Monthly cheese delivery – how do we decide which cheeses to send?
Every month cheese lovers all over the UK receive a box of cheese delights delivered to their door from The Courtyard Dairy. But how does The Courtyard Dairy decide which cheeses to select for each monthly cheese box? It’s all explained here…
It all starts when The Courtyard Dairy receives cheeses from the farmers. First up, they are ‘ironed’: a small sample of cheese from the interior of each cheese is removed using a cheese ‘iron’, touched, tasted and graded, with notes kept on the quality and flavour. This is repeated periodically throughout their ageing in the shop.
The Courtyard Dairy’s ethos is to support small independent producers, so the flavour of each batch of artisan cheese varies (get the shop to give you two Cheddars made in the same week to taste). For the monthly cheese club The Courtyard Dairy’s affineurs (usually Andy and Kathy Swinscoe) select cheeses that are a bit special or different… and, of course, they must taste amazing.
Then once a month, when the monthly cheese delivery time comes around, Andy and the other cheesemongers look through their notes and then take into account the ripeness of the cheeses. For the monthly cheese club they also try to balance the seasonality of cheeses, choosing those that are at their very best for that period (for example goats’ milk in Spring, and Gruyere from June alpine pastures)… it all depends on the pasture and the natural rhythms of cheese making and farming.
Bearing all this in mind, a balanced selection of three or five cheeses are chosen (for the small and large monthly cheese clubs respectively), matching the strength of flavours the range of types. Soft, hard and blue cheeses, for example, also taking into account the weather when the cheese club cheeses are to be delivered – no one wants big, heavy cheeses in hot weather, for example, but warmer, richer cheeses are ideal in Autumn.
Where possible The Courtyard Dairy’s affineurs also try to include something different, often one of the shop’s new guest cheeses. The lucky monthly cheese club subscribers were the first to receive and taste brand new cheeses like Young Buck and Little Anne, for example.
After the selection, detailed notes are written about each cheese to be sent out and why The Courtyard Diary’s affineurs chose them for that months cheese box (click here to view the August 2014 example). As well as the detailed notes, an additional feature on cheese is also included; this can range from telling the story of a farm visit (see this example: Creating a modern British blue: Cote Hill), to the history of a cheese’s name, or how Andy classifies and ages cheese (see Classifying cheese by how it is made – part 1).
Then the cheeses are cut fresh from the wheels, wrapped, labelled and dispatched – delivered chilled the next day to addresses throughout the UK, to the excitement and delight of the monthly cheese club subscribers.