One thing that we all love about a holiday is the chance to experience some delicious gastronomical delights, and sample some truly local cuisine. Devon is famous for cream teas and Scotland is renowned for haggis, but you might be surprised to know that the UK has a huge selection of locally produced and award-winning cheeses as well – over 700 varieties, in fact.
In honour of the International Cheese Festival and World Cheese Awards on 16-18 November, we’ve put together a mouth-watering selection of local flavours to explore, creating the perfect cheese board for your holiday indulgence.
Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire cheeses
Let’s start with a soft, curdy cheese from Leicestershire that complements both sweet and savoury palettes. Originally invented in the 17th Century, the Colwick Cheese is a unique bowl shape. Four hundred years ago the locals would often fill it with fruit or cream, or a more savoury onion and garlic. We’re sure you would enjoy it with a delicious, warm crusty bread as well.
If you are a fan of blue cheese you’ll love the award-winning Stichelton, made on the Nottinghamshire Welbeck Abbey estate. Made from raw milk that is pumped directly from the milking parlour next door to the dairy, Stichelton has an unusual orangey red crust and a beautiful flavour that matures sumptuously.
Both cheeses are sold by Maxeys Farm Shop, just a short drive away from our Sherwood Forest location. And you won’t be stumped for choice – Maxey’s has over 70 cheeses to choose from.
Heading down to the south-west, it has to be Cornish Blue from the Cornish Cheese Co. Recently voted the People’s Choice at the Great British Cheese awards, this hand-made mild and creamy cheese has a dense texture and buttery richness and, rather than the salty tang of many blue cheeses, it has a gentle sweetness. The dairy is on the edge of Bodmin Moor, just a short drive from Deerpark.
If you are staying at our Blackwood Forest location you might enjoy a trip to the nearby farmer’s market at Winchester, where you’ll find a fine selection of local cheeses, including the delicious range of semi-hard to soft handmade goats’ cheeses from Hansus Cottage Cheeses, made using milk from their own herd.
For a more continental style Gouda try the award-winning Lyburn Gold, made on Lyburn Farm. A family run business, the dairy also produces a buttery, milder Stoney Cross and a hard yellow Winchester, similar to a cheddar. For something a little more unusual, try the Lyburn Garlic and Nettle.
From the idyllic Forest of Dean you’ll discover the rich mellow taste of Smart’s Traditional Double Gloucester. This handmade cheese has been used in the now unofficial Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling on Cooper’s Hill since 1988. The annual race began at least as far back as the 1800s and continues to this day.
Norfolk and Suffolk cheeses
Norfolk White Lady is a creamy brie-style cheese made by Jane Murray at her farm near Wymondham, not far from Thorpe Forest. If you are staying at Thorpe Forest for the weekend, enjoy a trip out to the 800 year old Wymondham Market on Saturday where you will find Norfolk White Lady and a host of other local cheeses at Christie’s Cheese stall.
Down in Suffolk, there is a little hotbed of cheese making, about 30 miles south of Thorpe Forest. Here you will find, among others, Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses, whose Suffolk Gold is a rich golden semi hard cheese and Rodwell Farm Dairy, serving up the delicious Hawkston – a Suffolk variation on the crumbly cheeses of Lancashire and Cheshire. Both cheeses are widely available locally.
Of course, Yorkshire has a long history of cheese making, with its origins in the monasteries of the 11th Century. Aside from the famous Wensleydale cheese, made into a household name around the world by Wallace and Gromit, there is a large number of small farmhouse manufacturers.
Try the creamy mould-ripened Bluemin White, handmade from cow’s milk, or the Mediterranean salad style Yorkshire Fettle and Mrs Bell’s Blue, made from ewe’s milk. Each variety comes from Shepherds Purse Artisan Cheeses. The dairy is an hour’s scenic drive from our Cropton and Keldy cabins but, if that’s too far, the cheeses are stocked almost on your doorstep at the Cedarbarn farm shop just outside Pickering. Put your feet up in your luxury cabin and indulge – just don’t forget the crackers.
The beautiful mountains and forests of Scotland are the perfect setting to produce a rich milk from the local herds, which in turn creates a plethora of local cheeses. If you are staying in Ardgartan Argyll or Strathyre, try the delicious Knockraich Crowdie from the artisan dairy at Knockraich Farm, or discover Smoked Dunlop and Paddy’s Milestone, from the farmhouse Dunlop Dairy.
There is the array of cheeses on offer from Connage Highland Dairy. With every cheese made from the milk of their own organic herd of 150 cows, Connage offer a choice of hard and soft cheeses and you can buy them online if the Inverness address looks a bit too far to travel! And it is here that we find a delicately flavoured brie – the Connage Clava – the perfect finish to our national cheese board.