We took a beloved Caves cheese and gave it a sweet twist. Blockinghall, a sweet crumbly rindless version of our award-winning Stockinghall Cheddar, becomes Tawnyhall through a process of soaking the cheese in Quinta do Infantado port from Portugal. We sat down with the head of our Caves Team, Peter Jenkelunas, to get the inside scoop on this original cheese experiment–a stunning new creation that boasts a rich, toffee-like profile and a striking red-mahogany marbled pattern.
How did the idea for the cheese come about?
Stockinghall is one of our favorite offerings from the caves and it is very versatile. We started brainstorming different variations of this cheddar and thought a soaked cheese would be really unique. We tried soaking fresh cheddar in about half a dozen different liquids. We tried different liquors, beers, wine, and decided the Port gave us the most unique product. The fruitiness of the port really shines through, and it gave the cheese an appealing crimson color.
Why is a flavored cheese like this one–which has been soaked in alcohol–not categorized as a washed rind?
Tawnyhall was soaked in wine, as opposed to giving regular washes. Also, the cheese was not exposed to oxygen while aging, which limited the amount of microbial growth on the surface. Washed rind cheeses are aged in an aerobic environment, which facilitates an active community of microbes that make up the rind.
Can you describe the flavor or profile differences between this and Blockinghall?
Tawnyhall is only aged for 5 months, so it doesn’t develop all the umami flavor that you would get in a 12-month Blockinghall. Instead, you have a milder, buttery cheese that allows the port to shine through. The predominant flavor notes of Tawnyhall are brown butter, raisin, and toffee.
Port is obviously a natural pairing for this cheese, do you have any other pairing suggestions?
I could see this pairing well with a different type of port–the beer variety.