Flower Marie

Soft, white-rinded, raw-milk sheep cheese, from Sussex, bought from Neal’s Yard Dairy

Flower Marie comes in little brick-like squares. The rind is white with gentle pink tinge, and adorably soft and velvety-furred and strokeable – like a baby animal. The cheese inside’s pale and creamy, a touch crumbly in the centre, and sticky – almost liquid – directly under the rind.

It tastes bright and light and salty and fruity, and very rich and creamy. There’s just a hint of a herbal, floral flavour, and soft and gentle caramel and nutty flavours. Towards the rind there are hints of mushroom. Overall, it’s sweet and rich and mellow, gentle, varied and subtle.


Hard pasturised goat’s cheese, from Dorset, bought from Neal’s Yard Dairy

The centre of this wedge of cheese is hard and dense, with a slightly crumbly texture. It’s a very pale cream colour; the rind’s a darker beige with a smattering of intensely bright yellow mould.

The rind is delicious – juicy and bright and sparkling. Inside the the cheese lightly salty, fruity (citrussy tangerine, and predictable pineapple), and gently nutty (almond and pine nuts). It’s mild and mellow and creamy and sweet. Initially it’s crumbly in texture, but it has a melt-in-the-mouth smoothness as well.


A raw-milk, ash-coated soft goats cheese from Hereford, also bought from Neal’s Yard Dairy

I have half a little round of a young goats cheese. The centre of the cheese is bright white, soft and gently crumbling. This clean white inside contrasts beautifully with the ash-covered outside. White and green bloom and soft rind wrinkles appear over the ash, giving a very pretty rippled, dappled effect.

It tastes salty and bright and goatishly lemony inside, with a light moussy crumbling texture. My mouth tingles from the rind, which has a bitter greenish tang to it, and a hefty dose of saltiness. There’s a sliver of creamy liquid directly under the rind; sweet and nutty, and a wonderful contrast to the bitterness and salt of the rind.

Colleague D joined me in this cheesy lunch, but refused to name a favourite – like asking him which of his children he loves best, he claimed – before admitting that the Flower Marie just about pipped it. I think it’s my favourite too; it has such a sweet and evocative name, neat little brick shape, and velvety soft skin, that I was charmed before I even tasted it.