Another zoom event for the Tylers and Bricklayers! This time we were entertained and educated by Andy Swinscoe, cheesemaker and cheesemonger extraordinaire, and champion of small cheese producers all over the UK.
Andy originates from Cumbria and is now based in Austwick, Lancashire, living at his “cheesery”, The Courtyard Dairy. He indicated that he and his family live directly above several hundred kilograms of maturing cheese, but they have grown accustomed to the aroma and now rather enjoy it! He runs the farm shop from home but because of Covid, footfall is radically reduced and he has now extended the mail order side of his business.
Andy clearly enjoys nothing more than chatting to customers about his cheeses and offering the opportunity to taste them. As a result of the pandemic, he has moved online and organises zoom events all over the UK and beyond. He trained in both the UK and France, having worked at Paxton and Whitfield on Jermyn St and the Fine Cheese Company in Bath. He has also worked with a number of Michelin starred restaurants, and is familiar with the requirements at this end of the market. He is clearly incredibly knowledgeable on all aspects of cheese production, particularly that undertaken by smaller “artisan” makers.
We tasted six English cheeses, which had arrived by courier a couple of days prior to the zoom call. They were all remarkably different, including a mild sheep’s cheese, a strong blue cheese, and plenty between. Oatmeal biscuits and quince jelly were also supplied. Andy was able to explain the nuances about texture, flavour and manufacturing techniques, and he also provided a story around each cheesemaker.
We were fortunate to have a menu of suggested wine pairings, produced by Chairman of the Wine committee, Past Master Philip Parris. Philip recommended a wide range of wines, white, red and fortified. It is important to choose the wine which harmonises with the type cheese, and red wine is not always the best solution. Tawny Port was a particularly inspired suggestion!
Following the presentation, we had the opportunity for further discussion with Andy, who answered all of our questions patiently and with great skill.
We then took wine with the Master who thanked Andy for an inspirational presentation, and members were encouraged to visit The Courtyard Dairy once safety and government regulation allows.
Andy’s cheeses are available by mail order at https://www.thecourtyarddairy.co.uk
Prof John Schofield 3 February 2021