Food & Drink: All ripe on the night

Over the past 10 years the number of British cheeses has quadrupled. But where are they?

If you were asked what Archie's Choice, Cardinal Sin, or Jove's Balls had in common, cheese is unlikely to be the first thing to spring to mind. Yet, they are just a few of the 450 unique varieties now made by British cheesemakers.

But, once you know what they are, where do you find them? The problem is that each type is produced by a single small cheesemaker unlike say, France, where hundreds of small cheesemakers produce the same type of cheese. Consequently these British cheeses are often only found in the region where they are made, or in London.

Check out your local cheese shop or farmers' markets. But, rather than expect to find a specific cheese, you will need to be flexible. If you can't find the one you love, love the one you're with, because each one is the product of a dedicated cheesemaker, influenced by the vagaries of climate, soil, even the type and breed of animal providing the milk.

Fortunately, with the four-fold increase in the number of artisan cheeses over the past 10 years, specialist cheese shops and delis have sprung up which recognise the importance of providing ripe local cheeses to satisfy the public's increasingly demanding palates.

Scotland: Ann Dorwood makes three superb cheeses in Ayrshire: Dunlop from cows' milk, Swinlee from the ewe's and Bonnet from her herd of mischievous goats. The Bonnet is pure white inside but coated in pale yellow wax or left to develop a fine, grey, crusty rind. Distinct, but not strong, its aromatic character hints at marzipan and hawthorn. Anne's produce is aged and sold by Iain Mellis The Cheesemonger, alongside 70 cheeses from Britain and Ireland, at 30A Victoria Street, Edinburgh, 0131-226 6215 and 492 Great Western Road, Glasgow 0141-339 8998 (and mail order).

Cumbria and the North: Cheeses from the unspoilt dales of Yorkshire can trace their ancestry back to the arrival of the Cistercian monks in the 11th century. In recent years, many new cheeses, based on old recipes, have begun to appear, like Mrs Bell's Blue, a ewes' milk blue from Justin Bell at Shepherds Purse, Thirsk. Creamy, like mature Stilton but moister, it has a distinct, though not vicious, spicy blue tang. One of the most accessible farm shops in the area is Low Sizergh Barn, Low Sizergh Farm, Sizergh, 01539 560426, near Kendal. They offer an excellent range of local cheeses. (Mail order available.)

Cambridge and Lincolnshire: A prevailing easterly wind blows in off the North Sea and dries out the fields in summer so it's no shock that the number of cheeses made in the Eastern counties can be counted on one hand. But both local food lovers and the media were surprised when Lincolnshire Poacher, made by Simon Jones in Alford, won supreme champion at the 1996 British Cheese Awards. Hard, almost chewy, it is fruity, savoury with a lip-puckering bite on the finish. The dearth of local cheeses has not daunted the Cambridge Cheese Company, All Saints Passage, Cambridge, 01223 328672, which boasts more than 100 well-kept farmhouse cheeses from Britain, Ireland and Europe.

Wales: John Savage, originally from Holland but now based in Llandysul, was best known for his Gouda-like Teifi Farmhouse until he created an unusual washed rind cheese with the help of cheese expert James Aldridge. The result was Celtic Promise, a small, terracotta, dumpling with a supple texture, pungent aroma and sweet-sour spicy character. It was voted supreme champion in 1998. Avid supporter of Welsh cheeses, Tom Innes at Irma Fingal- Rock, 64 Monnow St, Monmouth, 01600 712 372, has created a haven for food lovers. (Mail order available.)

Somerset and Devon: Amode Katiyar of newly-established Monastery Cheese in Nether Stowey, makes washed-rind cheeses using cow, ewe and even buffalo milk. Their sticky orange rinds hum with activity as they ripen. The earthy sweet milk, from one of three British herds of water buffalo, lends itself to these frequent washings. The result of all this is a cheese called Bishop Gold, with a smoky, vaguely meaty aroma and taste, and a smooth, dense interior. Country Cheeses in the Harlequin Shopping Centre, Exeter, 01392 494049, mainly stocks West Country cheeses, all displayed with useful tasting notes. (Mail order available.)

The South-East: Cheese-making, unlike wine, rarely attracts interest from the rich or famous. Actor Terence Stamp has proved the exception, bringing his creative skills and humour to the cheese world with two organic cheeses, Troy and Priscilla, made by Sussex High Weald Dairy, near Uckfield. Priscilla is a charming, frothy number, sprinkled with organic rose and marigold petals. Delicate, moist and pure white, it melts like ice-cream on the palate with a lingering sweetness from the ewes' milk on the finish. Jeff Webb sells cheese from most of the 23 local producers at Harvest Deli, 46 West Street, Alresford, Hants, 01962 733189, an impressively stocked, if chaotic village shop.

For information on cheese shops in your area contact the Specialist Cheesemakers Association, PO Box 448, Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire, ST5 0BF or The British Cheese Awards, Old Woolman's House, Hastings Hill, Oxon. OX7 6NA.

Juliet Harbutt chairs the British Cheese Awards. Her latest book is `Cheese: a complete guide to over 300 cheeses of distinction' (Mitchell Beazley pounds 16.99)

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas