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Who makes the best cheese? It's all so territorial...

Over the summer we took Cheese HQ on the road to visit family in France, getting away from it all and switching off - or not quite!

Whilst in Normandy, we visited a traditional market in Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët, a bustling busy market square with everything you didn't realise you needed. I ended up at the cheese counter talking fromage and swapping stories and recommendations from across the channel. I found out that there are around 600 farms in Normandy producing just a handful of the 63 PDO-certified cheeses France has to offer.


We opted for a couple of local made soft cheeses - La Cremeux du Mont Saint Michel and Camembert de Normandie (it would be rude not too) alongside a Brie de Meaux, Roquefort and a Morbier - and bagged ourselves some suitably tasty wine and made our way back to the chateaux to scoff the lot!


We dont get good French cheese in the UK - they keep the best bits for themselves I was very confidently told!

But what has this got to do with Cheese on Towcest and my passion for British cheese and why do you care?

Well... It started another one of my cheese journeys, I wanted to understand more about our own "territorial" cheeses; of which there are eight; I will try to be brief... Stilton - although some sources exclude it, Cheddar, Cheshire, Lancashire (Tasty/Creamy and crumbly) Caerphilly, Red Leicester, Double Gloucester and not to be left out Wensleydale. I have found the term "territorial" to be a loose definition of hard/crumbly pressed cheese identified as being created in Britain - except that Stilton isn't a pressed cheese and causes a lot of confusion! There are a number of designated makers and/or speciality recipes. For instance Cheddar refers to the way in which it is made - but is made in many places and Cheshire and Lancashire reference the region from which they hail but can be made in a variety of locations (Just like cheddar) but then Caerphilly isn't made in Caerphilly - not even in Wales.

Red Leicester used to be called Leicestershire cheese and was coloured using beetroot or carrot juice but gets it name thanks to war time rationing to differentiate it from white Leicester (which wasn't allowed to be coloured). We all know of a certain animated duo who are hailed as the saviours of Wensleydale Cheese due in part to their popular films and love of it - but they are not the only ones - Kit Calvert MBE actually has a variety named after him as a nod to his investment in the creamery back in the 1930's. And back to the ever confusing Stilton which has to be made in a specific way to a specific recipe but can only be made by six dairies - none of which are in Stilton - the only dairy in Stilton itself isn't a designated maker and therefore calls their cheese "Stichelton".

I bloody love British cheese!

It has been great fun getting to know these staple British classics and I hope you have too, all of them have featured across our August and September cheese boxes and markets and we are looking forward to showcasing some of the different versions available in the future.



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