Cheese, Chocolate and Red Wine pretty much rule my diet, so when I was asked to attend the International Cheese Awards it took me all of a micro second to accept.
The International Cheese Awards takes place in Nantwich as part of the Nantwich Show
I headed down on the Tuesday, which was the press day and the day on which all the cheeses were being judged. Judges were split into categories and started the mammoth task of judging over 5000 different cheeses.
Whilst this was going on I took the time to sample some of the cheeses on display as well as talk to some of the artisan producers.
One producer that really caught my eye was ‘The Squeaky Cheese Company’ – Oh its Halloumi I said, only to then be told how they were not allowed to call it Halloumi.
Cyprus applied for a PDO, which would mean that the product name was protected, much in the way of Champagne or the UK’s Single Gloucester, however this was denied.
Like Rasan Alsous, the Syrian Cheese Maker that started the Yorkshire Dama Cheese Company says “Halloumi is a method of cheese-making. It’s originally from the Middle East. The halloumi method was used by Bedouins in the desert using goat’s milk. There weren’t any cows in the desert. We use local sources and the available milk is from cows.”
She also tells me, that the earliest recipe found for Halloumi, was discovered in Egypt, so how can Cyprus claim it and say that it must be Sheep’s Milk?!
I found out that the use of the name HALLOUMI on their label is in fact restricted by a Registered Trademark – which the word HALLOUMI has been since 1999!!
Rasan is looking to fight this trademark, but for now she will stick to calling this beautiful cheese ‘Squeaky Cheese’
The cheese comes in a number of Flavours, including Original, Smoked, Mint and my favourite Rosemary.
Take a look at it online here, plus keep your eyes peeled, as they are expanding into supermarkets in a big way.
Another of the cheese’s that really took my fancy at the festival was that of an aged Red Leicester.
Produced by Belton Farm, Red Fox is a beautifully strong Red Leicester, which I immediately loved. Sold in Booths, I was informed that they also produced Asda’s specially Selected – own label, Aged Red Leicester, which I have to admit to have buying on a number of occasions and loving myself.
Belton Farm produce a number of beautiful cheeses, and to back that up, they were named as Supreme Champions with their Cheshire Cheese.
A visit to the International Cheese Awards was indeed an eye opener, with the chance to chat to and try so many amazing cheeses from suppliers around the work.
Next year’s dates are already in the diary – with Judging and Press day being Tuesday 30th July – and Show Day, open to the Public on Wednesday 31st July – find out more here