I came across Claire Burt's 'Burt's Blue' cheese while looking for local pairings for our 2nd Cheese & Cider night back in October last year (you can see few pics of that event HERE). We kept in touch and recently I got a call asking if we could supply a few bottles of our donor cider for some experimentation in her kitchen. Now I thought we worked in cramped conditions in the shipping container but her tiny wedged shaped workspace has to be seen to be believed. So two bottle of cider were picked up about 4 weeks ago and little did I know what treats were in store when a few weeks later Claire dropped off three carefully wrapped waxed-paper parcels of cheesy goodness.
Those in the know will be familiar with the now infamous 'Stinking Bishop', a rather pongy cheese from experts Charles Martell in Dymock, Gloucestershire. They use perry for its washing-down and this has been Claire's inspiration for working with us and our cider for a variation on her delightful little blue cheeses.
In return for my cider what did I get for my cheese board? There was a pierced blue, a regular truckle of cider-washed cheese and an intriguing 23 day, air-dried, which definitely felt firmer.
Now I'm by no means a cheese connoisseur but here is my run down:
Cheese 1 - Washed twice and pierced
It's the piercing here that gives this one its character and that 'Burt's Blue' finish. It's super-creamy with a distinct blue taste but not one that will stink up your fridge.
Cheese 2 – Washed twice and left to mature
Creamy, slightly firm centre with a soft outer, similar in texture to a brie with a blue-cheese twang.
Cheese 3 - Washed twice and left to air dry for 23 days
Similar to the above although the big difference being this one has a firmer centre, almost crumbly but with a velvety finish on the palette.
I'm sure that with further experimentation, of which I'm more than happy to be a guinea pig, Claire will perfect this cheese and perhaps together we can bring it to a deli near you.
It's these chance meetings and collaborations that really get me excited. It's the over-and-above stuff that you can't imagine would happen when you set out to make a locally produced product. And I love the fact that we're pairing local with local which was at the heart of our last cheese and cider event at Common. We'll no doubt revive this event for this year's Manchester Food & Drink festival... so watch this space.
We'll be sure to keep you in the loop if this one reaches a farmers' market or deli near you.