We have had a busy couple of weeks which started by judging at the International Cheese Awards at the end of June. We are always hugely thrilled to be invited to judge and it is always a lovely day to be involved in. I was given 5 different classes to judge so I started with some wonderful goat’s cheeses, followed by 2 sheep milk classes, a cheddar class and then a retail class (this class is all about presentation rather than tasting). As always it’s a blind tasting so I don’t know which cheeses I was sampling but I looked up the winner of my first class as it was a lovely ash covered goat’s milk cheese. Luckily it was a cheese that we already stock – Driftwood, from White Lake Cheese, so I won’t need to go searching for it to be able to add it to our counter!
We then headed up to the Yorkshire Dales for a wonderful week’s holiday. We love to holiday in the UK as we have 2 gorgeous labradors and nothing beats spending time with them exploring the great place that is the British Isles. We’d rented a small cottage in Reeth which is pretty much half way from both the east and west coasts of Northern England. Reeth is a beautiful village and I’d highly recommend it as a destination. I found a perfect 10k loop to do a run each morning and we could walk the dogs from the cottage in a different direction every day.
No holiday would be complete with a cheesy twist and I was delighted to discover Lacey’s Cheese are based in Reeth. We went along and met up with Simon Lacey who has been making cheese for longer than he cared to remember! He specialises in raw milk (unpasteurised) sheep’s cheeses and the ones we tasted were sublime. St Benedict is a traditional Wensleydale in that the monks that first brought cheesemaking to Yorkshire would have used sheep’s milk. Aged for up to eight weeks, it is sweet and buttery with a refreshing tang. Fallen Monk is a 3-month-old, hard pressed cheese, giving it a texture between a Wensleydale and a Cheddar. During its ageing period it develops a rich savoury flavour. Simon also makes sheep and goat milk gelatos which we are intending on stocking in the Loose Larder (we just need to work out which flavours to get)!
Another new and exciting cheese that we have in the counter is St Gall. Named after the monastery of St Gallen near Appenzell in Switzerland, this brine-washed cheese has all the characteristics of a fine Swiss cheese with the rich, earthy creaminess from the Irish countryside, coupled with the fruity nuttiness of a French Comté and the oozy meltability of an Italian Fontina. We tried it at the International Cheese Awards and were very excited to be able to bring a couple of wheels back to Pangbourne. We are hoping to make it a permanent fixture as it is truly delicious.
You can buy all three of our new cheeses in Pangbourne or through our online shop by clicking on the links above.