I love the annual clear-out, get things off the desk, signed sealed and delivered for the Christmas break and then that's it for a few weeks - at least that is how it used to be for me before I took the plunge.
In reality the "break" over Christmas meant I could clear out the store-room, deep clean the fridges and research and put together the Menu for the 2022 cheese boxes. The time has given me a chance to reset, assess and recharge ready to go again with a renewed energy for the new year. I have also loved looking back over the last 12 months and remembering some of the incredible cheeses we savoured.
It is really important for us to take on feedback from customers and in creating the six of the best in January's box I looked back through a year's worth of messages and emails to pick out the ones you all wanted to see again.
I love the annual clear-out, get things off the desk, signed sealed and delivered for the Christmas break
Looking back to last January we had the Black Crowdie - a sumptuous soft fresh cheese rolled in oats and black pepper, Northumberland Nettle in Feb', Mayfield (Emmental style cheese with bags of flavour) in May and who could forget the monk? Renegade Monk was a naughty one made by Feltham Farm in Somerset and bathed in ale from Milk Street Brewery in Frome - is it lunchtime yet?
Then there was Ogleshield from Somerset...
It's an incredible washed rind raclette style cheese with a delicate red tinge to the rind, a semi-hard straw coloured paste with an earthy smell; care is taken to wash each one in brine every three days to soften the cheese and give it it's depth of flavour. It also comes in a HUGE 5.5kilo round which makes the rest of the pack look like tiddlers. Opening up this mighty disc you are met with a lovely hue of orange and pink, the nutty aroma and then a sweetness hit you all at once and I was hooked - and so it was named our cheese of the month for January!
My particular favourite of the lot has got to be London Blue
Made by Philip and Keith at Wildes, The Urban Cheesemaker in Tottenham, North London. The little "nugget of filth" as it has been christened has graced our menu all year. A punchy soft cheese with a rambunctious blue rind, salty tang and delicate creamy notes that hang in your mouth. Cut into it at the right moment and the chances are you have to serve it with a spoon!
One of the hazards of this job is the pure joy of finding a "new cheese" and by that I mean something that my customers or I haven't enjoyed before. The other hazard of the job is when friends or family visit a new place and they bring me back a wedge of the local cheese - when it's good - it makes the cut. So watch out this year for Bowland, mixed with apple, sultana and cinnamon prior to setting and named after the Forest of Bowland. St Ivo - a rind ripened soft log made using sheep's milk from Bevistan dairy at Carlton, by the St Ives Cheese Company. Caer Caradoc from Moyden's - a caerphilly style cheese with light citrus notes and a crumbly texture. Handmade in Shropshire. These are just three of the fabulous artisan cheeses we hope to bring you this year.
So there we have it, the wheels of 2022 are officially turning and I can't wait to bring you 12 more months of happiness!