Blue cheese honours
While travelling to Christchurch from a bach stay near Dunedin last August, the Boyfriend and I took the opportunity to call into the Whitestone Cheese café and shop – a stop well worth making if you ever find yourself in that area of New Zealand. Guided by a passionate shop assistant, we tasted our way through several of their cheeses, eventually leaving with a big chunk of Windsor Blue. We didn’t realise then that this was New Zealand’s most decorated cheese but we loved its creamy texture and intense flavour – even when scoffed with crackers in the car on the way home!
Later in the year, after tasting my way through a selection of blue cheeses at Canterbury Cheesemongers, Windsor Blue was also the successful choice to accompany a bottle of Giesen‘s Canterbury Late Harvest Riesling Reserve. I never managed to keep enough of the cheese to cook with but, when we were at the Whitestone Cheese café, among the tempting dishes on offer was a Broccoli and Windsor Blue Soup. A most versatile cheese, indeed.
Whitestone Cheese make a range of 18 hand-crafted varieties including organic camembert, sheep’s and cow’s milk feta, semi-soft pressed cheeses – Airedale Farmhouse, Whitestone Farmhouse – plus Windsor Blue’s little cousin, Moeraki Bay Blue. Whitestone Managing Director Bob Berry believes that the cheese reflects the unspoiled natural environment that it comes from, telling Market New Zealand: “The distinctly regional flavours of our cheeses capture the character of North Otago where we are located, from its lofty mountains, quality pastures and clean air to the windswept coastline.”
For those of us that can’t get our hands on Windsor Blue at this side of the world, there are plenty of quality Irish blue cheeses around. Farmers’ markets are always good hunting grounds if you’re looking for local cheesemakers or you could take a stroll into Country Choice (Nenagh), Iago (Cork’s English Market) or Sheridans Cheesemongers (Galway and Dublin) for some sampling. There’s also a feature on Nationwide (again!) about Ireland’s strongest blue cows’ milk cheese – Bellingham Blue – to whet your appetite.