By Sarah Sambrook
In the second installment of our Producer Spotlight, we’re focusing on a very special Cheesemaker tucked away in the Oxfordshire countryside… Nettlebed Creamery.
Headed up by Rose, Patrick and their small team of cheesemakers, they’ve been making organic cheese in Nettlebed, just outside Henley-on-Thames, since 2015 – though Rose’s family have been farming the same land since 1901.
Nestled next to the church in this sleepy village, you’ll find a collection of barns and it’s in one of these, covered in black clapboards, that cheese is quietly made.
Around Oxfordshire the Creamery’s toasties (a heady mix of two of their cheeses and a decadent slathering of butter), served from one of the Dutch barns, are famous. But the cheese itself is known across the world, having won a cabinet’s worth of awards, and regularly mentioned as one of the top makers in British Cheese.
This little creamery makes three award winning cheeses heavily influenced by traditional French fromage. The organic milk is from the family farm’s own herd of 130 mixed breed cows (Friesian, Swedish Red and Montbeliarde) just a couple of miles away from the creamery.
You might have seen Rose on the telly before, singing the praises of her cheese. But if you’ve never had a chance to taste them before you’re really missing out! Each with their own unique character, all of them delicious and named in honor of local villages.
Witheridge in Hay (named after the nearby Witheridge Hill) is distinctive among British cheeses.
As its name would suggest this semi-hard cheese is coated in hay, giving grassy notes to its rind as well as keeping it wonderfully moist. With all the strength of a traditional cheddar and the sweetness of an Alpine cheese, it holds its own on any cheese plate.
This is the only cheese made in the UK aged in hay – carefully harvested from the farm, then dried ready to cover the cheeses and impart all it’s sweet, fruity flavour.
Their second cheese, Bix, is somewhat of an obsession of mine. This triple cream beauty is named after the village where the cows live. Delicately made by hand, extra double cream is added to the milk for a most decadent, unctuous cheese. Once made, this enriched cheese is matured for just a few weeks, allowing a soft bloomy rind to form and encase the rich buttery paste.
Expect a soft, unctuous texture with a sharp, crème fraiche flavour when young, that matures into a rich butter flavour and hint of mushroom on the rind.
Last but by no means least, comes Highmoor. Highmoor is named after a village just 1 mile away, surrounded by brooding ancient woodland.
This washed-rind beauty is sort of similar to Reblochon, but with a little more punch. Highmoor is a relatively new kid on the block, having been developed in 2018, but it’s so worth seeking out. Truly a stunning cheese. Savoury with bacony, brothy notes on it’s peach-hued rind, and a supple texture inside, it’s a perfect melter.
So there you have it! Another British Cheesemaker crafting stunning, small batch cheeses on our doorstep. You’ll find Witheridge in Hay, Bix and Highmoor in our chiller for the next month – so pop by and have a nibble!
© Arch 13 Bar. All rights reserved.