Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Will the Real Cloth Bound Cheddar Please Stand Up.

Ever since I read about cloth bound cheddar in The Art of Eating I knew that I had to try some. I've had one or two now and not found anything to love. And then the other day we tried some Wensleydale made for Neal's Yard. This without question is the finest Cheddar I've ever had. Nothing comes close.

Wensleydale is made by a large producer, but this cheese is made specially for Neal's Yard, and it is old school cloth bound farmhouse Cheddar. The cheese is just delicious. It is moist but not entirely so, and also a bit crumbly. It tastes of grass and fresh cream and is beautifully balanced. I love the subtlety of this cheese - it is gentle and quiet, but it really lingers. I enjoyed imagining eating it in an inn somewhere in rural England, perhaps The Slaughtered Lamb from American Werewolf in London, perhaps with a hunk of bread and a glass of something. It is smooth and creamy and very difficult to stop eating.

We tried grating this cheese into scrambled eggs - very nice. We tried melting on bread - excellent. But the best way to eat it, I think, is simply to slice it and eat it on its own. We did this a little while back, some good whole grain bread, and a simple salad on the side.

What to drink with a cheese like this? There were all sorts of good suggestions the last time I wrote about cloth bound Cheddar. We drank beer this time, specifically stout, and it was perfect. Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout, to be exact. The sweet and slightly bitter taste of the almost black beer played beautifully with the creamy smooth cheese. I'm telling you, the combination of this just slightly effervescent dark beer with the Wensleydale is dangerous.

11 comments:

Scott Reiner said...

have you tried the cabot? delish!

B8wine said...

It sounds delicious, and it reminded me I still have to complete my cheese press.

Bronwen Percival said...

I'm so glad you liked the Wensleydale. I just heard today that one of the milk producers who supplies Wensleydale Creamery is thinking about starting to make an unpasteurised version of the cheese, and I'm very excited to try it. It's still a year or so in the future, though...

Bronwen Percival said...

PS I've sent an email about this to your earthlink address, too...

Brooklynguy said...

hey scott - i'm just not a fan. tried it several times and i find it to be very artificial in its caramel taste. but that's just me.

Bronwen Percival said...

Hi again. I wanted to add, in my extremely cheese-geek way, that even though Wensleydale is cloth-bound, it's technically not a Cheddar. There are a whole family of 'crumblies' (e.g. Cheshire, Lancashire, Wensleydale), traditionally cloth-bound like Cheddar but normally aged for a much shorter time (around 3-4 months rather than 1-2 years). Cheddar is lower moisture and less buttery/lactic tasting than these 'crumblies', though a lot of people would also claim that our Wensleydale is not 'classic' in that it's too soft and not crumbly enough for them! Neal's Yard have asked Wensleydale Dairy to make that style of cheese for us because we think it's a lot nicer than the more acid and brittle textured Wensleydales on the market.

Cheddar is named after one of the steps in the method, 'cheddaring', in which the curds are repeatedly flipped and stacked in order to drain and stretch them in a particular way before they are milled. In contrast, the curd for the crumblies is simply cut into blocks, sometimes broken apart with one's hands, allowed to acidify, and then put directly through the mill without being cheddared.

I'm going to go and find some Oatmeal Stout to try with the Wensleydale; that sounds delicious!

MichaelB said...

Was this sold to you as a Cheddar? Interesting. Wensleydale comes from the north of England (Yorkshire), whilst Cheddar comes from the south-west (somerset/Dorset). I know the term Cheddar has become a bit bastardized, referring to a style more than the place and often even comes from other countries, but as an artisan product these are normally seen as two different styles of cheese.

Brooklynguy said...

Bronwen - thank you so much for this information - so as MichaelB points out, what I had wasn't technically a Cheddar.

I still loved it.

thanks again!

saignee said...

I had the oppurtunity to visit Neal's Yard at the borough market while stuck in London (a wine writer friend described it as "the best cheese shop in England" so I had to check it out) and was blown away. I don't think there is enough respect given to English cheeses, especially Cheddar, here in the states. Your suggestion of just bread+cheese is the right way to go on this cheese. I grabbed some and a bottle of cider whose name I forgot and sat in the sun. Fantastic.

- Cory

Steve said...

Where did you get the Wensleydale from? I live in Manhattan and have had a tough time finding it - usually, you find the Wensleydale with Cranberries (if I want to pair up fruit, I'll do it separately!), but only rarely true Wensleydale, and rarer still clothbound.

Brooklynguy said...

Steve - I got it at the Park Slope Food Coop. And I absolutely agree with you - if i want fruit in my cheese, I can take care of that myself.