Like buttered bread sprinkled with sea salt, béchamel lasagna, bone marrow with brioche, a crackling fire, and Pat Benatar, cheddar consistently supplies comfort without asking for anything in return. Except for you to upgrade to the good stuff.
I’m all for mixing the high with the low, and when it’s time to make a potato gratin for a family of twelve, it’s okay to buy cheddar a little lower than $20 a pound. But when it’s time to whip out the cheese plate at the end of the night and there’s a bottle of stout calling your name in the fridge or a Bordeaux looking pretty on the counter, that’s when you want to go big.
Go Lincholshire Poacher.
One of my favorite cheddars, crafted by two robust cheesemaker brothers in the British countryside, is Lincolnshire Poacher.
Made from the milk of 230 Holstein cows eating organic grasses and grains in Lincolnhsire, east England, this cheese sets a high bar for the cheddar world. Although the Ulceby Farm producing the cheese has been in the Jones family since the early 1900’s, cheesemaking didn’t fully kick off until the nineties, after a Jones son went to agricultural school and played around with a Welsh cheesemaker with a little bit of rennet.
Lincolnshire is a beefy, sometimes sharp and spicy cheese with buttery tones. Although blessed with a little more funk than some, it is similar to other cheddars of nearby regions that are also made in small batches, and will get bolder as it ages. It is exported by Neal’s Yard Dairy and can be found at Cowgirl Creamery in San Francisco’s Ferry Building, and Cheeseboard and the Pasta Shop in Berkeley.
As far as its favorite drink, well, Lincolnshire is kind of a cheap date. It likes to party and would only slightly turn up its nose at a Long Island tea. However, it favors dark beers, dark red wines like Cabernet blends and Zinfandels and as far as whites, loves full-bodied Chardonnays and Viogniers. And whiskey and scotch and bourbon.
And that pretty little fruity thing in the ramekin next to it is Frog Hollow peach chutney. Lincolnshire Poacher appreciates a little spunk in its sweet acoutrement, so a number with onions, chile and sugar does it up well. Fresh, tart apple slices- also delicious.
What’s your favorite cheddar? British? Born in the U.S.A or New Zealand?