Cheese, glorious cheese!

CHEESE HAS LONG been close to my heart and recently I have been working at Scotland’s finest cheesemonger, IJ Mellis, where I have been learning about all sorts of cheese, how to store it and how it’s made.

Iain Mellis opened shop in 1993 on Edinburgh’s Victoria St. and now has six branches around the country, each showcasing the very finest artisan and farmhouse cheese from France, England, Ireland, Spain, Italy and Scotland.

I am of course a huge cheese lover and the sheer quality of the produce is just incredible; getting through such a large selection has been a tough, but someone has to do it!

From the beautiful (and expensive) caramel coloured Mimollete to the creamy Gorgonzola from Italy to the pungent Epoisse, I have yet to find a cheese I wouldn’t buy myself.

The expertise and passion of my colleagues has been truly impressive, not just in terms of cheese knowledge but also when it comes to pairing wines, beers and other foods. 

I know cheese is expensive but if you are after a treat, then I sincerely suggest visiting one of the branches and placing yourself in the hands of the experts. You won’t find such knowledge at your local supermarket I can assure you!

I’ve taken the liberty of choosing a few of my personal favourites to recommend to my readers:

Orkney Grimbister: I’ve started local here.  This crumbly Wensleydale-esque cheese is produced from cow’s milk in a small family-run farm in Kirkwall.  It’s a very fresh, clean cheese with slight citrus note and goes well on oatcakes.

I know it’s unfashionable but I’m going to suggest a Chardonnay to accompany this cheese.

Murcia al vino: This Spanish goat’s milk cheese is a personal favourite.  As the name suggests it’s bathed in red wine during maturation which give it a rich red coloured rind.  It’s a mild cheese, creamy with a hint of salt and hard but a melt in the mouth texture. 

Perfect for a tapas board with some jamon serrano and chorizo. I recommend staying Spanish with this one and a good Rioja works perfectly with this cheese.

Dunsyre blue: This distinctive Scottish blue cheese is mellow and sharp, not too salty and with an after taste that lingers in the mouth.  I had this at the Kitchin (see review) melted down and served with crudités, which was delicious and a great idea if guests are round.

Works well with a cheeky whisky or a good Cote du Rhône.

Keen’s cheddar: I couldn’t not include a cheddar here and normally Isle of Mull cheddar is my favourite but this is fast catching it up in my opinion.  Made in Somerset with milk from their own herd, this is a nutty, complex cheese with a slight tang at the end.  The Keen family have been producing cheese since 1898 and are involved in the Slow Food initiative.

I think I’ll suggest some champagne with this one! Why not?