France’s fraud squad has been dragged into a bitter battle over what constitutes “real Camembert” in what traditionalists hope is the final chapter in a 25-year “war” with cheese multinationals to preserve their age-old method.
The vast majority of cheese is mass-produced from milk pooled from mega-dairies. There is just one British producer of traditional farmhouse lancashire and a handful producing cheddar. Can the real deal make a comeback?
Grated. Soft. Cottage. Cheddar. The supermarket dairy aisle just isn’t representative of the whopping 700 varieties of cheese produced in Britain today. But Sharpham Cheese by the River Dart in south Devon is a world away from mass production. Here, a range of 14 “real” cheeses are handmade on a small scale from the milk of goats, Jersey cows and sheep.
“You can taste the richness of each milk,” says managing director Mark Sharman as he cuts into the original Sharpham, first produced in 1981. “This soft, creamy cheese finishes with a lactic acid tang and a chicory-like bitterness.” Then there’s the dense, slightly crumbly, “almost lemony fresh” Ticklemore goat’s cheese; the indulgent triple-cream Elmhirst that smells of fresh grassy pastures; and the award-winning Cremet, goat’s cheese with added cow’s milk cream – divine [ . . . ] More: Raw power! Why we need a campaign for real cheese
In some circles, Roland Barthélemy is known as The Pope of Cheese. Owner of the highly acclaimed acclaimed Fromagerie Barthélemy in the heart of Paris, he has a leadership role in La Guilde Internationale des Fromagers and helped bring the cheese trade into the Concours de Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (France’s prestigious professional competition). He’s also a cheese diplomat—his title, specifically, being Ambassador of the French Patrimony of Cheese [ . . . ]
Dairy farmers Jonny and Dulcie Crickmore were struggling to make a profit when prices slumped, so they decided to cut out the middleman and sell their milk directly to the public.
The Crickmores were the first UK farmers to install a vending machine selling raw milk at the farmgate.
They have built a loyal customer base – it’s not unusual for customers to embark on round trips of more than 100 miles to buy milk from the farm.
But they haven’t stopped there. Jonny has diversified into making milk, cheese and butter from their cows’ raw milk.
Jonny consulted French cheese expert Ivan Larcher to ask him how to make Brie to rival the French. He travelled to eastern France and imported a herd of Montbeliarde cows, whose milk is renowned for making outstanding cheese.