Baltic Cheese, Northumberland
How long does it take for a foodstuff to become a legend? There are some like Colchester Oysters whose fame goes back to Roman times; or Barnstaple Fair Pears enjoyed by our medieval ancestors. Others are of more recent vintage, the fact that though young they are considered to be legendary already surely a sign of their exceptional quality. Such is the case with Baltic Cheese from Northumberland.
Doddington Dairy which makes the product with milk from its farm near Wooler , at the foot of the Cheviots , was already known for its Doddington cheeses. Some cheeses while not exactly making themselves require rather less attention than Baltic: made in moulds it is then during its months of maturing regularly washed with ale: in this case Baltic Summer Ale from Liverpool (another from the Dairy, Admiral Collingwood, uses Newcastle Brown ). The washing process helps form a rind, and keeps the curd within relatively soft. Made with unpasteurised milk the flavour is complex, with that bite or tang that most mass produced rivals lack. It also has a lovely golden colour, the rind towards the orange end of that hue. It somehow looks healthy, and smells divine.
Though the washed-rind style is not one associated with our most famous cheeses, it is something that would almost certainly have been done in Britain’s medieval monasteries like Fountains and Furness abbeys, heavily influenced as they were by French sister-houses – just as the cheese-maker at Doddington studied French techniques when developing this wonderful new(-ish) delicacy.