Oct 09

Stawley & Harbourne Blue (cheesy lovers #27 & #28)

FT + Pumpkin Publog2 comments • 507 views


Cheese stats: Small round of goats cheese, bought from Neals Yard Dairy[1]

The stawley has a creamy yellow and white white wrinkled rind. A sticky, translucent layer lies just below the rind, and the cheese becomes a denser, opaque white towards the centre. It’s thick, and solidly sticky, and the texture reminds me of putty or plasticine. (I didn’t test this by attempting to sculpt anything from my lunch.)

The rind tastes bright and acidic and fruity – predominantly pineappley. (Q. for Food Science; Why does my cheese keep tasting pineapppley? This is the fourth pineapple-flavoured cheese.) The white paste tastes creamy and goaty. It’s dense and thick and melts slowly in my mouth. It rewards patience; the taste opens out as it melts into this bright excited lemony explosion.

1. I forgot to write down any detail for this cheese, and it is TOO NEW to be mentioned on the internet.

Harbourne Blue

Cheese stats: Blue goats cheese, also from Neals Yard Dairy. This is the goaty sibling cheese of Beenleigh Blue.

The last goats blue I tried had me running for water, and gasping for breath, but this one couldn’t be more different. Harbourne blue is white, firm and crumbly, with scattered specks of blue-green moulding. There’s no rind. In my mouth it feels slightly waxy – almost a plastic texture, and crumbles and melts quite easily.

It’s surprisingly well-mannered; mild, creamy and nutty (walnuts and hazelnuts), fruity with hints of flowers. And more than any of this, it’s sweet; a milky, fudgey sweetshop-ness that the cheese pusher seller and I narrow down to the taste of the icing on a coffee cake. This goes well with the walnuttishness. Even the patches of blue are restrained in their spiciness, although they do give the cheese some bite. There’s a touch of sharper grassy goaty tang, but that’s kept very much in check by the sweet milkiness.

Cheesy conclusion: I really enjoyed the way the Stawley opened out from a dense creamy cheese to a huge burst of lemon; it felt like I was discovering secrets. The Harbourne Blue was a tad too sweet for me, though; I prefer my cheeses with a bit more bite. But it wasn’t a bad cheese! Just not the right cheese for me.


  1. 1
    Pete on 8 Oct 2009 #

    Q. for Food Science; Why does my cheese keep tasting pineapppley? This is the fourth pineapple-flavoured cheese.

    One word answer: esters.

    Esters are responsible for most of fruity flavours, and a lot of them tend to smell of pineapple. A small amount of the fermentation that happens in cheese leads to the formation of alcohols, chiefly ethanol (by the same process which forms BOOZE during the fermentation of same). These alcohols react with the fatty acids hanging about (I think there are enzymes in some of the microbes which catalyse this reaction) and they form esters, chiefly ethyl esters with C2-C10. Just one example (I don’t know whether this one is significant, I chose it half at random), you can get ethyl hexanoate, which is described as smelling of pineapples or waxy green bananas.

    Interesting, in Khymos’s page on flavour pairings, he explains how to use google to do flavour pairing on the Good Scents Co site, and the example he uses is pineapple and cheese. So this is clearly a well known thing. And is presumably why they appeared often together on cocktail sticks in the 80s.

    There are people doing research on how to make their nasty mass-produced emmental taste fruitier. The limiting factor is the rather small amount of alcohol produced by the fermentation process: if you add ethanol artificially, you get more esters formed.

    I don’t know how this ties in with people washing their cheese in booze?

  2. 2

    Is this why all beer tastes of banana on some days?

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