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From dessert-worthy flavour combinations like The Cheshire Cheese Company’s Sticky Toffee Heaven Cheddar and Strawberries, Cream & Champagne Cheshire Heart to
classic flavour boosters like herbs and garlic, one thing is clear: that producers and consumers alike are excited by the possibilities of modern flavour pairings. We’re seeing cheeses containing spirits like whisky and gin coming into the market, and with cheesemakers partnering with popular producers of quality spirits to create these innovations, we’re seeing a new type of industry-spanning support – potentially bringing spirit lovers into the world of artisanal cheese and vice versa. As the variation of flavours present within cheese products grows, so do the formats we find cheese in – with social media playing a big part in pushing unusual inventions above and beyond their traditional reach.
Take as an example cheese tea: an overseas creation of black or green tea, topped with a cream cheese and milk foam and a sprinkling of salt. Certainly boasts the novelty factor, but whether it would go down well at a British farm shop café remains to be seen (or not). Or coffee topped with cubes of cheese, in the style of marshmallows on hot chocolate – a cheesy take on the protein-packed bulletproof coffee, perhaps. Not for the faint hearted, and possibly not one for the UK’s fine cheese sector. And yet, there is something to be learned from these international oddities: that even if the idea of a product doesn’t tempt tastebuds, it can still gain traction across the world through the power of social media.
It’s not just in the retail sphere that consumers are looking for heightened experience; as they become increasingly interested in the stories and skills that go on behind the scenes to create the food and drink they love, there’s an opportunity for cheesemakers and sellers to strengthen the connection between product and purchaser. One business which has done so with great success is The Wensleydale Creamery, which saw such an interest in the behind the scenes of its operations that it launched the Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese Experience: an interactive opportunity for cheese lovers to see cheesemakers at work, cheesemaking demonstrations, tasting and pairing masterclasses and cookery demonstrations. This is something which makers and mongers can adopt on a manageable scale, too – by holding tasting events and Meet the Maker evenings, and spending time on building the connection between shoppers and the products they’re buying through conversation and in-store displays.
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