Saturday 16 April 2016

Made in Dorset #1 - The Cheese Board

Shining a spotlight on Dorset's signature products, we start with the local cheeses that round off many a great dinner. From reviving 300-year-old traditions, to playing around with fresh ideas, Dorset cheese-making is ripe, full of culture, and reaching maturity. 


You'll have seen celebrity chefs including Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall singing the praises of Woolsery Cheese's spectacular goats cheeses. If you didn't, rest assured that the farm's specialty is a former winner of the Best Goats Cheese in the UK award. The farm at Up Sydling, just outside Dorchester, also produces Feta- and Camembert-style cheeses. Find out more here.

Dorset gourmet woolsery goats cheese


James McCall learnt his craft working under the late James Aldridge, often credited with leading the renaissance in British farmhouse cheese-making. Think of the Tornegus, for example. Later, James became head cheese-maker at Daylesford Organic, where he produced an award-winning cheddar and Penyston. Today, James produces his cheeses at Gold Hill Organic Farm in Child Okeford and for Cranborne Chase Cheeses. He specialises in washed rind cheeses. Try the Francis, a pungent, semi-soft cow's cheese named in honour of James Aldridge; the Burwood Bole, a log-shaped unpasteurised cow's milk cheese; and the Little Colonel. Read more here...

Burwood Bole from James's

Blue Vinny used to be the county's Stilton or Cheddar - a signature specialty tied to a specific location. But the crumbly white cheese with the blue mould fell out of fashion and could have disappeared from the cheese board forever. Luckily, in 1980 farmer Mike Davies at Woodbridge Farm near Sturminster Newton revived production. The family now retain the unique rights to produce Blue Vinny, and have expanded to production of chutneys and soups through the Dorset Blue Soup Co. You can buy a big 6kg truckle, a 'mini Vinny' or a seasonal serving in the distinctive ceramic pot. Despite its wonderful taste, Blue Vinny is a low fat cheese suitable for vegans. Find out more here...

Dorset Blue Vinny


Manor Farm in Cranborne is blessed with a single herd of Friesian cows in a rural North Dorset setting. In 2011, the farm decided to push things further with production of Chalke Valley Cheeses. Alison French and Sue James sourced antique cheese presses and cheese vats and secured the help of James McCall. In just a few years, the farm's cheeses are making a name for themselves. Try the Cranborne, a creamy Camembert-shaped cheese with a mushroomy rind; the Dorset White, a tangy, creamy unpasteurised cheese in a log shape; Tilly Whim; Old Harry, a hard cheese; and Tregonwell, a Caerphilly-style cheese. Find out more here...

Chalke Valley Cheese

If you'd like to share how you use them, or point out any that I've missed, leave a comment below...

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