James Grant, No2 Pound St: “Batting down the hatches”

16 January 2023, 14:20 PM
  • James Grant, owner of No2 Pound St, shares his favourite artisan cheeses for the new year with Speciality Food readers
James Grant, No2 Pound St: “Batting down the hatches”

Despite global warming, our climate is somewhat predictable in the UK. We are pretty much guaranteed to enjoy a deep spell of cold weather come January and February. So why don’t we tempt you in with some hearty and robust cheeses to keep your spark and attention?

Washed rind cheese with heady rinds offer a punch that generally delivers a wake-up call to most palates. Like marmite some people say… well in the cheese world turophiles and cheese afficionados generally adore this style of cheese. Until recently we had thought the colouration of washed rind, being pink, orange and red is derivative only from Brevibaterium Linens.

But hold on, we have found other salt-tolerant cultures on the surface of these style of cheeses. Washed rind cheeses are often pongy, but don’t worry their bark is worse than their bite. Once you have gotten past the smell the cheese offers subtle sweet, meaty and fruity flavours. This style of cheese is great to enjoy on a cold night when snuggly indoors. Try Saval, this is great paired with good fatty meats and a good viscous Pinot Gris, or Gewurztraminer.

Alternatively, why not stick a piece of Saval in the oven for 10 minutes pierced with garlic, herbs and a wee glug of diluted cognac. Just get your artisan bread toasted and ready to dip – pickles are good with this as it cuts the fat. This is the cheese I am most in love with in the washed rind category.

It is made by Robert Savage in Llandysul, Ceredigion – Wales. The grazing is fabulous here and the Jersey cows produce a high-fat milk which really adds substance to this creamy and dense cheese. On colder nights it is also great with a wee dram of Welsh Whisky – you should try some from Teifi at their Da Mhile Distillery, it has a smooth well rounded flavour. It is seriously one of the best whiskies I have ever had and works like a dream with Saval. Just perfect for the cooler nights.

Now lets get really comfy with this other firm favourite of mine, Stichelton. We have been selling this as a wholesale cheese for a while now. It never disappoints. So as the days remain short and the nights draw in why not take a little time to discover and recommend this beauty. This cheese recipe was put together by the ex-cheesemaker of Daylesford Organic – Joe Schneider.

It is a recipe not dissimilar to Stilton but of course it isn’t because it is called Stichelton. The major difference is that this is raw milk, and thecheese is also aged on a little longer and the piercing is delayed a little longer. Often other crumbly blue cheese is made and moved on a lot quicker. These cheeses tend to be a little more tonic on the back of the palate and not as gentle or well rounded in flavour.

Stichelton on the other hand has a myriad of pleasing flavours. The rind offers yeasty meaty notes, the paste is rich buttery and fudgy, the blue is welcoming and beckons you in with a delightful herbaceous note that tingles on your tongue.

Who needs to worry about the cold and dark nights when you can come home to this! This is quite seriously decadence and worth every penny. The great thing about good raw milk and good pasteurised cheese is that you do not need to eat as big a piece as other more industrially and pasteurised cheeses.

There is a depth of flavour that offers terroir. There are more minerals and goodness in artisan cheese this is fact. If you are a shop owner, recommend these cheeses immediately – your customers will flock back…

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