9
Jul 09

Spenwood, Berkswell (Cheesy Lovers #5 & #6)

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My Human Wheel Of Cheese told me to get some hard sheep cheese from Neals Yard Dairy, so off I trotted. They do two different varieties, and so I got a little slice of each for a side-by-side taste test.

Cheese Stats: Both are hard, unpasteurised sheep milk cheeses from the UK.

Testing conditions: Lunchtime office cheese. I ate these on seedy sunflower bread.

The Spenwood is hard and fairly dry and dense, chewy rather than crumbly. It tastes sweet and nutty and juicy; lots of vanilla toffee fudge flavours, tempered by a hint of a cheddary tang and a slight tartness. There’s a sweet and mellow aftertaste. It reminds me of Comte, or maybe a gouda. The rind’s smooth, hard, and pretty unexciting. I ate a bit for the purposes of science, but I didn’t scoff it all up.Spenwood would make very good innards for a cheese toastie, and would be excellent as the topping to a bowl of hearty wintery French Onion Soup, as well as being delicious by itself.
The Berkswell’s crumbly and flaky, lighter in texture than the Spenwood. It tastes like ‘exotic’ flavour juice drink – something like pineapple or passionfruit. It’s tangy and fizzy and exciting. It’s also got a mellower sweet biscuit undertone. This sounds like some sort of champagne! It also tastes cheesy. It behaves like an over-excited pecorino. The rind looks uneven and bumpy, and tastes bitter, and unpleasant.

The Berkswell is a bit more exciting, with its tropical fruit fizziness. It’s a giddy cheese. The Spenwood is a much more comforting cheese – really nicely balanced. I liked both, but I think I preferred the Spenwood. I worry that this makes me some sort of cheese conservative.

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