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Blessed are the cheesemakers: Cropwell Bishop Beauvale

Categories: Behind the stalls

A mild and creamy gorgozonla-like blue from Cropwell Bishop creamery in Nottinghamshire

It’s November. Yes, we’re as baffled as you are: it seems like only yesterday we were savouring the last of the rosé in the glow of late summer sun. While the nights are long, the days are cold and the spectre of Christmas shopping looms heavily over us, this time of year offers more than its fair share of culinary consolation prizes—of which a good blue cheese is most definitely one.

Stilton is the go-to of course—and with good reason, being the cold weather friend to everything from toasties and pasta dishes to fancy cheeseboards and canapes. But stilton is not the only blue in Blighty any more than gorgonzola is in Italy—and if you like the latter, you will fall easily for the award-winning Beauvale made by Cropwell Bishop in Nottinghamshire and sold by Heritage Cheese.

“It’s a creamy blue cheese, made on the same farm as this stilton,” Giovanni explains, gesturing to the towering, blue-speckled cheese sitting partly sliced beside him. “It uses the same pasteurised cow’s milk from local Nottinghamshire farms and traditional rennet.” Indeed, the only material difference between stilton and the squat, slightly gooey Beauvale beside it is its starter culture—a slightly different strain of Penicillium roqueforti to that used for stilton—and the shallower, wider moulds, into which the curd is laid by hand.

Gooey and pungently sweet
These cultures are much milder than those used to create stilton and the cheese is matured for just seven weeks, at low temperature. The rind—a thin, delicate coating that imparts a gentle spicy punch when you bite into it—develops naturally during that time. Eat it young and you’ll get a firm-textured, slightly sweet yet predominantly savoury cheese, with an inherent butteriness heralding the delicious meltdown it will experience as it ages. This meltdown is worth witnessing: hang on to your cheese for a week or so and the centre will develop the oozing, gooey, pungently sweet virtues of the gorgonzola dolce it is modelled on. “I like it with salad, crumbled on top of macaroni cheese at the end, or even just spread on celery. That is a very good combination.”

Apparently, cousins and cheesemakers Robin and Ben Skailes were partly inspired by the popularity of gorgonzola when they set out to create Beauvale, which is made in the family creamery in the Vale of Belvoir. It was two years before they were happy to release it to market, but that time tweaking and thinking was time well spent. It’s won several awards—including the prize for Best Blue at the 2017 British Cheese Awards, a silver medal at the 2016 British Cheese Awards and highly commended in The Great British Food Magazine Awards 2019—melting the hearts of customers at Heritage Cheese and further afield. Its greatest accolade, however, comes not from the Market visitors or even professional judges, but from Giovanni himself. “I’m Italian, I love gorgonzola—and I am in.”