British cheese has had its ups and downs, but largely speaking is still enjoying a renaissance which began as awareness of local foods started to build in the later 1990s.
Farms, and in particular, dairy farms, began to see diversification as crucial to their future, which meant more small cheese producers appeared. Selling at farmers’ markets, which were also beginning to appear all over Britain, and in local shops and supermarkets, small cheese producers allowed shoppers to choose from an increasingly diverse choice. And with the advent of the internet, you can now buy locally made cheeses, with all their particular flavours, colours and smells, online. So whether it’s the now-famed Stinking Bishop, or a Smoked Gubbeen from West Cork you’re after for the perfect after dinner plate, just log on and get shopping.
Countrylife.co.uk has picked some of our favourite sites for great British cheese shopping online as a starting point, so dive in, and celebrate British cheesemakers!
Teddington Cheese is based in Middlesex, but has a great range of cheeses from all over the British Isles as well as continental cheeses. They will ven make you a tiered cheese wedding cake, for those without a sweet tooth. They deliver all over the UK and increasingly worldwide, overnight wherever possible. http://www.teddingtoncheese.co.uk.
Specialising in Cornish Blue cheese, Cornish Blue make a creamy, Gorgonzola-like cheese which has built up quite a cult following nationwide, and received a fair amount of awards since they began five years ago. They deliver all over the UK and process all requests within 2- 5 working days. Visit http://www.cornishcheese.co.uk.
The Fine Cheese Company are based in Bath, but have won many recent awards since opening their doors, and have a very user-friendly website which helps you pick good combinations of cheeses and accompanying biscuits, condiments and drinks. They have a fabulous reputation and promise to deliver within 24 hours. http://finecheese.co.uk.
Cheddar Gorge Cheese boasts the only official cheddar shop making cheddar in Cheddar, as it were. The cheese is bold and strong, and the mature stuff is not for the faint-hearted, but they consistently produce varieties of cheddar, and other popular British cheeses, as well as accompanying condiments, with aplomb. They will deliver within seven days, so they say. Log on to http://www.finecheese.co.uk>.
Cows cheese, goats cheese, and flavoured and smoked cheddars are all produced by Inverloch Cheese, an outfit selling online based on the Mull of Kintyre. Their absolute speciality is the goat’s cheese, but expansion into other areas has been well received. Browse their wares at http://www.inverlochcheese.com>.
The Cheese Society also has a very functional website which claims some 122 items in their database, which can be ordered and delivered within 24 hours. The monthly selection does offer some help to those who might not immediately know what they want, but for the most part it’s a case of browse, buy and try, with design left to the side. See for yourself at www.thecheesesociety.co.uk/.
A shop with an impeccable reputation for stocking the best of British, Paxton and Whitfield has a website which is easy to negotiate, and stuffed full of cheeses from the UK and Europe. They too offer the celebration cake option, as well as offering a monthly society, which allows customers to sample different cheeses each month, to help to educate one’s tastebuds. Dive in at www.paxtonandwhitfield.co.uk.
Needing no introduction whatsoever, Neal’s Yard is never far from the top of the list when you ask foodies where their ideal cheese shop is. The website is comprehensive, and caters for every denomination of cheese enthusiast, from the casual browser to those in need of a monthly fix, on top of, say, one of their ‘large pieces of cheese’. Dive in at www.nealsyarddairy.co.uk.