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!

 

 

 

 

Courtyard Dairy

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.

Swinscoe_Courtyard_Dairy

Andy Swinscoe of the Courtyard Dairy, Settle

 

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.

 

Courtyard_cheese

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.

 

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

 

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)

 

Wensleydale Cheese

‘We stand in reverence and awe as we gaze at the ruins of Fountains or Jervaulx, but the true and lasting memorial is not in the stately ruins but in the miles and miles of limestone walls and that peacetime delicacy, a ripe blue-veined Wensleydale cheese’.

Kit Calvert, ‘Wensleydale Cheese’ 1946.

Wensleydale cheese is one of our great ‘territorials’ one of a group of British cheeses like Lancashire, Cheshire, Cheddar, named after the region in which it is made. Its history, though, is as turbulent as modern day banking – a story of boom, near bust and back again.

The first clue that cheese was being made in the Dales comes from a Roman curd strainer dug up at Bainbridge in Upper Wensleydale, but it was the Cistercian monks who brought over the technique for the blue ewe’s milk cheese they were making in Roquefort and Burgundy. By 1150 they were making cheese at Fors Abbey near Bainbridge before moving on to gentler Jervaulx.

It must have been a lovely cheese. The limestone pastures of the monastic granges would have delivered superb milk. The dank cellars and storage vaults coupled with the natural moulds that flourished in the stone would have created the blue veins and by all accounts it had a rich, spreadable consistency.

Down the centuries Wensleydale cheese evolved from a blue to a white cheese and cow’s milk gradually replaced ewe’s milk. By the 19th century farmhouse cheese-making had spread across Coverdale, Swaledale and Cotherstone. At Yarm Fair 1,000 cheeses were reportedly for sale.

Local businessman Kit Calvert became a Yorkshire hero when he formed the Wensleydale Cheesemakers Association in an effort to save traditional Wensleydale cheese-making. But by the 1960s the restrictions imposed by the Milk Marketing Board meant it all but died out in the Dales. Before the Second World War there were 433 farmhouse cheese-makers in the Dales twenty years later there was none.

Factory cheese-making survived only in Hawes, at the Wensleydale Creamery but it was a bland, white, boring cheese hardly worth saving. In 1992 when Dairy Crest announced their intention to relocate Wensleydale production to Lancashire, there was uproar but a management buy-out saved the day.

Today Wensleydale cheese is successfully produced at the Wensleydale Creamery at Hawes. It is the largest cheese maker in the Dales, and it’s quite a set up with cheese tours, a tea room and a shop all promoting their flagship brand ‘Real Yorkshire Wensleydale’.

But they are not the only cheese-makers in the region. A handful of small producers are making some lovely and distinctive Wensleydale-style and regional cheeses.

In Teesdale Joan Cross has been making the mild creamy Cotherstone for years. Available from the Yorkshire Dales Cheese Company and Cotherstone Post Office. Iain Hill  began making cheese in 1978 from a dilapidated farm at Horton in Ribblesdale. Today his niece Iona carries on the tradition of the Ribblesdale Cheese Company at their base in Hawes and while they predominantly produce goat’s milk cheese, they do make a little Wensleydale.

They’re not Wensleydales, but some of the best regional cheeses comes from the dairy at the Camphill Village community at Botton village on the North York Moors. Look out for Yorkshire Tomme, Dale End Cheddar and Gouda.

It’s heresy to say so but one of the loveliest Dales cheeses, though it began life in Bedale, is now made in Lancashire but if you come across Suzanne Stirk’s King Richard III Wensleydale, snap it up. She was at the forefront of the cheese revival, and it’s a lovely cheese.

You won’t find Richard III in any supermarket, but Booths do source some excellent cheeses. But in our view, the very best cheesemonger in the region is the Courtyard Dairy at Settle run by Andy and Kathy Swinscoe who source the best British and continental cheeses, can tell you their provenance and keep them and sell them in perfect condition. Buy from the shop or online.

The last word though goes to Judy Bell who began making Shepherds Purse cheeses at the family farm near Thirsk in the 1980s. Today her cheeses are distributed nationwide. The range of soft, blue-veined ewe’s milk cheeses have  origins that are echoed in those early French cheeses made by the Cistercian monks way up at Jervaulx, happily bringing the story full circle.

 

The Ultimate Christmas Cheeseboard

Squidbeak have long flown the flag for the wonderful Courtyard Dairy in Settle. Andy and Kathy Swinscoe opened their specialist cheese shop in 2012 and have since picked up every cheese award going: Best Cheese Retailer at the 2013 British Cheese Awards; Cheesemonger of the Year at the World Cheese Awards 2013 oh and more.

Now they are stocking up on their Christmas cheeses. Have a browse of their website where Andy explains how to put together a memorable Christmas cheeseboard.

StOswald lgeYou could take his suggestions for a British and Irish cheeseboard with Old Winchester: a Cheddar/Gouda cross made in the New Forest; Killeen, a goats’ milk cheese from Ireland and the soft, Brie-like St Oswald from the Cotswolds, For blue, Andy suggests Cote Hill  Blue from Lincolnshire and Anster from Anstruther in Fife, to go with the Christmas cake.

My choice would be a beautiful Vacherin Mont D’Or, the fabulous, runny cheese that comes in a spruce bark box and is only available in winter; Richard III Wensleydale  or a buttery Lancashire like Mrs Kirkham’s. For blue, I’ll be going for the nutty, unpasteurised Stichelton.

The Courtyard Dairy are offering  Squidbeak readers free chutney and crackers when they spend more than £25 on orders placed before 8th December.

When ordering, write on the Special Instructions: SQUIDBEAK SUBSCRIBER.

www.courtyarddairy.co.uk

 

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

 

 

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