10 years ago, while driving through France, we passed within about 50kms of Roquefort, and the thought passed between us – “Should we go there and have a taste of Roquefort in Roquefort?” In the end, we decided against it, and carried on to Bordeaux. And never gave it another thought for years.
But then over New Year, we were in Wensleydale, and visited the dairy where the cheese is made. And ate a substantial amount of it. And it felt good. There’s the belly-warming, high-cholesterol fuzziness of eating decent cheese. But there’s also the tick-box, been-there sense of achievement. Having been to other cheeseries before (Fairview being foremost), this was the first time that we’d had cheese named after the place we were tasting it at.
And then this weekend, we stopped off in Cheddar on the way back from Devon. Cheddar cheese has been made here for more than 900 years, and is still matured in the caves up in the (rather spectacular) gorge above the town. And it tastes fantastic. Much better than the mass-produced stuff you get in supermarkets across the world. There’s something special about hand-made cheese, matured for a year in a cave. Especially when you can watch it being made right in front of you, by a rather eccentric old man with a hunchback.
So I now have a new hobby – to visit dairies making cheese named after the town that they’re in. It’s currently a short list of two. There are a few that are close enough to be ticked off on day trips (Stilton, Red Leicester, Double Gloucester), some that will require a longer trip (Caerphilly, Cheshire) and of course, plenty that will require a sojourn to France, the Netherlands or beyond. Those last few will have to wait a while, but hopefully not so long that my (currently low) cholesterol puts an end to this endeavour.