“ Brand: Mousetrap Cheeses / Type: Hereford „
Whilst recently visiting Shropshire I popped into a local gourmet food shop - Ludlow Food Centre - to check out the local cheeses. I was impressed with their selection and spotting Hereford Sage asked for a taste and subsequently made a purchase.
Hereford Sage is a cheese manufactured by Mousetrap Cheese from Monkland Cheese Dairy in Herefordshire. I had never heard of them before, but a quick look online reveals them to be a respected regional cheese manufacturer. If you are visiting the area then you can pop in and watch the cheese being made at certain times and they also sell through their own shops and other regional outlets.
The cheese is based on their signature Little Hereford cheese which is made from an old local recipe and kept as traditional as possible, and is still made by hand. It is not one I was familiar with before. Visually it looks a bit like a blue cheese: yellowy-cream in colour with green 'veins' which are actually pieces of fresh sage. It smells averagely strong, by that I mean it is not up there with 'sweaty socks' but does have a distinct (but not unpleasant) cheesy odour. On first taste you can straight away pick out the sage, to me it has a fresh taste, it is not over-powering and there is a slight after-taste that lingers in your mouth briefly. I would say that the texture is creamy but slightly waxy. It is fairly hard and cuts easily without crumbling if you use a proper cheese knife so is easy to serve with biscuits. We originally bought this to share with friends on New Years Eve with some nice biscuits we had bought, along with two other local cheeses. Everyone was really keen to try it as it is something very different, and it was certainly the most popular one and was gone by the next day.
I have not tried this cheese melted on toast, but it doesn't really work on a jacket potato, it brought the rich flavour out quite strongly and I didn't really like it. I mostly enjoy eating it with my favourite savoury biscuits with or without butter (depending on my mood - or if I can be bothered) and sometimes a spicy chilli jam. A crisp, dry white wine doesn't go amiss either!
The cheese is suitable for vegetarians (it contains no rennet) but as it is made by a small regional cheese maker, don't expect to see it pre-packaged in your local supermarket. I know they have their own shops in the region as well as supplying other local independent stores, but they do offer a mail-order service so it can be sent to you elsewhere in the UK. The price I paid at the Ludlow Food Centre was equivalent to £20.90 per kilo.