Stilton, the country’s most famous and well-loved of all of our native cheeses – is produced by only five dairies in two counties – all of which happen to be based within a 10 mile radius of Melton.
It is no surprise then that visitors from all over the world flock to Melton’s only dedicated cheese shop to sample its unique flavour.
As the town prepares to get behind the very first National Stilton Week (April 15-21), I chatted to Melton Cheeseboard owner Tim Brown to find out why the cheese is so special and just why it deserves a week all of its own.
“Stilton isn’t just for Christmas – it is one of the most versatile cheeses there is and we sell it all year round to our regular local customers and visitors from all over the world. It is a true Melton cheese and one of my personal favourites,” he says.
The Melton Cheeseboard, along with many other restaurants, cafes and food shops in the town will be holding special tastings and menus throughout the week, to demonstrate and celebrate the versatility, heritage and great taste credentials of this quintessentially English cheese.
Tim has been teaching people how to recognise a good Stilton for over seven years now and said: “The difference in flavours between a cheese which is much too young and one which is at its peak age of around 12 to 13 weeks is vast.
“You need to look for a Stilton which is yellow and buttery around the outside – it shouldn’t be white.
“As the cheese gets older, the blue breaks down the curd much more and it becomes mellow and creamy to taste with a smooth not a chalky texture.”
So now we all know what we are looking for, I decided to sample all of the Stiltons from the five local dairies, to find out which one gets my vote.
In a blind tasting my undoubted winner was Webster’s of Wartnaby (available from Derek Jones Butchers).
But that’s just my opinion. Go and try them for yourself and support one of our national treasures and unquestionably a jewel in Melton’s ‘foodie’ crown!
l Check out some great Stilton recipes on www.stiltoncheese.com and look out for events in Melton during National Stilton Week April 15-21.
l Stilton stockists in Melton are: Mark’s Butcher, Dickinson & Morris, Melton Cheeseboard and Derek Jones Butcher.