Name: Lincolnshire Poacher
Producer: Ulceby Grange Farm (Lincolnshire, England)
Milk: Raw Cow's Milk
Age: 1-2 years
It can only be fate, or some sort of subliminal voice with an English accent, that made me pick up that hunk of Lincolnshire Poacher at Whole Foods the other day. I had no idea, at the time, about the connection between this cheese and last week's review of Gorwydd Caerphilly. As it turns out, Simon Jones, the cheesemaker behind this week's Lincolnshire Poacher, is the former apprentice of Gorwydd Caerphilly's creator Todd Trethowan.
I should point out that, if you want to get technical, I have reviewed this cheese before. The cheesemaking method used for Lincolnshire Poacher involves the cheddaring process, so, Lincolnshire Poacher could be considered a cheddar. Since it tastes nothing like American cheddar, and is not cloth-wrapped like the English variety, I think I can have a little leeway here. (As a substitute for the cloth wrapping, they use a synthetic rind, which eventually wears off, resulting in a rough, natural rind.) Plus, it won Best British Cheese at the World Cheese Awards! Come on, I think it's earned its own article.
Texturally, I find the Poacher to have a finer, denser texture than cheddar. Instead, it's more like a well aged Gruyere with a bit of a crunch. Perhaps this is due to the fact that, like Gruyere, the curd is pressed to help expel more whey. The taste has a caramel-like sweetness that is tempered by a certain grassiness. Not necessarily earthy, more like hay and dried oats. Though definitely richer, Linconshire Poacher is not quite as thuggishly bold as a cheddar, choosing instead to let its lingering saltiness remind you of how good it is. I should note that, as with other, similar, cheeses, some interior molding can develop. This bit of blue is perfectly okay and edible, so worry not and enjoy!
In addition to the cheese, Lincolnshire is home to a variety of breweries. I'm pretty sure the locals are having their cheese with a bit of beer and you should too! Check at your local beer store for the likes of: Tom Wood, Bateman or Fulstow Brewery. If they are unavailable, a good lager or english pale ale would do just fine.
For a partial list of resellers, check out the dairy's website. At just $19.99/#, it's definitely what I would consider a "must try" during your next trip to the Whole Foods Fromagerie. Of course, the digital folks at iGourmet also have some available for $21.98/#.