I'm all for products like this one being available...
LINK - http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/food/2007/12/rhapsody_in_blue.html
Rhapsody in blue
Paul Levy discovers with delight that an unpasteurised British blue is once more on cheesemongers' shelves
December 18, 2007 10:31 AM
Margaret Richardson and Tracey Scotthorne pierce the Stichelton to introduce the bacteria which create the blue veins. (Photograph w article)
In an issue of The Observer in 1989 I wrote the obituary of a cheese. We still eat loads of Stilton, especially at Christmas, but the last authentic Stilton was made that year. There had been an outbreak of food poisoning, with symptoms suggestive of a staphylococcus bacterial infection, and the incident was (probably wrongly) linked to raw-milk Stilton.
In fact, samples of the last unpasteurised Stilton, made by Colston Basset, a farmers' co-operative (that today has only four members) turned out to be innocent - free of the staph bacterium. But Colston Basset panicked, and installed pasteurisation equipment. Thus real - buttery, complex - Stilton died.
From the mid-1990s, when Stilton received Protected Designation of Origin status - the EC equivalent of the French appellation contrôlée, the remaining makers of Stilton contrived (connived, some would say) to make the use of pasteurised cows' milk part of the legal definition of Stilton. Now, nearly 20 years later, those who have never known the extraordinary taste and texture of pre-panic Colston Basset can buy a cheese almost exactly like what I remember.
I look on this as an almost personal Christmas gift from the patron saint of British (and Irish) cheesemaking, Randolph Hodgson, of Neal's Yard Dairy - the man who, since 1979, has advised, encouraged, helped and sometimes saved the country's artisanal cheesemakers. He's joined forces with a 40-something New Yorker, Joe Schneider, who is making a unpasteurised cheese in Nottinghamshire called Stichelton, so good, and so like authentic Stilton, that it restores part of (what Talleyrand said we could never capture of the past) la douceur de vivre. Legally, though, they cannot call an unpasteurised cheese Stilton.
So they found the name Stichelton in the 13th century Lincoln Rolls - it just happens to be the name of a village associated with the origins of Stilton, another deserved poke in the eye for the seven firms that now make up the Stilton Cheese Association.
That is not to say that the existing Stiltons are bad - just that Stichelton is so much better. I bought large samples of it (about 250g each to make certain I had a cross-section of each cheese including the centre), and the two Stiltons that are commonly judged best, Colston Basset and Cropwell Bishop - plus two other excellent blue cheeses made from cow's milk elsewhere, Louis Grubb's Co. Tipperary Cashel Blue and Strathdon Blue, made by Ruaridh Stone near Tain, Ross-shire.
The Cropwell Bishop had a lovely, buttery texture, and the Colston Basset an attractive flavour that even in a blind tasting you'd recognise as Stilton. But both were one-dimensional compared with the Stichelton, the flavour of which lingered long after you'd swallowed it. It is creamy, rather than crumbly in texture, the bluing gives it a mild, un-peppery sensation that you feel at the back of the throat, and lots of floral overtones, both of aroma and taste, along with the very slightly salty savoury notes.
According to my hero Harold McGee, there is a scientific reason for this, in that the many harmless bacteria present in raw milk, which are killed off by pasteurisation, contribute these complex flavour components to the finished cheese.
Do you like cows' milk blue cheese, but dislike Stilton? If so you might well fancy the Cashel Blue, which, when fully ripe, can almost have the texture of a runny Brie; or the very creamy, characterful Strathdon Blue. This last is new to me, and I'd be glad if you know something more about it, or to hear your thoughts on Stilton in general. If you've tasted the Stichelton, what do you think of it - do you agree with Matthew Fort?