R: Beenleigh Blue (2.85/100g)
One goat's milk cheese, one cow's and one sheep's; one hard, one soft and one blue; all unpasteurised - this is a great selection, chosen as always by Robbyn Linden of The Cheeseboard.
When people say they don't like goat's cheese I reckon they're recalling the acrid aftertaste at the back of the throat of one of those aged and wrinkly crottins. Le Massadel is nothing like that - it has a lovely, subtle and more-ish taste with a texture reminiscent of a mild cheddar.
We all know Taleggio - soft, melting, unthreatening, ideal as a pizza topping - but probably that's mainly the pasteurised, factory versions available from any supermarket. This one was much superior - complex and distinctive and redolent of the farmyard.
The Beenleigh is a wonderful blue cheese, both creamy and salty (I believe it is based on a Roquefort recipe); the texture reminded me of a Wensleydale. It is my favourite blue of the moment.
The three chunks shown in the photo cost me £6.94.
N.B. Just in case you didn't know, the term 'affineur' (as used by Robbyn in her notes below) is someone who selects, ripens and matures cheeses - Hervé Mons being the most famous exemplar in France, Neal's Yard Dairy here in Britain.
This is a brand new cheese that our French suppliers were very excited to introduce to us, and we immediately loved it. It is a farmhouse cheese handmade by Jean-Marie Ompraret and his son.
The Ompraret family herd cows and goats 1800 metres up a mountain called Col de Soulor in the Pyrenees. They make about 10 cheeses per day.
Once a week the local affineur, M. Calendri, selects cheeses from the farm, and matures them for 3-6 months.
Massadel is the name given to people living in the town of Massat near Lourdes.
This cheese was originally made by families during the 10th Century in the Val Taleggio which is near Bergamo in Lombardy, although it wasn’t called Taleggio until the 20th Century. The cheeses are washed in brine to prevent unwanted moulds from growing. This brine gives the cheese its signature pinkish-orange colour and also encourages the barnyard aromas and flavours associated with Taleggio. It has a supple texture and melts in your mouth. This texture makes it ideal for cooking: try it in a tart or sliced into a polenta dish.
Beenleigh, one of only three blue ewes' milk cheeses made in Britain, is made at the Ticklemore Dairy in Sharpham Barton just outside Totnes in Devon. It was created in the 1980s by former banker Robin Congdon who used his previous experience making Roquefort in France when creating this creamy and crumbly ewes milk blue cheese. He made it with his wife Sari for many years, and it is now made by Ben Harris.
The rough, crusty, natural rind is slightly sticky and has some patches of gray and white moulds. It has a moist and crumbly texture with a patchwork blue green mould running through an ivory paste. The flavour is rich and slightly sweet, we love to have it for dessert on its own with some fruit and nuts.
It is matured for six months and is available from early summer through to winter.