The Cheeseboard – Nanette

foodbasket-cheeseboardIF you really can’t stomach even the thought of goat’s cheeses, then please look away now. If you are tentative or just curious about them, then this Dorset made goat’s cheese, Nanette, is more than worthy of your consideration. If you actively like them, then this is a must for you to sample, as it holds the crown of Best Goats Cheese at the British Cheese Awards 2013.

May I raise one bugbear of mine? When recipes ask for 100gms of Goats Cheese, that isn’t very helpful – chefs wouldn’t dream of listing Cow’s cheese as an ingredient, but seem very happy to be totally non-specific with goat.

The milk is the medium from which each cheese is created, but it doesn’t define it completely – it’s very important, of course, but goat’s milk can be made into the whole gamut of cheeses of which there are seven broad types: fresh (curds), aged fresh, white rinded, semi-soft/washed-rind, hard, blue or with added flavouring, just as can milk from cows, sheep or buffalo. This kind of recipe laziness tends to reinforce the stereotype of goat’s cheese being just soft and fresh.

Dorset’s premier producer of goat’s cheeses is Annette Lee, who has created a range of fine cheeses that are available through the markets at which she sells and through a small number of specialist retailers. Her hard goat cheese, simply called Woolsery is available nationally, but the other cheeses she makes are less widespread.

Nanette is a white-rinded goat’s cheese, styled along the lines of a Camembert. It is sold in a lovely little spruce box, wrapped tenderly in waxed paper. This cheese looks and feels fluffy from the outset – it doesn’t have the firm uniformity of a Camembert, and the white mould adds volume to the cheese.

Taking the cheese from its wrapper is like grasping a cloud. Put a knife through the cheese and one sees three different elements – a thickish, yet soft, white rind, giving a lovely mushroomy aroma, the runny and ripe under-rind paste and a firmer, more crumbly centre. This cheese begs to be munched – even in company I’m unable to transfer the cheese to the plate before shoving a wedge into my mouth. It is not overly goaty – but has the tang that lets us know whence it comes. If the cheese is allowed to ripen completely, it becomes wonderfully gooey. It would also bake well and can be devoured with crusty bread.

Annette appears at many food festivals and events, and you can usually find her each month at Poundbury on the first Saturday and Bridport on the second Saturday. Some of her cheeses, including Nanette, are available at specialist cheese retailers.

Justin Tunstall, Town Mill Cheesemonger, Lyme Regis