Not only some of our favourites, but six of the UK’s best award-winning cheese, all produced within the counties of Kent and Sussex.
At Maws we’ve built a big part of our business on seeking out and supplying the kind of great local produce that benefits professional catering businesses whose reputations rest on delivering quality. And when it comes to sourcing amazing British cheese, made with craft and care from the finest local ingredients, it’s no exaggeration to say that the south-east of England is going through a true renaissance.
So we’ve decided to devote this blog to introducing five cheeses from our corner of the world that are some of very favourites. It’s taken far longer to select them than it has to write them up here, but together they represent the amazing diversity of artisan cheese being created here, and individually they all have at least one national or international award to their name…
Kentish Blue – from the Kingcott Dairy
There’s certainly no mistaking where this delectable blue cheese hails from. Originally dairy farmers from the West Country, Steven and Karen Reynolds bought Iden Manor Farm, a small dairy farm just outside Staplehurst in the heart of the beautiful Kent countryside in 1990 and began producing fine hand-made cheese using raw (unpasturised) milk only from their own herd of pedigree Holstein Friesian and Danish Red cows.
The couple firmly believe that happy, healthy cows produce the best tasting milk, and ensure the whole milking herd has free access to their fields for grazing during spring, summer and autumn. The result, when turned into cheese, is Kentish Blue Mature, a full flavoured blue cheese with long lasting depth and spicy tones through the finish.
Sussex Charmer – Bookham & Harrison Farm
The unique recipe of Sussex Charmer produces a cheese that is a cross between a Traditional Mature Farmhouse Cheese and the classic hard Italian Parmesan. One again this superb cheese is made exclusively with milk from maker’s own herd of grass-fed, Welfare Assured dairy cows from Pallinghurst Farm in Rudgwick, where the family have been producing milk high in protien and butterfat for three generations.
This high quality milk (Bacta scan less than 50, TBC less than 200) is the essential ingredient for producing a cheese that is very creamy and full of flavour. A year after launching, Sussex Charmer received a bronze at the World Cheese Awards. It also won ‘Best New Dairy Product’ at the 2008 Nantwich International Cheese Awards (the world’s largest cheese awards). More recently it’s has won Gold at The Great Taste Awards in 2010 and 2012.
Chaucers – Cheesmakers of Cantebury
Proving the southeast of England can now make French-style soft cheeses just as well as hard-style Itaklian ones, is another award-winning cheese, this time from the highly regarded Cheesemakers of Cantebury. Chaucers is ripening camembert-style cheese made with British Friesian cow’s milk matured for three weeks to six weeks. Rich and creamy, just leave it out of the fridge on the day you eat it, and watch as it open up to bloom like a flower.
Judges who deemed it their Great Taste Award Winner in 2014 described it as beautiful cheese delivers a creamy texture and a fresh but deep flavour that goes on long into the finish,” and we couldn’t have put it better ourselves…
Lord of the Hundreds - Traditional Cheese Dairy
One of our all-time favourites, this delicious ewe’s milk cheese abounds with complex flavours of burnt caramel and hazelnuts balanced by grassy notes. Made at the Traditional Cheese Dairy is Stonegate, East Sussex, ‘Lord of The Hundreds’ is not only an award-winner but one of the very finest ewe’s milk cheeses being produced in Britain today.
Unpasteurised milk from Friesland ewes is used to make this brilliant modern cheese, which is hand ladled into baskets and left un-pressed to provide its wonderful open texture, an appearance reminiscent of ‘pave’, and a distinctive grainy texture with an occasional crystalline crunch.
Wealdway – Nut Knowle Farm
Nut Knowle Farm in Horam, East Sussex was established in 1979, and now specialises in producing a comprehensive range of vegetarian, pasteurised goats milk cheeses to suit all palates, all lovingly made by hand in the on-site dairy.
Over the past twenty years goat’s cheese has enjoyed an upsurge in popularity thanks to its exceptional flavour, its health benefits (such as lower fat content) and its versatility (it works just as well to cook with as to serve on the cheeseboard).
Wealdway Mature Ash Coated is a truly gourmet, rounded full-fat goat's cheese coated in edible charcoal with a white felt, and delivery a pungent, deliciously earthy flavour. A perfect accompaniment to everything from smoked salmon to strawberries.
Mayfield - Walker Alsop Dairy
While searching for premises to open a specialist beef restaurant Nic Walker and Arthur Alsop (a former apprentice of renowned chef Albert Roux) stumbled upon a dairy for sale in the Sussex countryside, and their adventure in cheese began. Mayfield is a semi hard wax coated cheese made from full fat pasteurised cow’s milk and similar in style to Swiss Emmenthal.
Mayfield has a creamy sweet nutty flavour, which varies in strength from mild to full dependent on age, and contains naturally developed oval shaped holes in its interior, called eyes. It is aged for 5 – 7 months and is an excellent alternative to continental Alpine cheeses.
Mayfield received a gold medal with 3 Stars at the Great Taste Awards and a gold medal at the 2010 British Cheese Awards and a gold medal at the 2011 World Cheese Awards.