No dinner party would be complete without a cheeseboard. But for those with adventurous tastebuds there's no need to stick to the usual supermarket suspects like cheddar, brie and stilton. Rhuaridh Buchanan, manager of royal cheese purveyors Paxton & Whitfield's London shop, exclusively recommends for Stylist readers his tips for must-try-once new and traditional cheeses…
These cheeses are all available from Paxton & Whitfield's three stores in London, Bath and Stratford upon Avon and from their website. For more information call 01451-823 460.
Mothais Sur Feuille
This tangy goat’s cheese, made in the Poitou-Charentes region of Western France, comes from cheesemaker Paul Georgelet. Paul learned his skills from watching the older women in his village make cheese when he was younger and 90% of the milk used in his cheeses come from his own goats. The unique cheese is oval and is wrapped in a dried chestnut leaf, which takes moisture from the dried cheese, retaining it and returning to the cheese when it needs it. Mothais Sur Feuille has a full complex and rich flavour with a creamy, firm texture. (£6.75 each/230g)
This delicious organic cheese uses milk from Friesian and Simmental/Monbelliarde cows; both breeds are recognised for the quality of their milk. It's made on Gorsehill Abbey Farm, on the edge of the Vale of Evesham. With an appealing crinkly rind that is mild and firm when young, it develops a bigger flavour with a creamier texture as it ages. The flavour is robust but has a great finesse and delicacy. An irresistable example of a soft English cheese. (£6.00/250g)
This is one of the only traditionally made, farmhouse, clothbound Cheshire cheeses produced in the UK. Made by the Appleby family at Abbey Farm in Hawkstone, Shropshire, it's a classic artisan farmhouse cheese that can be enjoyed by everyone. The Friesian herd grazes on pastures that grow on the Cheshire plain, beneath which are rich salt and mineral deposits. These flavours come through in the grass and add subtle mineral flavours to the cheese. With a moist crumbly texture, the cheese has a savoury taste. It achieves its light orange colour by the addition of annato. (£20.00/kg)
One of the most popular hard cheeses in France and a great alternative to cheddar, Comté Androuët is traditionally produced in the mountains of Jura where farmers bring their milk down to local cooperatives managed by villagers. It takes 530 litres of milk, the equivalent of the daily production of 30 cows, to make one Comté cheese weighing 45kg. The surface of the rind has a moist, cool ochre colour that is regularly wiped with brine whilst maturing leaving the cheese inside firm and supple. The result is a melt in the mouth cheese which leaves a sweet taste and a subtle nutty tang. (£31.00/kg)
An unusual cheese as it is one of few blue goat’s milk cheeses made in Great Britain, Harbourne Blue is made by Robin Congdon in the Devon's Dart Valley from milk produced by goats that graze on Dartmoor. The cheese has the bright whiteness of goat’s milk cheeses which contrasts with its blue veining. Matured for up to four months, it has an aromatic spicy flavour with a bit of a bite and an underlying sweetness. A great alternative to Stilton, this cheese has all the hallmarks of a great blue cheese with a wonderful creamy flavour. (£33.00/kg)