At the weekend, seven of us, friends and neighbours, travelled up Ribblesdale for a cheese tasting expedition to Andy Swinscoe’s superb cheese shop at the Courtyard Dairy on the A65 just south of Settle.
Mandy reported on the opening in 2013 and since then Andy and Kathy have gone from strength to strength, picking up a swathe of awards along the way. Simply, it is one of the best cheese counters in Britain.
This is no surprise when you see the wonderful cave, carved out of a farm and barn conversion; a cool and tiny, windowless shop, packed with 30 farmhouse cheeses, many of them unpasteurised, hand picked, nurtured and matured by Andy. Yes, 30 not 130. Quality before quantity. You need an almighty turnover to keep 130 cheeses in peak condition.
A self-confessed cheese nerd, Andy took us through a tasting of a dozen or so cheeses, with the stories behind them. We sampled two of Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashires made only a day apart but with subtle differences in flavour; Michael Thomson’s Young Buck, a gentle blue cheese from Northern Ireland; the buttery Hafod Welsh cheddar; and Dale End and Moorland Tomme made at Botton Village on the North York Moors.
You can order online but better still take a trip to Settle. Elsewhere in the Courtyard is a little brasserie, biodynamic wine, a gallery, furniture and Abraham Moon’s Yorkshire tweed. Or with a selection of lovely artisan cheeses in your basket, do as we did and explore the winding back roads through limestone country, dropping into Wharfedale for lunch on rabbit pie at the Craven Arms in Appletreewick. Sorted.