December 03, 2014

The holiday season brings tradition into focus… festive  decorations, fireplaces, and snowy windowsills.  And the cheese that seems so classic in this picture is our second feature…  Stilton.

In the early 18th Century, the town of Stilton was a major staging post on the London to York Road.  It was the landlord of the Bell Inn in the town of Stilton who started serving  this soft, blue-veined cheese made in the nearby Leicestershire town of Melton Mowbray. Interesting that this cheese was therefore named after the town in which it became famous rather than after the place in which it was made. The popularity grew over time such that Stilton is today called the “King of English cheeses” and one of the most requested cheeses on the planet.  It is now protected by PDO legislation and, as such, can only be made in the counties of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and Leicestershire.

Stilton is firm but moist with a buttery texture.  The flavor is mellow, deep, rich, spicy, with a butter taste and hints of cocoa on the finish.  It is ideal for sauces, dressings, and soups  or baked in a quiche.  Excellent crumbled over a grilled steak or into a salad.

Absolutely perfect with a tawny Port or a crisp yet sweet wine like Montbazillac.  Avoid the too sweet Sauternes but alternately, a dry Riesling will work very well too.