When it comes to the countryside I am one of those people who likes to look at it from afar. The thought of going to a festival and getting covered in mud whilst sleeping in a tent fills me with dread. Don’t get me wrong, I like camping. But I have to do it with a proper duvet and an electric hook-up. I went to the Foodies Festival a few months back and that was really muddy, so when invited to the International Cheese Awards as part of the Nantwich Show I was fully expecting to have to go out and buy wellies and a decent pair of waterproof trousers.
I needn’t have worried. The International Cheese Awards was a very civilised affair held in the biggest marquee I’ve ever seen in my life with raised walkways throughout the rest of the Nantwich Show, perfect! This vast marquee housed over 4400 cheeses from around the world, all hoping to win a prize awarded by some of the biggest names in the food industry. White coats and hair nets were donned and rooms were chilled to keep the cheeses in their prime. The judging went on for most of the morning with us mere mortals peering through plastic curtains to catch a glimpse of the action.
To keep us entertained we toured the different brands trying their cheese offerings and boy, there were thousands! From the mildest of cheddar to the stinkiest of blue, the sweet novelty factor and even cheeses based around cocktails, they had them all.
I’m not normally a fan of stilton but this potted version with honey was sublime and the honey sweetened it enough for me to keep going back for more, thanks Cropwell Bishop Creamery for introducing me to this delight.
I nearly wrote the Old Irish Creamery off as being far too ‘novelty’ with their chocolate, curry and wine cheeses but they were actually really good with the curry cheese tasting like chip shop curry sauce, obviously mixed with cheese. They had the novelty factor but in a good way.
Another favourite was the Norweigan Tine Gudbrandsdalen which is a brown cheese with a sweet fudgey caramel taste. So different from anything else on offer but gorgeous and perfect for my sweet tooth.
The winners were announced after a lovely lunch (you can see the full list here) and we were honoured to witness the admission of new members to the International Cheese Guild. Doesn’t he look dapper in his robes?
The day concluded with an Irish cheese and whiskey pairing hosted by The Little Milk Company. I don’t like whiskey but it turns out, I do like Irish whiskey with cheese! I wonder if the sheer amount of cheese I consumed on the day went to my head?
A great day was had by all and I can’t wait to head back next year, who’s with me?
I was invited to the cheese awards as a guest and wasn’t asked to pay for my ticket. This is an honest account of the day and not biased in any way. Massive thanks to Samantha Bell for the amazing photography