The cheese selection at Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Restaurant and Spa is famous – not least because, with no less than 27 varieties, it is served on a trolley instead of a board. All but one of the cheeses are produced by farms in the South West of England, not far from the Dorset hotel. Here, Executive Chef Steve Titman gives an insight into ten of his favourites, while Summer Lodge’s celebrated Sommelier Eric Zweibel suggests three unusual wines to accompany them.
Made on the banks of the Dart Estuary, Sharpham is an unpasteurised Coulommiers-type cheese. Salt, starter cultures and vegetarian rennet are the only additions to fresh Jersey cow’s milk, and the result is a Devonshire take on Brie – a creamy marvel that ranks with the best!
This new sheep’s cheese, crafted by Bagborough Farm in Somerset, is moulded into a truncated pyramid shape. Dusted with a faint coating of ash, the soft cheese has a silky texture and a delicious melting quality.
Dorset Blue Vinny
Produced using unpasteurised cow’s milk by Mike Davies of Woodbridge farm in Sturminster Newton, this is Dorset’s most renowned cheese. A lovely light, crumbly and savoury blue – like a milder form of Stilton, but lower in fat and with a longer-lasting taste.
Black Eyed Susan
An organic, vegetarian and mould-ripened Brie, the Susan is made with milk from the Jersey cows on a farm near Bruton, Somerset. It is a rich, creamy soft cheese and is rolled in crushed peppercorns to produce a delightful tangy crunch.
Wyfe of Bath
This is an unpasteurised, organic semi-hard cheese made from vegetarian rennet just outside Bath. Succulent, nutty and creamy, the flavour is redolent of buttercups and summer meadows. The curd is placed in cloth-lined baskets, giving the cheese its stout, rounded shape and soft caramel colour.
Jamie Montgomery, a famous cheesemaker with a farm in North Cadbury, Somerset, made the unusual decision to develop a Cheddar with his Jersey milk. Then, up at Neal’s Yard Dairy, Bill Oglethorpe began to experiment – washing the fresh cheeses in a weak brine solution. The result? A moist, semi-soft cheese with a pungent aroma and a mellow flavour.
Cornwall’s Curds and Croust produces this magnificent cheese using only Cornish milk collected within a 30-mile radius. It is bold and rustic with a rich, buttery texture – a comforting squidgy-soft creation that will leave you craving more.
Ford Farm Cave Aged Cheddar
A full-bodied, pasteurised Cheddar produced near Dorchester, Ford Farm uses techniques dating back to the 16th century. The cheese is wrapped in cloth and left to mature two hundred feet underground in the depths of Wookey Hole Caves. Here it remains lovely and moist, and acquires a wonderful earthy, nutty flavour.
This is a pasteurised vegetarian blue cheese made from ewe’s milk by Robin Congdon of Ticklemore Cheese in South Devon. Slightly crumbly, with tiny, bubbly holes, it has a rich, sweet taste that’s similar to cave-aged Roquefort.
This pasteurised Devonshire “Red” cheddar is crafted using the traditional method, bound in cloth and matured for 6 months. This creates a deep, creamy, nutty flavour – and its striking colour makes it the perfect centre-piece for any cheeseboard.
Eric Zweibel recommends three wines that will go well with your cheese…
Shiraume Umeshu Sake from Japan NV
A unique sake infused with Umeshu plums, this sweet wine is distinguished by flavours of green plums macerated in eau de vie, and touches of caramel. Especially good with blue cheese.
Albert Boxler Gewürztraminer from Alsace 2008
Boasting a fragrant bouquet of lychee, passion fruits, mango and rose petal, this white is off-dry in palate, with a vibrant minerality. Makes an excellent pairing with Stinking Bishop.
Chambers Grand Muscat from Rutherglen Rosewood Vineyards in Australia NV
Intense perfumes of figs, sultana grapes, chocolate and toffee characterise this muscat. It has a rich and viscous palate, and a long finish. The perfect accompaniment to a mature hard cheddar.
Visit the restaurant at Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Restaurant and Spa to take your pick from the cheese trolley to which includes West Country takes on old favourites and some delectable new creations.