Cheese counter in need of a refresh? The Courtyard Dairy’s Andy Swinscoe shares his modern British must-stocks
Where would we be without Cheddar? And there is no doubt the long-standing West Country greats (Westcombe, Montgomery’s, Keen’s and Quickes) make absolutely fantastic cheese. It's essential to have at least one of them on your counter, but then mix-it up with a modern-day alternative. Personally I love Hafod or Barwheys- rich Ayrshire milk Cheddars, but it’s also worth looking out for Winterdale Shaw, Lincolnshire Poacher, St Andrew’s Cheddar. They’re all good, mix it up! Rotate them round.
There is a reason Ragstone is so famous on the British artisan cheese scene – it is really good. Nowadays you see more and more artisan goats cheeses pop up, but for me I don’t think you can go far wrong with Ragstone's sister – Dorstone. Made by Charlie Westhead in Herefordshire, this ashed goats cheese is light mousy and fresh, the perfect way to start a cheeseboard.
Where would Britain be without Stilton? There is no doubt the great Colston Bassett and Cropwell Bishop hold worthy on any cheese counter. But for a different blue to push your customer’s boundaries, try Stichelton or Young Buck; their small-scale identity and unpasteurised milk give them a talking point. And the flavours speak for themselves.
Once upon a time it was Brie de Meaux and Camembert and nothing in Britain came close. Nowadays Baron Bigod and Tunworth should be rightly suited to any great cheese counter. They are fabulous examples of how good British soft cheese can be and how far it has come. Two very different cheeses, stock them both as they offer a great contrast in size, impact and flavour.
For me at the moment it has to be Gorwydd Caerphilly. The work that Todd and Maugan Trethowan have done improving their Caerphilly since moving back to Somerset means this cheese should grace any counter; young or mature it always tastes great – people may not instantly go for Caerphilly as their crumbly of choice so there is some work to be done to persuade them how great Caerphilly can be – taste it out, open their eyes!