“ Brand: Shepherds Purse Cheeses / Type: Cheeses „
Shepherds Purse are a family company based in North Yorkshire and they make the most wonderful cheeses all from ewes milk. Many people associate cheese with that made from cows milk, but of course Greece is famous for Feta and France for Roquefort, both wonderful cheeses and each made from sheep milk.
I first became aware of this company when I visited a local deli in Colchester, a few miles from my home, where I first sampled their lavender cheese, but even more joy was to be mine when I discovered that they operated a mail order service for their cheeses which are as diverse as you can imagine.
The one which I noticed first on their order form was called Basilano, and it was this which joined my Lavender as I ventured into the realms of the unknown!
I paid £3.65 for 120g, and as postage is free I thought for an artisan cheese this represented very good value.
The cheese is packaged in a beautiful card sleeve decorated with a lovely rural scene, with a Tuscan looking farmhouse and tall imposing poplar trees. It is presented in a wedge when you purchase online, the photograph is the version you see in cheese shops, where you would be served with a slice of your choice.
Described as a fresh white ewes milk cheese coated in a secret blend of English and Italian herbs, this cheese is bursting with flavour. It is made from pasteurised milk and is suitable for vegetarians.
My daughter was home for the weekend from Wales, and I thought she would love this cheese as she favours the whiter cheeses like Wensleydale and Cheshire, and this certainly has elements of these in its flavour, which is creamy and reminiscent of the texture of a good Greek Feta. However this has a beautiful basil taste and together with a fresh vine ripened tomato is delicious.
We had crackers and cheese lunch and my daughter agreed with me that this cheese was outstanding. It is so unique and has an appeal like no other as it has a clean yet tangy taste, and the herbs they have combined are just in the right proportions to give a flavour which is distinct, but not overwhelming.
A closer inspection on the side of the pack reveals the herbs they use in detail, and these include oregano and rosemary as well as basil. I actually love oregano and this is probably why this cheese appeals to me, as I have several oregano plants outside on my patio which I use most days in cooking.
Although we enjoyed the cheese on crackers, I actually treated myself to a delicious salad today with the leftovers, which I made by drizzling olive oil over some tomatoes, and then added this cheese crumbled over the top. I also added a few oregano leaves which finished it off really well, and I thought it was an absolute pleasure.
Shepherds Purse has been making ewes cheese now since the late 1980s, having diversified away from exclusively using cows milk. Many people find sheep cheese easier to digest than cows milk cheeses, and certainly ewes cheeses are becoming more available especially at markets, and in specialist wholefood shops and delicatessens.
What I love about this family company is that they employ eleven people in their purpose built creamery. This is a great asset to the local community in North Yorkshire providing jobs in an area which is economically challenged.
Their cheeses consistently win awards, and have become so popular that some varieties are now being sold in the large supermarket chains. As well as the ewes cheese the company also make a range of blue cheeses, and indeed were the first to reintroduce blue cheese making to Yorkshire in the early 1990s.
Ordering from the company is simple but you do have to print off the order form and post a cheque to them, as they do not accept online orders or cards. However delivery is very swift indeed, and you can expect your cheese to be with you in a few days, beautifully packed in ice, and often sent by special delivery at no charge to you as delivery is free.
I am working my way through their collection and Basilano is so far my favourite. It has a Mediterranean feel to it and has a rich herby flavour and tangy after taste, which is perfect for the spring and summer months ahead. If you do buy some then try to get hold of those Hovis digestive biscuits as they make a perfect combination. Summer on a plate is what you get with this cheese!