When’s the last time I talked about cheese, you guys? It’s been approximately almost forever, am I right? Sorry bout that. As I stated in a previous blog I’ve undergone a few changes lately and my desire to create dimmed for a bit due to a few growing pains, the least of which had to do with my cat shitting in my kitchen cupboard because she couldn’t figure out how to operate the baby gate I nailed to the wall to keep my dog from using the litter box as a buffet.
Gross. I know. But, for real. My. Kitchen. Cupboard. Sigh.
But, as I also stated previously, I feel like talking food again. Thank God. I was starting to feel subhuman without my intense love of all things edible.
So, let’s chat cheese, already! And not just any cheese. This cheese. This incredible, amazing, balls-out cheddar which I have absolutely zero right to talk about in the same post that I conversed about cat litter. I sincerely apologize to Neal’s Yard Dairy, Tom Calver and the entire team behind Westcombe for even mentioning shit – except to say that this cheese is THE SHIT – in the same blog as this fantastic wheel. But, sometimes that’s just how it goes. I feel like a mommy blogger – one minute talking about cleaning up poop and the next talking about dairy. Perhaps I should adopt a kid and change the theme of this blog.
Anywho, let’s get down to it.
What makes Westcombe worth mentioning? Well, other than the fact that Jamie Oliver had a hand in getting it to the shop (if you’re reading this then you are probably Charlotte and know this story but on the off chance that someone from Neal’s Yard Dairy is scouring this post to see if they can sue me for defamation of character, perhaps they may be entertained to know that Jamie Oliver, yes, THE Jamie Oliver helped us get our hands on this hot little number. Here is one big run on sentence: Louise commented on Jamie’s Instagram pic of one of our fave Alpine beauties, Challerhocker, and he ended up following her feed – he only follows 300 peeps, by the way, so this is a big effing deal, so now they communicate somewhat frequently over IG and he suggested we try Westcombe as he thinks it’s a brilliant cheese – British people say brilliant all the time so I thought that seemed like a fitting adjective, no? – but we have a hard time getting some cheeses across the sea, so he helped us out and now we are the first, if not only, peeps in the U.S. to have this fucking awesome cheese. Thank you, Jamie!) it is also one of the most memorable, flavorful, savory, long-lasting cheeses you’ll put into your face. Cross my heart.
Westcombe Dairy is a pretty sweet place to be if you’re a cow. Or a cheesemaker. Or you like farms. Listen to what they have to say about themselves: ”We’re a small, family-run artisan dairy farm in the heart of Somerset, making award-winning cheeses from our very own cows’ milk. At Westcombe we believe that great cheese starts with great milk – so we spoil our cows rotten! From the quality of what they eat to the condition of the land they graze on, we do everything we can to make sure our cows’ milk is of the highest quality. And it’s the quality of the milk, along with our hand-crafted approach in the dairy and use of traditional starter cultures and rennets, that gives our cheeses their wonderfully complex flavours and textures.” Hells yes.
‘But Megan, what does it taste like?’ Oh, yes, that. It tastes like heaven. This is coming from a person who feels like this about cheddar: meh. I’ve really grown to love the complexities in good cheddars now that I am surrounded by them daily and have developed a stronger palate for picking up the nuances in these aged, raw milk beauties. But Westcombe is really special. They call it a five-mile cheddar because the taste, although not intense or strong, stays with you five miles down the road.
Neal’s Yard Dairy says it’s nutty, savory and has notes of caramel. Which is certainly true. And let’s face it, you don’t debate Neal’s Yard. You just don’t. They’re cheese Gods. But for me, the flavor doesn’t stop there. Sometimes fruity, sometimes sweet, each shaving I taste provides a new layer of flavor. The paste is the sum of its parts – firm yet smooth, flaky yet rich and creamy in the oddest way – not like a brie more like a luxurious richness that just spreads over your mouth. It’s just outstanding.
NYD also says this, which is stellar since you already know how I feel about animal husbandry – “Tom Calver and Robert Purchase make most of the cheese and in addition Tom manages the team that works alongside them in the dairy while his father manages the farm. One particular focus of attention for him is the way the animals are fed, always aiming for a specific ratio of fat and protein in the milk which will ensure the cheese has good body and texture and matures to have smooth, savory flavours. Their cows graze out in the fields from April to November. In addition, they receive a bit of winter ration all year. This is grass silage, maize silage, crimped wheat and soya and apart from the soya, is all grown on the farm. The reason for feeding the winter ration is to keep up the dry matter in the cows diet as this will mean better fat and protein content in the milk, which in turn means better cheese.”
This cheese has been making waves – making curds? – in the dairy world. And for good reason. It’s so simple and yet so complex. Just an approachable, easy to like cheddar but with layer upon layer of varying flavors. Plus, it’s raw milk, so it’s practically a health food. :)
Y’all already know where you can find this gem. Come taste it with me at the shop or, if you’re too far away, order it online from artisancheesecompany.com and we’ll ship it right to your cheeseboard.