Best of British cheese

by Mark Broadbent

Mark Broadbent has enjoyed a food-obsessed career spanning three decades. He’s cooked in Five star Hotels, Two star Michelin restaurants, Gastro Pubs and Member’s Clubs, delivering unforgettable cuisine or acting as a consultant. London’s Bluebird was just one of his success stories. Under his creative direction, the restaurant achieved huge critical acclaim and was especially loved by AA Gill.

Thanks to a misplaced Sat Nav, I recently found myself resorting to that most retro of navigation methods: the road atlas.

Frustrating though it was, scouring the dog-eared pages of the A-Z was a great reminder of what a great foodie nation Britain is.

And a quick glance at a map of the UK – particularly in England and Wales – conjures up a myriad of place-names made famous by one of our greatest triumphs: cheese-making.

From Cornish Blue, through to Cheddar in the South West, up to Caerphilly in Wales and back into England to the homes of Red Leicester, Shropshire Blue, Cheshire and Wensleydale. What a great road tour that would be.

Cheese-making is at an all-time high in the UK with more than 700 varieties being produced and an export market to rival that of France and Germany.

Some of the best cheeses in the world hark from our shores and one of my favourites at the moment has to be the multi-award winning Barkham Blue, made by Two Hoots Cheese on the Hampshire/Berkshire border.

With such a great variety available, there’s no reason why you can’t create a show stopping cheeseboard from UK suppliers.

Putting together a great cheeseboard is not as daunting as it may seem. Aim for around five or six contrasting cheeses and include at least one familiar variety so your guests aren’t too daunted.

Choose cheeses from each of the main groups for example, hard (such as a Wensleydale or Cheshire), soft (do try the Stinking Bishop) and a blue (a Stilton is always a winner).

Whatever you choose, if you stick to British cheeses you’d be hard-pressed to go wrong.

And next time I can tear myself away from the kitchen for a couple of weeks, I know what will be top of my to-do list: that cheese-inspired road tour through the English and Welsh countryside.

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