly as the cows head back outside to pasture. Some, like the Vacherin Mont D’or will disappear entirely until the autumn. Here’s a lovely piece written by Alex for Harbourside magazine about these seasonal beauties.
Looking after the wholesale business for Trethowan’s Dairy means constant contact with some of the top chefs in Bristol and one of the elements that excites them all are seasonal foods. Few people however would include cheese in that category.
The fact is, when dealing with artisan cheeses, even those that are available all year will change with the seasons depending on what the animals are eating.
With the clocks changing & daylight at a premium our bodies crave comfort foods and as a stored product, cheese has always been an important winter protein source. Here are some of my favourites to turn to as the days close in.
Our own Gorwydd Caerphilly will increasingly be made with silage fed milk giving concentrated flavours & creaminess. The melting butteriness and mushroomy earthiness from the rind make it perfect for cheese on toast. Seek out a good sourdough loaf for the perfect snack.
Ogleshield is another great one for melting . Made by Jamie Montgomery of Cheddar fame, we use this West Country Jersey milk cheese on our Raclette machines. However it also makes wonderfully rich Pommes Dauphinoise or pasta bake. Add a salad of winter greens and supper is done.
Ordinarily I would classify goat and sheep’s milk cheeses as late spring, early summer cheeses, when they first reappear after lambing or kidding, but Dorstone, an ash rolled goat cheese made by Charlie Westhead in Herefordshire has a meatiness at this time of year that satisfies. Look out for the Apricot and Cider chutney which will be paired with it at Christmas.
Everybody thinks of Stilton as Xmas draws near, but Stichelton, an unpasteurised blue cheese made by Joe Schneider on the Wellbeck Estate in Notts. is supreme in my opinion. The balance of sweet milk and salty blueing will win over any doubters.
Finally, Vacherin Mont d’Or was designed for winter eating. Made with milk from Alpine cattle who graze in high mountain pastures, these first become available around mid October until they run out in Feb/March. Trethowan’s carry one of the few hand made versions still available. Intended for high calorific intake to survive mountain winters it is a great sharing cheese. It can be baked in the box and scooped like a fondue.
So do your bit for the planet, turn down the heating and eat more cheese this winter.
Alex Te-Strote, Trethowan’s Dairy
Trethowan’s Dairy Shop
The Glass Arcade, St Nicholas Market, Bristol