Monday 7 February 2011

Cricketer Farm Cheese - Nether Stowey Reserve Cheddar

I still remember a childhood holiday when we visited Cheddar Gorge and the nearby Wookey Hole, a network of spooky caves filled with stalagmites and stalactites, on the edge of the Mendip Hills in Somerset. It therefore makes perfect sense that the award-winning cheesemaker Cricketer Farm is based in Somerset. According to Wikipedia, Cheddar cheese is the most popular cheese in the United Kingdom, accounting for 51% of the country's £1.9 billion annual cheese market, and although Cheddar cheese is produced in many countries across the world, only cheese produced in the English counties of Somerset, Devon, Dorset, and Cornwall can be given the EU Protected Designation of Origin name "West Country farmhouse Cheddar". Well, I never knew that !

I was intrigued by the name Nether Stowey and went off to investigate. The Cricketer Farm website explains : "Nether Stowey, a village on the edge of the Quantock Hills, which is an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), has been the home of Cricketer Farm since the dairy was founded. The new Nether Stowey Reserve has been made to a traditional recipe which has been passed down through generations of master cheesemakers, using milk sourced from dairy herds that graze on the lush pastures surrounding the village and neighbouring countryside."

The lush pastures probably help to explain why the cheese is so creamy and smooth. It's labelled as a mature cheddar but, although it has a deeper flavour than the mild cheddar I often buy, I would have classed it as medium because it doesn't have the harsh bite of some mature cheddars. It's great in sandwiches - I made a cracking cheese and pickle sandwich on granary bread still warm straight out of the bread machine ! - but also gives a lovely flavour to cauliflower cheese or grated over pasta with a tomatoey sauce.

The Cricketer Farm website also has some other recipe ideas for you to try out, including cheese straws, cottage pie with cheesy mash topping and cheese scones.

star rating : 4.5/5

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