French Cheese Vs. British Cheese
Date: 12-07-2017 published by Nick Baines
Historically, it’s been French cheeses that have had the most prolific fame and attention. Call it marketing, call it the backlash of 13 years of post war rationing, but the UK cheese making industry took a heavy hit following the war, while production on the continent never stopped – the downside of being an island dependent on imports.
However, it could be seen that the French have largely rested on their laurels, creating a vacuum for British cheese making to thrive. Today some of the most exciting wedges on a cheese board aren’t from across the channel, but from here in Blighty. But who is looking sharper and stronger these days. Let’s take a look:
It’s runny, gooey cheeses that France is so famous for with Brie de Meaux being the most iconic soft cheese in the world. Sure, when in perfect condition, this cows milk cheese is unbeatable, offering up mushroomy notes and supplying a contrast between soft, creamy paste and a firm bite from the rind. But have you tried Tunworth lately, There’s a stunning soft cows milk cheese from the Isle Of Wight, before we even mention Bath soft cheese.
The stinky French…. washed rind cheeses like Epoisses have been long time favourites of fancy dining rooms, the way it seeps out on a cheese cart, the pungent, captivating aromas tickling at your nostrils. But washed rind cheese is one of the most exciting areas of British cheese making with stand outs like Stinking Bishop, Oxford Isis and Golden Cenarth to name but a few. Each of these delicate, powerful cheeses can stand toe to toe with even the most pristine Langres.
Ok, so when we hit blue cheese, Roquefort stand pretty high on the salty, mineral twang charts, the cave aging playing a significant role in the flavour. We don’t need to tout the intricacies and world appreciation of Stilton, instead we can look at the wide range of complex, and very different blue cheeses of the UK. From Shropshire, Cornish and Beenleigh Blue, to the prestigious Cashel Blue from Tipperary in Ireland, we have a wealth of blue cheese prowess at our finger tips, each with unique and refined flavours, and a spectrum of sharpness, creaminess and intensity of blue veining.
I was originally going to leave this last section off as it didn’t seem particularly fair. But cheddar undoubtedly needs to be mentioned, and arguably closes this argument for good. Nowhere else will you find such rugged, high-quality, deep flavoured cheddars. True farmhouse cheddars such as the likes of Keens, Westcombe, Montgomery’s and Quickes pack a punch while leaving a long lingering and satisfying finish. There’s a whole world of other exciting and interesting British cheddars and quite frankly, even our most commercial block cheddars still come out victorious against any from France, Germany or anywhere in the US. Even without the mention of this proud cornerstone of the British dairy industry, we still stand shoulder to shoulder with our French friends, but the fact of the matter is, you guys need a balanced, diverse and interesting cheese offering, and French cheese alone, just wont cut it.
While many are still mulling over the pros and cons of Brexit, cheese imports should not be one worth fearing. Seriously, don’t fret about the cheese board, because we have got ourselves covered.
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