Lanark Blue Cheese, Lanarkshire
Medieval Britain was a rather more cosmopolitan place than it turned into during the Industrial Revolution . The Normans brought with them their laws and their rigid feudal system, but they also brought new foods and technologies, and a different culture. This influence may have been how a tradition for making blue sheep’s milk cheeses arose over the border in Lanarkshire, where grazing for sheep was as good as it was directly south in Yorkshire where the great abbeys thrived.
Though the tradition died out, probably in the 19th century, along with a great many other British cheeses, the record and the suitable conditions remained. In the mid-80s Humphrey Errington began farming in the area north east of Lanark , and he set out to revive the style. What resulted is a cheese reminiscent of Roquefort, using indeed penecillium rocquefortii. It has a crumblier texture than say Stilton , and can be very sharp, with a lengthy aftertaste. This is not for those who love cheeses prefaced with the word ‘mild’, even if the stuff made in the spring is easier-going than the winter product. It deserves to be better known, though the artisan nature of production is not aimed at the mass market. Great with a good claret to celebrate the auld alliance; or a strong sweet beer like a barley wine – Thomas Hardy for example.