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NEAL'S YARD DAIRY: ON BRITISH CHEESE

Neal’s Yard Dairy is a renowned cheesemongers, showcasing outstanding British and Irish cheeses. As well as sourcing, maturing and selling British cheese, the team is on a mission to improve it by supporting small producers and championing sustainable and traditional cheesemaking practices.

This year, we’re proud to be partnering with Neal’s Yard Dairy for the festive season. We chatted with the team at Neal’s Yard Dairy to find out more about their cheeses and how best to enjoy them, as well as more top cheese tips from cheesemonger Lydia West.

ABOUT THE NEAL’S YARD DAIRY CHEESE SELECTION

Inside each Neal’s Yard Dairy Cheese Selection box, you’ll find: Colston Bassett Stilton, Westcombe Cheddar, Winslade, Thin Orkney Oatcakes, and England Preserves Pear, Date and Ale Chutney.

ABOUT THE CHEESES

Colston Bassett Stilton

About the cheese

Described by Neal’s Yard Dairy as ‘a perfect blue for those who think they don’t like blues’, Colston Bassett Stilton is gentler and more balanced than many blues cheeses, with a subtle sweetness and buttery taste.

About the cheesemaker and dairy

This award-winning Stilton is made to a special recipe for Neal’s Yard Dairy by cheesemaker Billy Kevan and team at Colston Bassett Dairy in Nottinghamshire. Founded in 1913, it’s one of only five dairies in the world still producing Stilton, and the only one doing so using the traditional process of ladling the curds by hand – a step which leads to its rich, smooth texture.

Serving suggestions

Neal’s Yard Dairy recommends serving Colston Bassett Stilton on an Orkney oatcake with a drizzle of honey, or try cooking with it in pies and tarts, gratins and pasta dishes.

Westcombe cheddar

About the cheese

Westcombe is a traditional farmhouse cheddar with a deep, complex flavour. It has a subtle nuttiness and a nice balance of creaminess and lactic acidity.

About the cheesemaker and dairy

Head cheesemaker Rob Howard and the Calver family at Somerset-based Westcombe Dairy produce their flagship cheese using the same traditional processes used over 100 years ago. In fact, “Westcombe cheddar is one of just three cheddars left in Somerset still made by hand on the farm, using raw milk, natural cloth binding and traditional cheese cultures”, says Neal’s Yard Dairy’s Lydia.

Serving suggestions

Neal’s Yard Dairy recommends grating Westcombe cheddar into scrambled eggs towards the end of cooking for a deep, savoury flavour. It’s also great on a cheeseboard, used in sandwiches and toasties, melted onto burgers, or baked into quiches and tarts.

Winslade

About the cheese

Described by its makers as ‘a Camembert-Vacherin cross’, Winslade is a small, soft, cow’s milk cheese with a gooey centre. Wrapped in a spruce collar, it has notes of pine and ‘a quiet floral earthiness’.

About the cheesemaker and dairy

Winslade was created by Stacey Hedges and Charlotte Spruce of Hampshire Cheese Company, the team behind popular British camembert-style cheese, Tunworth. The duo set out to create a cheese that was similar in shape and size to their existing product, but with ‘a markedly different character’. The end result, Winslade, has a similarly soft, oozy centre but is much milder in flavour than Tunworth.

Serving suggestions

Neal’s Yard Dairy suggests pairing Winslade with figs on a cheeseboard, or try baking it in the oven until molten, then serving with crusty bread for dunking.

MORE TOP CHEESE TIPS FROM NEAL’S YARD DAIRY

How should I store my cheese?

Neal’s Yard Dairy’s cheeses come wrapped in waxed cheese paper to maintain the right levels of humidity around the cheese, while still allowing it to breathe. The Neal's Yard team advise keeping the cheese wrapped in this paper, and storing it within a box in the fridge – “this not only prevents the cheese from drying out, it also keeps it from absorbing other flavours in the fridge”, says Lydia. Using cling film or foil is not recommended as it can cause the cheese to sweat, which can negatively affect flavour.

How long before serving should I remove my cheese from the fridge?

Cold temperatures blunt the flavour of cheese, so it’s important to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Remove your cheese from the fridge 1-3 hours before eating, and keep it wrapped during this time to avoid it drying out.

How can I build a festive cheeseboard?

“Cheese this delicious can be enjoyed alone but accompaniments will add even more layers of flavour, so have fun and experiment with what you have on hand” says Lydia. “A few ideas to get you started are: good sourdough bread, oatcakes (we’ve included our favourite Thin Orkney Oatcakes), a fruity chutney (we've included England Preserves Pear, Date and Ale Chutney), hot mustard and/or a piquant chilli jam, a slice of quince or damson paste, plenty of good quality salted butter, pickled onions or cornichons (or both!), cured meats, slices of crisp apple or ripe pear, mince pies or Christmas fruitcake”

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