Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wednesday, Linconshire Poacher

Brothers Simon and Tim Jones run their family farm in Lincoln- shire, on the eastern edge of England, near the sea. The ocean is so close you can see it from the last cow barn. Besides pheasants and crows, gulls occasionally fly overhead.

Like many of the cheeses Neal's Yard Dairy sells, Poacher is relatively new to the world. A "new traditional cheese," as some like to call them. It has a lot in common with traditional English cheddar. The size, shape, color, and texture are similar. But it's made 350 miles east of the cheddar counties and it's got just enough other quirks to make it completely its own thing. Here it's pictured after it was washed, ready for boxing up and shipping out.

Simon, the agricultural college major, first started making Poacher in the early 1990's, about the same time that ZMO was born. Tim, his brother, the marketing and numbers guy, came on board in 1998, about the same time we started Interesting symmetry there. We've been selling it at ZMO since 2006 or so, after our first visit to their farm. During that trip we tasted a great batch of thirty 45 lb cheeses -- a day's make -- and bought the whole lot.

We tasted about forty cheeses today, made on forty different days. There were a lot of good ones — it was hard to narrow it down! The finalists were all from 2007: March 21, April 27, May 30, July 20. Carlos, Grace and I settled on March 21, 2007. It's a savory-yet-sweet cheese with a full body that should last well into spring and summer of 2009. Look for it in late November.

Photos from Poacher.

Next top: Montgomery's Cheddar.

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