Eight Gold Medals for Co-operative cheese

August 2, 2013 by The Co-operative Food cheese awards

Yesterday at the International Cheese Awards, The Co-operative scooped an impressive eight golds as well as eleven silver, bronze and highly commended recognitions.

We’ve been cheese making since long before any written records began. It has probably gone through its biggest changes in the last fifty or so years as mechanised production was introduced, and for a while this led to less interesting cheeses on the shelves. But Britain’s taste buds have been tickled over the recent decades and we’re demanding high quality and variety in our foods like never before. One of the benefits of our more discerning tastes is an amazing selection of cheese in specialist shops, and at The Co-operative.

There are award ceremonies for most food types, but few can match the impressive 116 years that the International Cheese Awards has clocked up. Since 1987 the Nantwich Agricultural Show has hosted this event that’s now seen as one of the country’s biggest and best food festivals, and the world’s most important cheese show.

This year the International Cheese Awards attracted nearly four thousand entries from 24 countries across the world to the colossal 80,000 square foot cheese hall. That’s a lot of types of cheese! During the day there were cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs James Martin, Matt Tebbutt and Will Holland.

So what are The Co-operative’s fabulous award winners? The eight gold medals won by cheeses from The Co-operative’s Truly Irresistible range were:
• Hawes Wensleydale
• Manchego
• Appenzeller
• Camembert
• Somerset Brie
• Belton Farmhouse Cheshire
• Cheshire
• Somerset Goat Cheese

Most of these are well known cheeses, but I was interested to learn a little more about Manchego and Appenzeller.

Manchego is a creamy but firm Spanish sheep’s milk cheese produced entirely from the milk of the Manchego sheep in the central La Mancha region. It’s aged for anything from 60 days to 2 years and is always produced in the classic rounds that are up to a foot high. The cheese is more mild than many sheep’s milk cheeses, but still offers that distinctive after taste that makes it interesting and distinctive.

Appenzeller is a hard cow’s milk cheese from north eastern Switzerland. The cheese wheels are washed in a herbal brine, that many contain wine too, and this helps develop the flavour and preserve the cheese. It has a pleasant nutty flavour, and is generally sold younger than the Manchego.

Trying different cheeses is interesting as the variety is huge. Matching them to drinks is a skill and recently events matching cheeses to ciders and beers have taken on some of the popularity of the classic cheese and wine evening.

What will you have with your Manchego? I suspect that a glass of chilled Fino sherry would go down well, I must try it.

At this year’s show The Co-operative was offering its cheese and chutney to sample and to buy, with sales raising almost £1,100 for the charity of the year, The Carer’s Trust.

The overall best cheese award, grandly titled as Supreme Champion went to the Claxstone Smooth Blue from Long Clawstone Dairy. I haven’t tried it, but I’ll certainly be looking for it now, and I’ll be stocking up with award winners from The Co-operative.

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