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Sunday Food: Visit to Neal’s Yard Dairy Farm Cheeses from the British Isles

Cheeses at Neal's Yard

Cheeses at Neal’s Yard

(Picture courtesy of Kalina Wilson at flickr.com.)

Some posts come out to get you, and this is one.  Last Saturday I was strolling around the Covent Garden area, just enjoying the ancient cobblestone streets and the bric-a-brac of stonework and sculpture on the buildings.   Then I happened onto a lady out in front of a shop giving out cheese samples.  Now I don’t usually do a plug for particular businesses, but this time I don’t think you will fly to London to visit the shop, anyway.

Never could I say no to a cheese.   So I sampled, oh, my!   This was every kind of nice, and creamy and tasty so I stopped into the shop and walked through their display of more beautiful rounds of cheese than you want to think about.   At the very back, I found the Stilton.  Some people, I hear, don’t like the stipling of green/blue in their cheese.  I crave it.   This was simply gorgeous, with a creamy rind, looked wonderful.   So I caught the eye of one of the servers and asked for a sample.

\There are no words./

I took some back with me, not a lot since I was traveling by the Underground/Tube and it was warm.   The Stilton came back to the home where I’m staying, while the friend there is having radiation treatments and needs help traveling to them.   It sat in the refrigerator, on top of the clotted cream, and waited until evening.   Then I offered it to the friends, who just happen not to have a taste for those blue/green stippled sorts of cheese.   It was mine, all mine.   I lightly toasted a piece of bakery bread, and applied thick slices of Stilton on top, and munched through one of the delectable pleasures of enjoyment.   If you get the pleasure, I wish you all the wonderful moments, yourself.

The shop itself is a wonder, has a few branches and spreads joy to the cheese lovers in these parts with great refinement.   I’ve become a fan, and will visit again.

In going online to learn more, I find that there is a prohibition now on the Stichelton cheeses from England as they are made from raw milk and regulations demand milk be pasteurized for consumption, for safety’s sake.

The reason the Stichelton cheese is in demand of course is taste and texture, and pasteurization makes changes that aren’t part of the qualities the cheese presents.   The Dairy production knowledgeable want the regulation changed because:

To produce the best cheese, all aspects of the process need be exceptional: the inputs, the skill of the cheesemaker, and the talent of the maturer. Excellent raw milk provides a better ingredient for the cheesemaker then pasteurised milk. It doesn’t guarantee a better cheese, but great raw milk cheese trumps pasteurised milk cheese for flavour. We sell cheese on flavour and provide accurate, transparent and honest information to our customers. It is a prerequisite that the cheese be safe.

As a devotee of great cheese, I agree.   Sometimes safety measures interfere with reality.    Cheese is made by something we consider spoilage, frankly.    To make a good cheese, milk has to go beyond the stage that we drink, and anyone who eats cheese knows that.   We ought to be sensible and make sure the product is safe, not interfere with the way it’s achieved.

 

 

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Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.