White, firm and crumbly with a distinctive aromatic flavour.
In this country, goat's cheese has been
gaining popularity over the last 30 years. During the 70s and 80s alone,
UK production doubled, and has been on the rise ever since. Farmers like
Robin Congdon at the Ticklemore cheese company are keen to promote the
virtues of goats' and ewes' milk cheeses against the more well established
cows' milk cheeses.
It was once the case that the variety of
goat's cheeses could be questioned. Generally the nature of goat's milk
lends itself to making smaller, soft cheeses, which mature rapidly. However,
at the Ticklemore Cheese Company they have managed to break free from
this mould, and have made a very successful business out of making larger,
blue cheeses from both ewe's and goat's milk.
Before becoming a cheesemonger, Robin Congdon
had worked as a farmer on the same estate in which he makes his cheese
today. One of the first to re-introduce the milking of sheep for cheese
in this country, he decided to give up farming to concentrate on cheese
making. On their farm, which is now a house and dairy combined, he and
his partner Sarie Cooper have established a name for themselves with cheeses
such as Ticklemore and Beenleigh Blue.
Awarded several accolades over the past
few years, Harbourne Blue has become very popular amongst cheese connoisseurs.
The goat's milk tends to give it a characteristically white pāte and crumbly
texture, and also means that it matures more quickly than a cow's milk
cheese The resulting flavour is usually more powerful and the fact that
this cheese is blue veined enhances the flavour even further to give a
cheese that is best tasted at the end of a cheeseboard. However, as Robin
Congdon himself admits, the strength can vary considerably throughout
a season. A strong full bodied wine is therefore the best accompaniment.
Made by hand using only local milk, Harbourne
Blue comes in 3kg rounds that have been matured for 2½ months. Each cheese
is approximately 20cm in diameter, 15cm tall and has a fat content of
48%. It is made all year round, although it is in short supply during
the winter and early spring.