Rindwash on Sunday Brunch C4 10 Jan 2016, celebrating British cheese making.

11 Jan

The best British cheeses stand proud side by side with their continental cousins.


Since April 2013, i have appeared on Sunday Brunch 10 times, we have spoken about over thirty cheeses from all over Europe, 14 of them ( including today’s ) are British.

My concern is always about artisan making, I do not have any nationalistic concerns, this attitude is outdated, We only have one planet, the same one for all of us, so when something good is happening you have to speak about it.

These  are the cheeses that were selected for this show as a mean to illustrate the quality British cheese making.




I selected that cheese purely on taste. This cheese is made from thermised goat milk ( gentle heat treatment ) which may indicate that the maker does not own his own goats but collect from a dairy farmer. I cannot confirm any of that, as nobody from Whitelake answered my mail. In the absence of more information, I will refrain from saying anything more about that cheese and invite you to consult another page on this blog from August 2015 where we focused entirely on goat cheeses. Peter Humphries at Whitelake is a cheese maker, i am not too worried about the communication break down, after milking, cleaning and disinfecting, cheese making, cleaning and disinfecting again, ripening, milking, and so on there is not much time to do the talking, that is why i am happy to do some of it. It shan’t be long before we fill up the gaps…



Baron Bigod

The only Brie style cheese made in the UK from unpasteurised milk!!!

Let us hear from Johnny and Dulcie.

“We are Johnny and Dulcie Crickmore, 3rd generation dairy farmers near Bungay in Suffolk. We have a herd of Montbeliarde cows, many of which were hand picked by Jonny from small fermiers in the Jura Region of France. They have been bred specifically for cheesemaking and good milk quality, rather than quantity. The rest have been bred in, with some cross-breeding to Brown Swiss and Jersey.

We began learning our cheesemaking skills from scratch, two years ago. We began with a cheesemaking course at Welbeck School of Artisan Food and some consultancy from Ivan Larcher, French cheesemaking consultant. We have spent a lot of time researching, visiting other cheesemakers and consulting with Neals yard Dairy in London, who have been very helpful with advice whilst we are developing our cheese. We have sadly never been able to visit a true French Brie maker (they guard their secrets closely!) so we have taught ourselves the art of Brie style cheesemaking, through much research, trial and error. We pay very close attention to the microbiological behaviour of our cheese and plot the behaviour of every batch carefully on a graph, to determine ways of navigating the seasonal changes in milk composition and to attain consistency of quality.

We gravity feed all milk, to avoid pumping/dropping and damaging the milk. We strive to feed as much home grown forage and fresh grass as possible, to produce the highest quality milk. We are working towards once-a-day milking soon, in order to reduce animal stress and improve milk quality. All our cheesemaking processes are performed by hand, no mechanised stages. Our goal is to make a traditional farmhouse cheese to rival the French Brie de Meaux. This is something that has never been achieved in the UK before. We still have a long way to go but we are working hard!

We have recently begun to produce a raw cultured butter, the only one in the UK made on the farm. for the story, please see here: http://fenfarmdairy.co.uk/raw-butter/

We also sell our raw drinking milk to the public, through the UK’s first farm gate milk vending machine. This venture has been so successful that we are now the UK representatives for DF Italia milk vending machines. We sell the machines to other UK dairy farmers, which has proved a great way of helping farmers to get a fair price for some of their milk. ”



What do I think?

This is the British benchmark for Brie making.

It is stunning, I tried it at four to 5 weeks maturation, well balanced, little sharpness if none, it is richer than some of the French Brie i know, the Montbeliarde are responsible for that, their milk is sensibly richer in fat than the cows traditionally used in making its French cousin, great contrast between the slightly oozy under the rind and a firmer chalky heart. There was a lovely yellow tinge to the flesh, hold tight come May and June, this yellow tinge will deepen as the cows come back on a full grass diet, i personally cannot wait….

Most recommended.



Let us listen to Claire at Burt’s cheese.

“Burt’s Cheese started out life in January 2009 in Altrincham, Cheshire as a hobby on my kitchen table. It was a career in the dairy industry, that inspired me to follow my passion for cheese-making, I was lucky enough to visit many diaries across the UK and Europe but I think it was my trips to Italy that really inspired me. I had returned to work in early 2010 after taking maternity leave, and in July that year entered the International Cheese Awards – Nantwich, I was incredibly proud when Burt’s Blue won Gold in the Specialist Cheese-Makers Class. I think the award gave me the confidence I needed and I made the decision to leave my career at Dairygold, scale-up production and turn my hobby into a business, by the end of 2010 Burt’s Cheese moved into a small premises (a room at the back of the local cookery school), situated on a local business park.

Unfortunately, the premises were so small it couldn’t grow as a business so we moved and Burt’s Cheese is now based near Knutsford, Cheshire. With the larger premises I was able to take someone on and develop the range from the original Burt’s Blue to include the Drunken Burt and now DiVine, now under the skill and patience of myself and Cheese- Maker Tom Partridge we produce a range of award winning Cheeses. We were also really proud to be named by the Observer Food Monthly as Best Producer 2013-2014.

A bit about the cheese, DiVine is the newest addition to the Burt’s family, launched in 2015, made much in the same way as the Burt’s Blue but instead of piercing to encourage the development of blue veins through the paste, the cheese is washed in cider (although the paste may occasionally develop some blue) when the coat has developed it is then wrapped in vine leaves.The ‘paste’ of cheese takes on some of the flavour characteristics of the cider, sometimes you almost pick up a smokey note from the oak barrels. You can expect the ‘younger’ cheese to have a slightly ‘chalky’ centre, which then softens as it continues to mature. The vine leaves help capture all flavours and help it develop characteristics more like a typical washed rind cheese as it matures.

The cider is Golden Valley from Gwatkins – Abbeydore, Hereford. Golden Valley takes its name from the small corner of Herefordshire where cider has been made for centuries.(http://gwatkincider.co.uk/) we used their cider because Tom our cheese- maker is from Hereford and so although it’s not local to the dairy it has a strong connection to us. The vine leaves we buy from a local deli, they are Greek. I guess the idea comes from wanting to develop our range, Tom has always been keen to try new things. And we’ve typically taken inspiration from some of the French and continental cheeses where leaves are used.

We were really pleased when our Cheese – Maker, Tom Partridge winning Gold in the Novice Class at the International Cheese Awards 2014 and a Gold award at the British Cheese Awards last year.”


What do I think?

It is fantastic, more-ish, i enjoy particularly the mixed flora present on the rind of the cheese, you ought to unwrap gently the vine leaves to uncover this surface flora, it gives complexity to the cheese without ever making it too strong. This cheese is very well balanced, the cider used for its making does flavour the cheese, it is not overpowering though, It is a very well balanced cheese indeed.

Most recommended.




Let us listen to Ross Davenport speaking about his parents and the cheese.

“Michael and Mary Davenport have been farming at Cote Hill Farm

for over 30 years. Their herd of 70 Friesian/Holstein and Red Poll cows produce the milk for the cheese. Michael milks the cows twice a day and Mary and son Joe use the milk to make into cheese.

During the summer the cows graze clover rich pasture and in the winter eat grass and maize silage together with red clover haylage, which are all grown on the farm.

This home produced forage, together with the high standard of cow management produces top quality award winning milk that is rich in butterfat and protein and by using the milk unpasteurised it allows the cheese to achieve an individuality that is unique to Cote Hill Farm.

We liken cheese making to that of producing a fine wine, the individuality of the land is reflected in the character of the cheese.

Michael starts milking the cows at 6am and the milk is pumped directly into the cheese vats to start making our Cote Hill Blue. Mary adds a small amount of starter to start the acidification but we rely on the natural milk bacteria in our milk to complete the process. After 3 hours the curds are hand ladled into the moulds. After 24 hours Mary rubs salt onto the surface of each cheese and they go into the maturation room. Four weeks later they have a lovely blue/grey mould on the surface with delicate blue veining inside. We wrap them in waxed paper ready for sale where they will continue to mature into a soft buttery texture.

We diversified into cheese making  because we love cheese and because of the poor price we were being paid for our milk.  It has enabled us to stay in farming  and to stay living here at Cote Hill Farm.

Our Cote Hill Blue is a soft blue veined cheese with a distinctive rind and a creamy texture with a delicious lingering flavour that envelops the mouth.

It has won a Super Gold at the World Cheese Awards in 2014,

Gold Medals at The British Cheese Awards, Nantwich International Cheese Show, and a Great Taste 2 Star Gold.”


What do i think?

It is gorgeous, never aggressive, well rounded, quite rich, we have to thank the Red Poll cows for that. The rind and the inner pate combine very well in mouth adding a tad more complexity.


The experience of taste is a very personal one, i was glad to wear those fantastic products on behalf of the makers as i am for all artisan cheeses i have worn so far. There will be more appearances on Sunday Brunch C4, plenty more chances to promote artisan cheeses wherever in the world it is made!


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