Rhapsody In Blue

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Something hard, something soft and something blue – that’s
what you need for a classic cheese board and Dorset Blue
Vinny is a great option for the latter. Not only is it steeped in the
county’s history, but it could convert those who think they don’t
like mould in their cheese.

“Because it’s not hard hitting, it would be a good introduction to
blue cheese,” says Emily Davies, the daughter of Mike Davies, one
of Rick Stein’s Food Heroes, whose family revived the traditional
brand 35 years ago. “Stilton would be its nearest relative but Dorset
Blue Vinny is much more delicate – with some blue cheeses you can
get quite a sharp, sometimes metallic aftertaste, and with ours you
shouldn’t get that.”

There was nothing delicate about the way Dorset Blue Vinny
was produced when it used to be made in nearly every farmhouse
in Dorset. “There were all sorts of wonderful and weird ways of
making the cheese go blue from dragging mouldy horse harnesses
through the mill to parking the farmer’s muddy wellies by the vat,”
Emily told us. “You’ll be relieved to know that we don’t do that any
more.”
Instead, what we have is a great modern interpretation of a
classic cheese, which, following the onset of the Milk Marketing
Board in the 1930s, had been lost to us. With farmers being able
to command a better price for milk, there were no leftovers with
which to make Dorset Blue Vinny. Thankfully, it was resurrected
by Dorset farmer and trained cheesemaker Mike Davies, and
today, the family’s Friesian dairy cows produce the milk that is
used to make the cheese which is enjoyed by consumers, chefs and
producers across the region.

Sturminster’s Hotch Potch Pies have made a Dorset Blue Vinny
and steak pie, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has made River
Cottage soups with the cheese, and Purbeck Ice Cream have even
produced a cheesy ice cream. “I wasn’t sure about it,” admits Emily.
“It was bizarre – I love ice cream, love our cheese, wasn’t sure they
need to needed to be together, but it’s absolutely incredible.”
It turns out that the cheese goes well with sweet stuff, like, for
example, the family’s own pear chutney, which is the perfect
accompaniment. As Emily advises, leave your cheese out until it
reaches room temperature (about four hours) to allow the flavour
to come out and eat it with the pear chutney (which you can order
online) and a digestive biscuit. Wash it down with a glass of port,
a full-bodied red wine or even some Somerset Pomona from The
Somerset Cider Brandy Company.

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