There’s a great lineup of Christmas blues, starting with our Stiltons: Cropwell Bishop and Colston Bassett with the similarly made, creamier and orange Shropshire Blue, also made by Colston Bassett. We have several local blues, including the great Isle of Wight Blue, Barkham Blue (Hampshire/Berkshre border), Blue Clouds (Balcombe) Pevensey Blue (E.Sussex) and then some outliers: Cashel Blue from Ireland and Gorgonzola from Italy.
We are well covered in the blue department, but the range of tastes and textures will ensure you are kept on your toes, and despite many people having a personal favourite, it’s worth venturing beyond your blue cheese comfort zone as they are all delicious. We can start with the difference between the two Stiltons:
Colston Bassett is usually regarded as the best, and comes from the smallest of the 6 official Stilton producers. The cheese is made from milk sourced from dairy farmers with 1.5 miles of the dairy, producing a fruity, rich and complex cheese that has only ever had four master cheese makers, meaning this incredible cheese has barely changed in over 100 years.
Cropwell Bishop has been going for three generations and has distinctive blue veins, matured for 5 weeks to give a wonderful, buttery texture. We buy our stilton by the wheel, where it can mature properly. We would recommend avoiding stilton in ceramic pots – it’s not the same thing.
Barkham Blue has a rich blue taste, smooth buttery texture from the Jersey cow’s milk, a melt in the mouth flavour, without the harshness associated with some blue cheese.
Isle of Wight Blue is a naturally rinded soft blue cheese that is made with pasteurised Guernsey cows’ milk. When the cheese is sold at 3-4 weeks it has a relatively mild blue flavour but expect the IOW Blue to accelerate quickly so that by the time it is at the end of its Use By date, the flavour will be a lot more spikier
Blue Clouds from Balcombe in West Sussex, a rich, creamy Gorgonzola-inspired cheese, a mild creamy blue with a slight salty tang. It has a doughy aroma and a good length of flavour.
Pevensey Blue is from East Sussex, is slightly firmer in texture, creamy and sweet but with a pleasantly nutty bite.
Cashel Blue is a great Irish cheese that, with time, becomes creamier and indeed more balanced in flavour as the saltiness, blueness and gentle milky elements integrate together.
Gorgonzola – From Piedmont, this Gorgonzola is soft, rich, and sweet