Greetings from England! I am currently on a train from Manchester heading north to Edinburgh, Scotland. Having never been to the UK, I am thoroughly enjoying myself, taking in the scenery, tasting the local fare, and, of course, consuming cheese. Cheshire cheese, to be exact.
The oldest and most consumed cheese in the UK, Cheshire can be found everywhere. This chameleon of a cow’s milk cheese changes its texture and flavor depending on age and where it’s produced, with the white Cheshire seemingly being the most common. Sweet and tangy with a semi-hard texture, this cheese is a “little black dress” in that it goes with everything.
“Red” Cheshire is more popular in North Whales and gets its unique coloring, which is actually orange, from Annatto (the red pulp found in achiote trees). Harder and more hearty, this version was sold to travelers along the roadside toward Holyhead in the northern country.
Finally, there are the blues, Stilton and my personal favorite, Shropshire. Both are less creamy with more bite – Stilton has a white paste with greenish-blue veins and can only be made in the counties of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. It is extremely versatile and can be used for cooking as well as wedged for cheese plates. Shropshire is the newest edition to the Cheshire family. Introduced in 1970 by Castle Stuart dairy in Inverness, Scotland by Andy Williamson, this beefy cheese has a unique orange paste with traditional blue veins.
While all of these varieties are available stateside, the flavors just seem fresher and more pronounced here in the UK. I may be a bit biased, but it could also be the fact that it hasn’t traveled in crates overseas to the brink their aging. When I get back to the USA, I’ll have to do a taste comparison. Stay tuned for more from the UK! Until then…stay cheesy!
Photo: Reeces Cheese