British and Irish artisan cheese has been dealt a devastating blow by the closure of restaurants, hotels, pubs and cafes. Practically overnight, cheesemakers and cheesemongers who supplied these businesses saw a massive loss of business. There have been some fantastic advocates of the industry over the last couple of months, in particular Jenny Linford who wrote this great article in April encouraging us to support our cheese producers. The publicity has been a lifeline for some but sadly not all have survived. This week we heard that Highfield Farm Dairy is ceasing production. They make one of my favourite goats cheeses, Innes brick. It is sad to think the little bit I have left is the last I will ever eat, thankfully the goat herd have found a good home in Cumbria with Martin Gott who makes St James cheese.

I know that 2020 has been a very challenging year for many of us but I hope that in the midst of this we can take time to learn more about our food traditions, make some choices about where we buy our food and consider supporting artisan producers in Britain and Ireland.

For cheese in particular we have the amazing Courtyard Dairy in the Yorkshire Dales and in London we have Neal’s Yard Dairy, championing cheese producers of the British Isles. Both ship nationwide and provide a wealth of information about the cheese and producers so that you can educate yourself more about cheese. If you are in Northern Ireland then Indie Fude is frankly the best shop that has ever existed (really, check it out) and has a stunning collection of Irish cheeses alongside a wide range of Irish produce perfect to accompany cheese. Indie Fude ships across Ireland and the UK.

If you do one thing this week, order some cheese. You won’t regret it I promise.

Here is my current list of cheese favourites if you are wondering where to start:

My Yorkshire Highlights

Dale End Cheddar, Summerfield Alpine and Moorland Tomme from Botton Creamery on the North York Moors. Some can be bought from Food Circle’s weekly market at Tang Hall Community Centre.

Ribblesdale Goats Cheese by Ribblesdale Cheese

Hebden Goats Cheese by Ten Acres Farm

Shepherds Purse Fine Fettle ( feta style)

Barncliffe Brie by Yorkshire Fine Cheese

Richard III Wensleydale by Fortmayne Dairy

Leeds Blue and Yorkshire Pecorino by Olianas

My British and Irish Cheese highlights at the moment

Ogleshield from Motntgomery Cheese

Rollright Cheese from Kingstone Dairy

Baron Bigod Brie from Fen Farm Dairy

St James Cheese

Kirkhams Lancashire

Berwick Edge from Doddingtons

Brinkburn Goats Cheese from Northumberland Cheese Company

Young Buck Blue from Mike’s Fancy Cheese

Triple Rose from Ballylisk Cheese

Gubbeen

Corleggy Goat Cheese and the Drumlin wild garlic and chilli from Corleggy Cheeses

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