6 of the best Christmas cheeses from Yorkshire
PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 December 2016
Tony Greenway checks out the best locally available festive fromage.
I’ve talked before on these pages about whether it’s right and proper to have cheese with your Christmas cake I — a Londoner now living in Yorkshire — put forward the case that Christmas cake on its own is wonderful and cheese on its own is even better. But, somewhat controversially as it turned out, I also mentioned that Christmas cake and cheese together is a culinary abomination cooked up in the fiery pits of hell. I might as well have said: ‘Flat caps look silly. And Leeds United are rubbish!’ At Yorkshire Life Towers, we hid under the desks and waited for an angry mob with flaming torches and pitchforks to turn up.
They didn’t, in the end but a lot of you took to Twitter or left online comments to say that I didn’t know what I was talking about (in not so many words). More than one person pointed out that it couldn’t just be any old cheese on their Christmas cake, it has to be Wensleydale (as recommended by Simon Lacey from Laceys Cheese although one of my friends likes cheddar on hers. (I can almost hear the sharp intakes of breath).
What can I, a softy southerner, say? I mean, you’re all wrong, obviously. But this is the season to be jolly so, in an attempt to spread a bit of festive cheer, I thought I should flag up some cheese from Yorkshire outlets that might take your fancy over the holidays. It goes without saying that whether you have a slice with your Christmas cake is very much up to you. Merry Christmas.
Laceys Cheese of Reeth produce a glorious Traditional Wensleydale so I rang Simon Lacey, the company’s cheese maker and director to ask what would best accompany it. ‘For me, especially being from Yorkshire, you’ve got to have traditional Wensleydale and a nice slab of fruitcake,’ he says. ‘And a cup of tea. Honestly, there’s nothing better to have that and to look out of the window and watch it rain over the Dales. It’s pretty perfect, really.’ Sigh. Here we go again. OK everyone. Discuss...
Mince Pie Yorkshire Wensleydale
The good people at the Wensleydale Creamery are going all out with Christmas-inspired cheese this month. Try their Gingerbread Yorkshire Wensleydale (with gingerbread sauce and Speculoos biscuit crumb), or the Eggnog Yorkshire Wensleydale (with eggnog flavoured fudge pieces, desiccated coconut and brandy). But, Christmas cake lovers, you should try the Mince Pie Yorkshire Wensleydale which features mixed fruit, biscuit crumble, cognac and spices.
You’ll need a blue cheese for your Christmas table, naturally and Thirsk-based producer Shepherd’s Purse makes an award-winning Yorkshire Blue (the first blue cheese to be made in Yorkshire for 30 years when it was introduced back in 1995). Each individual cheese is turned by hand each week, and the result is ‘blue veining and smooth texture’.
Wensleydale with Cranberries
Joe McGarraghy, the owner of Pennine Wine & Cheese at Hebden Bridge, tells me that the stilton he stocks is a big seller at Christmas. ‘We’ve got local cheeses to us that do well, too,’ he says, giving Pextenement a name check (more about them below). The Wensleydale with cranberries is another big seasonal favourite. This is creamy and fruity and is altogether cracking stuff, Gromit.
Christmas Cheese Boxes
Question: What’s better than cheese at Christmas? Answer: Lots of cheese at Christmas. Carl Warburton, owner of Todmorden-based specialty organic cheese company Pextenement, tells us that he’s creating Christmas Cheese Boxes for customers — something he’s done in previous years. ‘We have various combinations,’ he says. ‘People like getting a full selection.’
Stephen Fleming is a self-confessed cheese addict who opened specialist cheesemongers George & Joseph in the very trendy village of Chapel Allerton, Leeds in 2012. You could write what he doesn’t know about the stuff on the back of a cheese label, so who better to ask what I should stock up with this Christmas? Shock horror, the cheese he recommends isn’t produced in Yorkshire (it’s actually from Northern Ireland), but it is mind blowing and it’s called Young Buck.