WHAT IS CHESHIRE?
In the 1964 publication The Cheese Book, the author’s note that the French refused to call Cheshire by its proper name. Instead they called it “Chester”. But the writers Marquis and Haskell go on to mention that the British didn’t take any offense to this. They found it extraordinary that the French even knew the name of any English cheese.
Meant to be a moist and crumbly, it is not meant to be as dry as a Tasty Lancashire. Depending on who’s making it, Cheshire can also be a hard cheese. Brewer’s Dictionary theorizes that Cheshire cheese used to be made in grinning cat molds, and was the basis for the Alice in Wonderland character.
WHERE IS CHESHIRE MADE?
Invented in the county of the same name, it is one of the oldest cheeses in Britain. Located in northwest, England this area borders Wales and was created around the same time that the Domesday Book came out (and mentions this cheese). Over the years it has been whittled down in size. And while they are most famous for their cheese, apparently this part of England has had salt mines since the days of Rome.
SUFFOLK FARMERS SAY “SCREW THIS” AND SWITCH TO BUTTER
Cheshire cheese was relatively unknown in the capital. Most of the cheese being shipped into the English capital was from Suffolk . However in the 1640’s floods and disease killed a lot of the dairy cattle there. Farmers switched to butter production, and Cheshire farmers stepped into the limelight with their cheaper and now better tasting cheese (Suffolk started using skimmed milk).
WHAT CAN I PAIR WITH CHESHIRE CHEESE?
Fruits such as apples or pears work well. Also white wines like Chardonnays or a Jurancon Sec work well. Even some red wines like Syrah or Cote du Rhone can work with a higher quality Cheshire. Beers such as ale or even hard ciders taste nice with a crumbly bite of this dairy delight. For UK cheese flights, it is hard to stay completely away from the rest of the cheddar family. Look to a nice blue like Stilton or Blacksticks. A very nice, aged Cheddar could work or even a Caerphilly of gourmet quality.