I have strong opinions about a lot of food items. Some of you will call it snobbery (and probably rightfully so), but I consider it knowing what I want. One of these areas is cheese. Especially cheddar cheese. It’s my favorite, and I have taken a lot of time and sampled a lot of different varieties and producers to know what I like. I’ve had cheddar from Vermont, Wisconsin, Oregon, California, New York, Quebec, Ireland, England, the list goes on. So what’s my favorite? English Coastal Cheddar. Now I see you out there rolling your eyes, but this style of cheddar cheese is simply my favorite.
So what makes it so good? Well this style of cheddar has usually been aged around 12-15 months and has had time to develop calcium crystals. This gives the cheese a sweeter, crunchier, hazelnut flavor (I once got into an argument with a Dean & Deluca sales associate over this flavor profile). A calcium crystal manifests itself as a white streak running through the cheese. English Coastal Cheddar is a yellow cheddar, which again to me tastes better than it’s orange siblings. (Cheddar isn’t naturally orange by the way, this results from being dyed, usually with annatto.) This cheddar goes well with anything. I like it best in a roast beef sandwich on a nice sourdough (add whichever toppings you like).
Does this mean I won’t get down with your finest Cracker Barrel or a sharp Cabot. No way. I love cheddar in all it’s forms. But something about an English Coastal Cheddar, to me, just tastes better. You can find in a good cheese shop, or go to Whole Foods where they have the popular Ford Farms variety. Stop and taste the difference, you may never go back again.