ALTHOUGH Tunworth looks just like a Camembert, it’s so much more. This bloomy white rinded cheese has earned the ultimate accolade of Supreme Champion at the British Cheese Awards on two occasions, in 2006 and again last year, 2013.
Made by Stacey Hedges and Julie Cheyney at the family farm in Herriard, Hampshire, this artisan gem has been name dropped frequently by Jamie Oliver, Raymond Blanc (“my favourite Camembert”) and most recently Mary Berry, who selected Tunworth as part of her perfect triumvirate of cheeses for a dinner party. It’s not cheap – you can buy an acceptable French Camembert for half the price of a Tunworth, but I reckon that the added investment bears great dividend.
Starting with full-fat unpasteurised milk from local Holsteins, they add a little Penicillium Candidum to the milk during heating which encourages the soft white downy bloom on the cheeses as they dry after the curds are pressed by hand.
Eaten at around six to eight weeks, the 250 gm Tunworth (wrapped in waxed paper inside a smart spruce round box) is wonderfully wrinkled with a lovely fudge-like texture. The very edible rind gives a familiar mushroomy flavour as it melts in the mouth, but the interior paste is nutty, creamy and mellow – nowhere near as hard hitting as a Norman Camembert, but with added density and subtlety from the raw full-fat milk.
As with almost any soft white cheese, you can bake it and many do. I have to confess that I have never done so – when I bring one home, we fall on it almost immediately, carving wedge after wedge from the cheese and guzzling it with crispbread or crusty bread.
Justin Tunstall, Town Mill Cheesemonger, Lyme Regis