This week I have been at the International Cheese Awards representing Laverstoke Park Farm on their stand.

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The Awards are basically the Oscars of the cheese world and whilst I have heard about this event for many years, this was my first time there. I find it quite funny that the cheese Oscars take place in Nantwich of all places. What brought it there? Anyway, instead of this little rickety tent and pongy cheese, I was amazed to see the scale of the whole thing.

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4235 cheeses were entered for awards this year over 226 categories. I didn’t know there were that many cheeses, least of all categories in which to enter cheeses. Madness!

After researching the British cheese world, it is clear that we really are in a league of our own. We now outstrip France in terms of number of cheeses boasting 700 against their 600 and we can certainly see some British classics competing and winning hands down against those old traditional French favourites. Roquefort is a thing of the past with a plethora of great blues such as Shropshire Blue, Colston Bassett Stilton and Stichelton coming from across the country. In fact, last year it was a British blue that won the overall prize at the World Cheese Awards and that was the Cornish Blue….and at this week’s International Cheese Awards, it was blue again with Long Clawson dairy producing the Supreme Champion award for their Claxstone Smooth Blue.

Brie is also seeing competition in the soft cheese world with Tunworth and Waterloo holding their own. But it in the hard cheese categories that we really are leagues ahead with the most wonderful cheddars coming from people like Montgomery’s, Keens Farm and Lincolnshire Poacher plus all the fabulous regional classics like Double Gloucester, Lancashire and red Leicester. It really is something to be proud of.

Cutting the curds

Cutting the curds

Filling the brie moulds

Filling the brie moulds

I actually helped our dairy manager make our buffalo milk ‘brie’ last Friday and had such a wonderful time seeing it from the raw milk stage right through to final product. It was a very simple process, with a lot of love thrown in and there you have it. Now I am waiting for my batch to reach its ultimate maturity and then I can sample the benefits of my endeavours.

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