Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Norfolk cheeses

A recent trip to Holt (and specifically, to the cheese section in Bakers and Larners) reacquainted me with Norfolk Dapple, a superb cheese made in Little Barningham. It's roughly similar to Cheddar in its texture, a dense cheese, with a rind that was turning just a little mouldy and pungent, and a mature tangy flavour and aroma. I imagine it would mature like a Manchego, to become transparent and chewy, but the Dapple I bought didn't last that long. It went well with a red onion marmalade.

Norfolk cheeses are all very different though. In France, the local traditions generally mean that there's a family resemblance between the cheeses of a region - though Normandy has separate AOCs you'll find that most of the cheeses have a creamy texture and are relatively soft and pungent. Camembert, Pont l'Eveque, Livarot, Neufchatel are all vaguely similar, though each has its own specific character. In England, there's no such tradition - cheesemakers have pretty much a blank sheet, particularly in a county with no great traditional cheese.

Binham Blue, for instance, is a quite different animal from Dapple - another cow's milk cheese, but a slightly squashy blue-veined cheese, quite tangy but also creamy in both texture and taste. This was an enjoyable cheese, not quite as soft as a Roquefort in texture, and with a pronounced tang, yet without any ammoniac nose.

Wighton Cheese comes from the same cheesemaker, near Wells next the Sea, and it's a much softer, fresher cheese, without too much creaminess and with a nicely delicate taste.

While the selection of Norfolk cheeses was good, it wasn't quite up to what we're used to in France - but the quality of the cheeses, I think, is up to the mark.

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