Tenacres Cheese

I bet Gillian Clough didn’t imagine she’d be scooping national prizes for her cheese within a year of start-up; after all she’s got a day job working as a radiographer at Bradford Royal Infirmary.

Together with husband Tim she runs a small holding on the hills above Hebden Bridge where they keep a few rare-breed sheep and eight goats – just for fun, in the beginning. But what started as a hobby became a business when Gillian realised that her beloved Anglo Nubian goats produced incredibly rich milk, perfect for cheese making. She learned the basics at The School of Artisan Food under the tutelage of world-renowned maker Ivan Larcher before embarking on production; she now makes a fresh, creamy cheese unique to the Pennines.

It’s a tricky business – for a start the pasture has to be right, and it took Gillian and Tim a year or so to get the drainage and water supply sorted before the goats could graze on the land. She finally got full approval from Environmental Health in May 2015 and began to make cheese to sell. At the same time she entered her ‘Gat’ (meaning goat in Anglo Saxon) in the British Cheese Awards and won Bronze. In November the same year she won Gold in the Specialists Class at the World Cheese Awards (33 countries represented, 2700 cheeses entered!) It’s an extraordinary achievement, and just goes to show; small can be beautiful AND successful. Oh, and we fell a little bit in love with her sweet, friendly, curious goats (though my jumper now has nibble holes in it ..)

Find Gillian’s cheese at Valley Organics in Hebden Bridge, Czerwick’s Deli in Brighouse and at Andy Swinscoe’s Courtyard Dairy in Settle from March.


The Etivaz is in

We love Andy Swinscoe’s little cheese shop, the Courtyard Dairy in Settle. And, oh boy … what he doesn’t know about cheese isn’t worth knowing, so when he tells you that the Etivaz is in, it’s time to listen.

Swinscoe_Courtyard_DairyIt might sound like an anagram, but actually Etivaz is an Alpine cheese made on small farms during the summer months between May and October. I bought some last Christmas and can confirm it is superb with a wonderful flavour that suggests something deep and ancient. Andy describes it as a cross between aged Gruyère and Comté, but ‘with an extra depth of flavour from being made over an open fire’.  Watch his film of the Swiss couple making their Etivaz in a chalet up a mountain, right out of a scene from Heidi. And when you’ve seen it, go order your cheese!





Say Cheese

So what do you do when the kids have left home and you find yourself with time on your hands? Bridge? Pilates? Knitting? No such gentle pastimes for Elizabeth Snowdon. She arrived home one day and announced she was going to start looking for premises and make a dairy. As you do. ‘My husband wasn’t altogether shocked’ she says ‘I’ve made cheese for family and friends for years, and I’ve always had the thought that one day I’d like to do it properly’. After some hunting she found a small corner at St Hilda’s in Whitby and set to.

Staithes Jan 2015 015

She’s working in a space about the size of a bathroom, and the ‘shop’ at the front is even smaller – but as we know, size isn’t everything, and the half dozen cheeses she’s making are fabulous. She’s using milk from a Jersey herd from Sleights; Whitby Jet is a smooth, rich and creamy cheddar whilst Endeavour is sweet and milky, with earthy tones. My favourite though is Sandsend which is suffused with a subtle umami flavour provided by gold Kelp and green Pepper Dulse seaweed. I know! Elizabeth exhibits the zeal of a woman who’s found her stride and will happily give you one tasting after another. If you don’t take a piece of all of them home you’re made of sterner stuff than me.

The shop is open Thursday to Saturday, or head for stockists Bothams on Skinner Street in town. The Whitby Cheese Co. The Dairy, St Hilda’s Centre,Whitby YO22 4ET. 074777 08777


Top Christmas Cheeses

Courtyard DairyWe raved about Andy and Kathy Swinscoe’s fabulous shop, the Courtyard Dairy in Settle last Christmas and make no apology for doing so again this year. It’s where we buy our Christmas cheeses and you should too.

Take a look at his awards: Cheesemonger of the Year, (World Cheese Awards 2013); Top 20 Cheese Shops in the World (Daily Telegraph 2015); Runner Up – Best Independent Retailer (Observer Food Monthly 2015).

Andy’s a lovely chap, too. Last year Squidbeak spent an entertaining evening with him at Outside the Box in Ilkley where we ran a Christmas Quiz and Andy gave a cheese tasting. He’s a great speaker and a cheese expert like no other. As an affineur he knows how to look after his cheeses, bring them on and sell them in perfect condition.

If you can’t get to Settle, you can still buy your cheese online and if you order before 30 November and mention Squidbeak, you will receive a special £5 voucher to spend in the new year.

So with this in mind, we asked Andy to put together three Christmas cheeseboards. This is what he came up with.


The Courtyard 014Christmas with a Twist:

A mix of farm-made and award winning cheeses.  A buttery tangy 12-month Cheddar; a creamy rich Lancashire; a powerful British Camembert and a fresh light-goats milk.  All topped off with Stichelton – a rich toasty unpasteurised blue that gives the best Stilton’s a run for their money.


New Cheeses on the Block: 

Britain’s artisan cheese scene is blooming. Champion the best of British cheeses by serving four of the newest creations: a fresh, creamy goats’ milk; a nutty, butterscotch-hard, Alpine-style; the running and ripe Rollright and a brilliant smooth blue with an amazing depth of flavour.


World Cheese Award Winners: 

Every year the World Cheese Awards gingerly gives out ‘Super Golds’ to the best 50 cheeses in the world.  This box includes four of these amazing and sought-after ‘Super Golds’: the fruity aromatic Capra Nouveau; a fresh, lactic Caerphilly; tangy and powerful vintage Old Winchester and the smooth and creamy Cote Hill Blue.


Order before 30th November and get a £5 voucher for 2016

(* £5 voucher redeemable in Jan – March 2016; please mention on the checkout that you heard about the Courtyard Dairy through Squidbeak to get your voucher)


Courtyard for Christmas

AndyKathyIs there no stopping the Courtyard Dairy, the magnificent cheese shop just outside Settle? We’ve written about their opening and their Best New Cheese Retailer Award at the  British Cheese Awards. Now they have wiped the board with ‘Best Cheese Counter’ and ‘Cheesemonger of the Year’ awards at the BBC Good Food Show.

So what better place for your Christmas cheese, (and they are offering Squidbeak readers 10% off) than here, but you need to know why these guys are so good.

First of all Andy Swinscoe is an affineur which means he’s forgotten more about cheese than most of ever knew and is a specialist at ageing cheese, knowing just how to store, turn, mature and sample the cheeses in his care. They get so much love it’s no wonder they taste terrific.

He learned all this stuff while working for some of the biggest names in cheese: Paxton and Whitfield in London and Hervé Mons in France – probably the world’s top affineur –  before opening in Settle, at Bath’s Fine Cheese Company.

Botton cheeseSo what to buy for Christmas? If you want a Yorkshire cheese then try  Dale End Cheddar from Botton Village Creamery on the North York Moors. We’ve always loved Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire, and Andy stocks the slower maturing 20kg rounds. Vacherin Mont d’Or is a beautiful soft gooey cheese packed in spruce bark boxes and only available in winter so a truly special seasonal cheese.

Also on my Christmas list will be: Cote Hill Blue from Lincolnshire; the beautifully crumpled Langres; some salami from Greve in Chianti where I long ago had a holiday; a link or two of Three Little Pigs Yorkshire chorizo; Arran oatcakes; and Elspeth Biltoft’s lovely Rosebud Preserves from the Dales. But you don’t need us to tell you, just browse their website and you’ll be bowled over not only by their knowledge of fine cheese, but their selection.

Go in person if you can for the full Swinscoe experience, failing that order online before the end of December and get a Squidbeak discount.

They’re offering Squidbeak reader’s 10% off the first online order made before 31st December. Just use the code SQUID on checkout and you will have yourself some very fine cheeses with a not to be sniffed at discount.

The Courtyard Dairy, The Courtyard, Cleatop, A65, Settle, North Yorkshire, BD24 9JY

Telephone: 01729 892 902

Email: andy.s@thecourtyarddairy.co.uk

Website: www.thecourtyarddairy.co.uk

Mon – Sat: 9.30 – 17.30

Sun: 10.30 – 16.30



Botton Cheese

If there was an annual prize for the best Yorkshire cheeses then I’m sure you’d find the Botton Village Dairy regularly on the podium. Dale End Cheddar,  the powerful Moorland Tomme, and Summer Fields the Swiss-style Yorkshire Gouda are all superb cheeses made by head cheesemaker Alastair Pearson and his team at the Camphill Village community of Botton Village, at the far end of Danby Dale within the North York Moors National Park. This special community is where people with special needs and learning disabilities live and work together with 150 co-workers in a caring and nurturing community.

When we first reported on the dairy we could only find the cheeses in a couple of local shops and on the tables of the  Star at Harome, now that it’s becoming better known and enjoyed the dairy can barely keep up with demand. If you want to buy it, you can call at the dairy or buy from one of the best cheese suppliers in the UK: The Courtyard Dairy in Settle, where Andy Swinscoe matures the Dale End Cheddar for 18 months.



Botton Village

The Botton Village Shop

Botton Village in Danby Dale, nestling beneath the North York Moors, is a remarkable place: five farms, 280 people half of whom have learning disabilities or special needs all living together as a community in which those with special needs share their home and life with those who support and work with them.

It’s all part of the admirable Camphill Village Trust, a charity inspired by Rudolph Steiner whose philosophy was based on the principles of  mutual support and respect in which everyone works to help each other rather than for personal reward.  So spending a few bob in the food store gives you the double whammy of taste-good and feel-good.

The shop is packed with loads of good things; groceries and wholefood, their own herbal tea, jams and pressed apple juice, bread and cakes from their bakery and seasonal organic and biodynamic fruit and veg from the farms.  I came away with apples, beetroot, onions and three glowing orange pumpkins.

My greatest delight though was the creamery. Cheese is back in production after a number of barren years, now that Alastair, the new cheesemaker has joined the community and he’s doing a great job. In the cheese room on slatted wooden shelves are rows and rows of luscious raw milk cheeses that are turned, rind washed and gently nurtured every day.

Botton Gouda

They make three cheeses – a camembert style is still in the development phase. Botton Gouda is a sweet, mild Gouda-style cheese, with or without cumin, and a million miles from the rubbery supermarket stuff. There’s a strong, tangy rinded  Moorland Tomme, made in a block and aged for 18 months – it looks cracked and ancient like something the monks at nearby Whitby Abbey might have made centuries ago. And then there’s Dale End, a gorgeously nutty muslim wrapped cheddar-style cheese, wonderful with Botton grown apples or a slice of  fruit cake. All the cheeses are made with unpasteurised milk, giving them a deep, rounded richness. They’re modestly priced and absolutely terrific.

Botton Village, Danby, Nr Whitby, North Yorkshire YO21 2NJ Open Mon-Fri 9am-12 noon & 2pm-5pm Sat 9am-12 noon.

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