Half Term Days Out

Here at Isca Foods we are proud supporters of keeping things local, after all some of the best things can be found on your own doorstep. This February half term why not take the kids to one of our many amazing local attractions where there’s plenty to keep them entertained and work off some of that boundless energy!

Pecorama
Set on the hillside above the pretty East Devon village of Beer Pecorama is home to the famous PECO Model Railway Exhibition and the Beer Heights Light Railway complete with fully operational miniature steam locomotives. The train line now runs for one mile around the park with spectacular views over Lyme imagesBay and the Jurassic Coast. When the weather turns against you the Play Station – an indoor 3-storey soft play area – will definitely be a hit with the kids, it also boasts a lovely little café serving homemade cakes, traditional Devonshire cream teas and barista-style coffee which we’re sure will be more of a hit for you! Check out their website for opening times as well as special half term activities http://www.pecorama.co.uk/.

Greendale Farm Shop
Just off of the main Sidmouth Road outside Exeter this farm shop is a great way of getting the kids out of the house and engaging with farm animals this half term. As well as a thriving shop boasting fresh, locally sourced meat, fish andoutside vegetables there are a host of pigs, sheep and chickens roaming the fields around the farm. After looking at all that local produce you may have worked up an appetite. Don’t worry there is a fantastic on-site café with an extensive menu showcasing the best the South West has to offer and catering to a range of tastes including vegetarian and gluten-free options. For more info and opening times visit their website here: https://www.greendale.com/.

Beaches
019191Don’t worry we’ve not gone mad, we know it’s only February and much too cold to fully appreciate a dip in the sea, but Devon is home to some of the best beaches in the country so grab the bucket and spades and enjoy a fun-filled day out at your local beach. Many beach side attractions and, perhaps most importantly, beachfront cafés will be open for the half term trade so let the kids run off some steam while you warm up with a coffee and cake.

Whatever you do this week we hope you have a lovely half term!

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Valentines Home-Cooked Food Ideas

sketchy-hearts-579be9955f9b589aa98c282dSometimes it just makes more sense to have a romantic, cosy night in for Valentines Day. With overcrowded restaurants, overpriced food and the cost of getting a babysitter in for the evening or a taxi home later on as well as gifts and cards for your significant other, it can be a less than relaxing evening. Instead, take your pick of one of these delicious menu ideas, grab a good bottle of fizz and take to the kitchen. A lot of these ideas can be prepared in advance or take little time to cook so you can simply enjoy each others company.

Starters
We’ve said it before and I’m sure we’ll be saying it many more times to come – we love a baked Camembert. Easy to prepare and deliciously naughty, we love it with some fresh, crusty bread and a balsamic glaze but you can jazz it up as cricket-st-thomas-camembert-220gmuch as you like. Score the top of the cheese and add some fresh rosemary and garlic before baking, pair with a variety of chutneys, add some finely chopped bacon – the opportunities for this baked box of goodness are endless. Why not try this Somerset Camembert made by Lubborn Cheese at Cricket St Thomas, Somerset full of delicious buttery flavours and a soft, edible white rind?

pateA simple starter that requires no preparation and is ready in the time it takes to burn some toast, this rich paté with some fruity chutney and peppery rocket is sure to hit the spot. Try our coarse cut duck paté  with orange zest and mixed herbs, paired with a Waterhouse Fayre handmade chutney for a truly delicious starter.

Mains
Create a restaurant style dish at home with cod lointhis baked cod loin wrapped in proscuitto ham full of the flavours of summer. We like this with some roasted Mediterranean vegetables and sauteed potatoes but if you’re feeling more adventurous, or really want to bring out those fishy flavours, try making a creamy crab risotto to go with it and we promise you won’t be disappointed.

Steak is becoming more of a staple for home stilton3cooked Valentines dinners and we can see the appeal – ready in minutes and with lots of sides to tempt you it’s the perfect meal to indulge and treat yourself and your partner. Serve with chunky, thick cut chips, roasted tomato and crunchy onion rings. We like experimenting with sauces so instead of traditional peppercorn why not try a luxurious Stilton sauce instead made with the rich and creamy Tuxford & Tebbutt Stilton?

Dessert
To be honest we’re not really dessert people so forgoing dessert we’ve chosen a locally sourced cheeseboard with crisp crackers, grapes, apple and chutneys 486-1instead. This is something you can pick at later in the evening after a few glasses of wine when you’re not feeling quite so full and the fresh fruit and maybe a few sticks of celery will make you feel not quite so decadent. How about a classic, rich mature Cheddar from Quicke’s, smooth and creamy Cornish Brie from Trevarrian Creamery, fresh tasting Devon Blue from Ticklemore Cheese and deliciously flavoured with pungent garlic leaves Lynher Dairies Garlic Yarg? Of course a cheeseboard can be filled with any of your favourite cheeses and these are just a few of those we think would work together, experiment and see what works for you.

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Warming Winter Recipe Ideas

It’s that time of year again; Christmas is over, it’s still cold and summer seems like a long way away. What we need right now is some comforting, hearty food to see us through until spring – at the very least until next week. We’ve come up with some great tasting menu ideas for a mid-week dinner that’ll have you feeling brighter in no time.

Chorizo and Butter Bean Stew
This chorizo and butter bean stew is rich and hearty – perfect for these cold winter nights and bursting with smoky, flavours and a slight kick from the paprika and chilli powder. This is surprisingly filling and delightfully warming. We love it hot pot style with some thinly sliced potatoes on top but it would also be great with some jacket potatoes for lunch or even some rice or pasta.

Ingredients:chorizosarta
1 tbsp oil
200g diced chorizo
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tin butter beans, rinsed
2 tbsp dried parsley
1 tin chopped tomatoes

Method:
1: Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion and garlic and cook until beginning to soften.
2: Add the chorizo, paprika and chilli powder and cook for 2-3 minutes.
3: Add the chopped tomatoes, butter beans and parsley and bring to the boil.
4: Turn down the heat and allow to simmer gently for 30-40 minutes and it’s ready, if you’re adding the hotpot topping, peel and thinly slice 900g potatoes, transfer the stew to a casserole dish and top with the potatoes. Drizzle with some melted butter and cook at 200C for 1½ hours until the potatoes are cooked through.

Mac ‘n’ Cheese
A comforting winter staple that is beautifully gooey and more-ish. We’ve kept things simple with only one type of cheese but with the complex richness of Quicke’s mature Cheddar we don’t think it needed any more. The crunchy breadcrumb and Parmesan topping adds delicious variety and texture that we could happily eat all winter – if only our waistlines agreed!

quicke matureIngredients:
100g butter
100g plain flour
400g Quicke’s Mature Cheddar, grated
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 pint milk
500g dried macaroni, or other tubular pasta
60g breadcrumbs
50g Grana Padano, grated

Method:
1: Heat the butter in a large saucepan until melted then add the plain flour and cook for 1 minute until combined thoroughly.
2: Add the mustard and remove from the heat.
3: Whisk in the milk and put back on the heat. Stir continuously until the sauce thickens.
4: Add the Cheddar and stir until it has melted into the sauce then remove from the heat.
5: Boil the macaroni in salted water for 10-12 minutes, or until al dente and drain.
6: Butter an oven-proof dish and pre-heat the oven to 200C.
7: Stir the macaroni into the sauce and pour everything into the buttered dish.
8: Mix the breadcrumbs and Grana Padano together with some black pepper and scatter over the top of the pasta. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.

Chicken & Smoky Bacon Pie
Pie is the ultimate comfort food and we think this version really hits the spot. The smokiness of the bacon is delicious with the rich and creamy sauce – not for the January dieters among us! We used the cheats version of shortcrust pastry but if you have the time it’s great to make your own, if not this works just as well. Serve with some chunky chips and greens or buttery mash and gravy for extra decadence.

Ingredients:smoked bacon
225g ready rolled shortcrust pastry
1 tbsp oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
250g smoked bacon (about 7 rashers), cut into small pieces
100ml white wine
2 tsp fresh thyme
100ml water
50ml double cream
1 medium egg, beaten

Method:
1: Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
2: Heat the oil in a large pan and brown the chicken and bacon.
3: Add the wine, water and thyme and season with black pepper.
4: Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the liquid has significantly reduced.
5: Remove the pan from the heat and gently stir in the cream until combined.
6: Pour the filling into your pie dish and roll out the pastry for the lid.
7: Lay the pastry over the pie dish and trim the edges – remember to make a hole in the middle for steam to escape, seal and brush with the beaten egg.
8: Cook for 25-30 minutes until golden.

These dishes would make delicious mid-week winter meals, let us know how yours turn out!

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Source Trade Show 2019!

source tradeWe are excited to be exhibiting again at this years Source Trade Show held at Westpoint Arena, Exeter from 6th-7th February! Showcasing the best from local food producers, hospitality and the catering sector, this is a great show for seeing a wide range of what the South West has to offer – we certainly think so as this is currently the only show we attend.

We will be bringing a wide selection of our products to display as well as showcasing some new products for this year. One of these is a new range of frozen, home cooked ready meals from Olive’s Kitchen. Originally established in 2013 as a deli, demand for their own cooked frozen meals soon overtook freshChocolate Brownie Pack produce and as a result the deli closed in 2016 to allow them to fully concentrate on Olive’s Kitchen. Today they use traditional family methods and home-cooking techniques to produce genuinely delicious food. We can’t wait for you to try their Lamb Navarin – a take on the French classic of slow cooked lamb with root vegetables and tomatoes and for dessert why not try the Chocolate Brownie Pudding, deliciously decadent with a rich and indulgent melt-in-the-middle centre – perfect with a spoonful of equally indulgent clotted cream.

Alongside these new products we will also sampling from Curworthy Cheese. Made on the same farm for the last 25 years, we stock a variety of their cheeses including the sibling to the original Curworthy recipe Devon Oke. This is a full-fat hard cheese matured for six months, during which time it develops its belstonecharacteristic buttery, creamy flavour and smooth texture similar to Gouda. A more recent addition to their repertoire is the Dartmoor Chilli which is made to the traditional Curworthy recipe but with the addition of fresh Ring of Fire chillies sourced from the nearby Dartmoor Chilli Farm. This cheese is matured for only 6-8 weeks which leaves a mellow, slightly sweet cheese able to take the heat of the chillies.

We will also be offering on the day deals on selected bacon, hams and cheeses, however as these will not be revealed until the day you’ll have to come and see us on Stand G31 to grab a bargain!

We hope to see you there!

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New Year New You?

It’s that time of year again. A clean slate, fresh start, the start of 2019 brings about the chance to start again but whether it’s trying something new, cutting down after the indulgence of the festive season or vowing to quit that lifelong habit, it can be daunting to begin with many of us giving up before the end of the month.

Quality_StreetThe majority of new years resolutions probably have something to do with getting healthier, be it trying to lose weight or a resolve to get more exercise. After sometimes a week or more of over indulgence you can almost feel your body craving for something other than chocolate for breakfast. However it can be daunting cutting out absolutely everything so to minimise the shock to the system gently replacing those Christmas treats with some healthier alternatives.

Replenish some of those vitamins with one of Rod & Ben’s deliciously warming Spiced Lentilsoups. Choose from a variety of flavours including their Spiced Lentil with turmeric and cumin, Rustic Chicken Broth with potatoes, carrots and onions and classic Tomato and Basil. Made using organic, fresh and seasonal produce these soups are full of natural goodness and flavour and who doesn’t love a soup during these cold winter months?
Dorset_Blue_Vinny02Although not strictly healthy Dorset Blue Vinny is much lower in fat than its blue cheese counterparts and can still be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. Made using the ‘leftover’ milk after the cream has been skimmed off for butter-making it retains a creamy, subtle flavour and slightly crumbly flavour. Made by the same family for the last 40 years, each cheese takes 24 hours to make and up to 20 weeks of maturation but it is definitely worth the wait. Top your crackers to your hearts content, just don’t add too much butter!

The recent rise in people participating in ‘Veganuary’ means that getting yourSquash_Curry_3_(1_of_1) five-a-day has never been easier. Whether or not you have decided to give it a try, there is no denying that some extra veg never hurt anyone. Slightly different from the traditional Boxing Day turkey curry, this butternut squash version from Lodge Farm Kitchen is packed with nutrients as well as being deliciously tasty. They are passionate about delivering great quality gourmet ready meals using the finest local produce and tried and tested home-cooking methods. This curry is made using locally sourced squash, coconut milk and fresh coriander and makes a hearty lunch sure to fill you up until dinner time.

Whatever your new years resolutions we wish you all the best, if all else fails, try again in 2020!

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The Rise of the Gourmet Ready Meal

tv dinnerReady meals conjure up images of tasteless, bland food; the traditional TV dinner served in foil trays and often left, congealing and discarded on the coffee table. These days however, the ready meal has come into its own. With societies increasingly hectic schedules, longer working hours and increasing commuting times, getting in from a long day at work to a home cooked meal is often not a reality for most people. Recent market research found that the UK currently spends £4.7 billion on ready to eat convenience food each year and an increase in consumer demands for good quality food means that the humble ready meal has never been better – the rise of the gourmet ready meal is happening. An emphasis on fresh, locally sourced ingredients, expertly cooked and free from the traditional additives and preservatives means that they can be as good in quality as genuine home cooked meals.

lodge farm (2)Lodge Farm Kitchen are producers of gourmet ready meals based in beautiful Ross-on-Wye. A family business established in 2009 on their own farm they used home grown vegetables and beef from their own herd of Dexter cattle. With the expansion of the business and relocation to new premises, they now rely on produce sourced from the surrounding area and are proud to support local farmers. The meals themselves are prepared by expert, creative chefs who are passionate about creating great quality meals. Once cooked the meals are blast frozen to lock in the flavour and nutrients, meaning there is no need to add the Fish pie Pie- final Hi res (1 of 1)artificial preservatives often found in ready meals. There is lots of variety to choose from so you’re not stuck for choice! Their luxury fishpie is made with poached haddock and salmon in a creamy parsley sauce and topped with mashed potato, the Thai green chicken curry is made using free range British chicken and homemade Thai sauce with chillies, lemongrass, cumin and coriander and their roasted vegetable lasagne made with slow cooked tomato concasse, courgettes, aubergines, peppers and mushrooms layered with pasta and bechamel sauce and topped with mature Cheddar cheese is absolutely delicious! None of those take your fancy? The full range is available to view here: http://www.iscafoods.co.uk/lodge-farm-kitchen/.

Ready meals are continuing to evolve with the times with many companies now1 Fish Cakes Double cottoning on to the big business of gourmet frozen meals made with locally sourced, fresh ingredients and perfectly cooked. Many companies are now reducing the amount of plastic used in the production of their frozen meals including Lodge Farm Kitchen who ensure that all of their packaging can be re-used. This evolutionary business means that there is now a tasty, viable alternative to traditional TV dinners.

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Smoking for Foodies

smokingWe have been smoking food for generations; using it to preserve food for long periods of time and for its tenderising and flavour carrying properties. It has been suggested that the recent resurgence of smoking food comes from a primeval attraction to fire and the memories it evokes, the smell of meat roasting on a BBQ is probably the modern equivalent of this as we imagine the delicious, tender meat we are about to eat. Cold smoking is generally used to smoke cured meats and fish as the temperature is usually kept to between 20-30bbq degrees meaning that the food being smoked is not cooked but merely infused with the smoky flavours. Hot smoking exposes the food to both heat and smoke and this is used to fully cook foods, creating moist meat and full, smoky flavours.
We stock a variety of smoked foods including the traditional cheese, fish, bacon and meats and we’ve listed some of our favourites below.

s9090Smoked Fish
Our John Ross smoked salmon is cold smoked over oak chips in the same red brick kilns used in the 19th century. The smoking process produces succulent flavours and a tender texture in the salmon which is sustainably farmed in the pure, clear waters of Scotland. This is available in 100g packs ideal for 1-2 people. We source the rest of our smoked fish range from Jacksons Fishmongers of Newton Abbot who prepare and smoke the fish sourced from Brixham fish market in their own kiln. We currently stock their rich and meaty smoked mackerel, smoked mackerel with crushed black peppercorns, lightly smoked trout and the classic Victorian breakfast dish, butterflied smoked kippers.

Smoked Cheese
We currently stock a variety of smoked cheeses all with varying degrees ofsmoked smokiness and flavour. Based in the lush valley of Newton St Cyres near Exeter the Quicke’s Oak Smoked cloth-bound cheddar is one of our favourites. It is naturally cold smoked over oak chips from their own trees for up to four hours, creating a subtle smokiness that compliments the cheeses’ buttery flavours.  Windyridge Cheese are artisan cheese makers based in Wincanton, Somerset. Their Bonfire Smoked cheese is made with smooth, creamy mature cheddar which is infused with rich, smoky flavours and dusted with paprika. The Dorset Red is made by Ford Farm Cheesemakers in Dorset. Their traditional mature cheddar is cold smoked over oak chips overnight which results in its distinctive smoky flavour and rich amber colour.

englishcuresmokedbackSmoked Meats
Our English cured smoked bacon is sourced from Devon Choice of Teignmouth, their bacon is full and rich in strong, smoky flavours which are great in pies, bacon sandwiches or a quiche Lorraine. The majority of our cured salamis are also lightly smoked including Danish, peppered and chorizo – our chorizo is also coated in smoked paprika for extra flavour.

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Winter Party Food Ideas

This festive season we’ve got everything you need to ensure your dinner party, work buffet or simply an evening with friends goes off without a hitch, well the food at least! This time of year is the perfect excuse to show off your culinary skills and create mouth-wateringly good food using the finest ingredients.

5b057383-dbb8-4659-8b30-a73800a70a0f_800x800A simple classic some smoked salmon and cream cheese canapés will go a long way to pleasing your guests. Try them on some bought in crispbreads with some chive if you’re short on time or try making your own potato cakes with some dill and lemon for extra flourish. Our John Ross smoked salmon is cold smoked over oak chips using the same techniques passed down since the 19th century and is deliciously light and delicate with subtle smoky flavours and goes beautifully with cream cheese.

Another crowd-pleaser and Christmas staple is some baked camembert. This can1h4a9552_28727765675_o-1 be made really easy by simply baking the camembert as is and adding some garlic bread or crackers and a nice chutney – we recommend the Pear & Walnut chutney from Waterhouse Fayre as the flavours really compliment the cheese. However if you fancy making more of a centrepiece try baking a tear and share dough ball platter with some rosemary, thyme and cranberries. The dough helps the camembert to keep its shape as well as taking on some of the oozey cheese as it bakes – delicious!

BasilA classic meat and cheese platter is the perfect prepare ahead party option. Mix and match with the meat: some prosciutto, salamis, chorizo, pastrami – anything you and your guests will like. For the cheese we advise to pick a variety of different textures and varieties, a soft creamy brie, firm vintage, tangy blue and a sheeps, cow and goats cheese for a range of different flavours. Add some  sunripened tomatoes, salty olives – try some from the Cornish Olive Stall range – grapes and of course some warm crusty bread and you’re good to go.

For a buffet style dinner party the opportunities are endless, hot, cold, meat andChunk-Pork-Apple-Scrumpy-Sausage-Roll-600x630 vegetarian there are so many options. For the meat eaters try some festive pork and cranberry chipolatas from W F Chinn’s or their pigs in blankets are equally delicious. Chunk of Devon sausage rolls and pork pies in buttery pastry are a must as well as traditional honey-roasted gammon hot or cold from Kittos of Plymouth. For the vegetarians how about an Indian treat with some crispy vegetable samosas or deliciously creamy blue stilton and broccoli quiche.

We hope this has given you some ideas for the festive season, for more info on any of the products we’ve mentioned head over to our website.

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Shop Local this Christmas

Related imageThe Shop Local campaign was launched in 2013 encouraging consumers to support their local, independent traders on the high street. There are many advantages to shopping locally including low food miles, finding something quirky and unique, building communities and getting better service to name just a few. Here at Isca Foods we are passionate about supporting local businesses. Many of our products are sourced from within the South West and collected from the producers themselves from jams and chutneys from Waterhouse Fayre, cheeses from Devon based Quicke’s and Sharpham and pies and pasties from Chunk of Devon in Ottery St Mary.

Christmas is an important time for many small businesses and this year why not support local and buy your gifts closer to home? We are lucky here in the South West that there are so many great community shops, deli’s and farm shops selling excellent local produce. We’ve listed a few of them below, so why not take a chance and make someone’s Christmas local this year?

Greendale Farm ShopImage result for greendale farm shop
Located just outside of Exeter this is so much more than a farm shop. With a butchers, deli and cheese counter, cafe and a host of farm animals roaming the grounds, a trip to Greendale is a real family day out. The farm shop itself sells a wide range of locally sourced products from fresh fruit and veg, local cheese, handmade pies, sliced cooked meats and charcuterie and specialist meat cuts by their award-winning butchers; you need look no further for your foodie treats this Christmas!

download (1)Fine Foods of Braunton
A family run delicatessen based on the gorgeous North Devon coast, this unassuming shop also boasts a cafe serving delicious freshly ground coffee and a selection of cakes and savouries. The deli prides itself on sourcing the best of local produce from cheeses, wines and spirits, olives, local creams and yogurts and sliced meats as well as handmade gifts. It’s ethos of good old fashioned service from knowledgeable staff makes it not just another shopping trip but a great experience.

Otterton-Logo.-Colour_crop-e1536159423675Otterton Mill
Set beside the River Otter in East Devon this historic mill draws visitors for its beautiful setting, reputation for fantastic food in the award-winning restaurant and their range of tasty treats in the food shop. A huge range of fantastic cheeses, delicious freshly baked bread and cakes, local sausages, handmade pies, sliced meats, olives and more as well as handmade unique ceramics, glassware and jewellery  in the gallery are on offer here. Pop along for lunch or afternoon tea and we bet you won’t leave empty handed!

Image result for stokeley farm shopStokeley Farm Shop
This thriving country farm shop based near Kingsbridge in South Devon is proud to support local producers and the local community, regularly holding live music events, crafting evenings and this years widely anticipated Christmas Market. It has everything you would expect from a farm shop: butchery, bakery and deli as well as fresh, homegrown fruit and veg. Their deli is bursting with local delights including olives, charcuterie and award-winning artisan cheeses as well as local chutneys, jams and pickles.

45541231_1986106681479573_4920883604579418112_nThere are of course many more fantastic deli’s, farm shops and community shops throughout the South West that we haven’t listed here, this time of year is the perfect opportunity to explore, find your new favourite and treat your loved ones to unique gifts. With fantastic local produce, low food miles, individual and often homemade items and bespoke service from someone who really knows their business and products, why not support your local deli, farm shop or community enterprise this Christmas?

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World Cheese Awards 2018

Last week saw the return of the prestigious World Cheese Awards in Bergen, Norway. Thousands of cheeses from all corners of the world assembled to be judged by an expert panel of more than 230 judges. A number of our very own West Country cheese producers made the top half of the list; we’ve listed some of them below and congratulate all the winners on their tremendous success.

QuickesGroupQuicke’s Goat Milk
The Quicke’s are no strangers to awards and have been producing their traditional cloth-bound cheeses for the last 500 years. This Goat Milk cheese is matured for six months, during which time it develops a clean, buttery and slightly nutty flavour. It was judged worthy of a Gold award at this years awards.

Dorset Blue Vinny
Dorset Blue Vinny also scooped a Gold at the World Cheese Awards while alsoDorset_Blue_Vinny02 winning Best Blue Cheese at the Great British Cheese Awards. Made on Woodbridge Farm in Dorset, traditionally the ‘blueing process’ was encouraged by dragging mouldy horse harnesses through the milk however nowadays this practice has fallen out of fashion and instead long narrow pins spike the cheese, allowing air into it which helps the mould to grow and the flavour to develop.

Cornish Blue
This cheese previously won World Champion at the World Cheese Awards in 2010 and this year won Super Gold, an accomplishment awarded to the top 78 cheeses who then compete for the title of World Champion. Made by the Cornish Cheese Company on Bodmin Moor, the rich Cornish milk gives this cheese a creamy, buttery flavour and slight sweetness not commonly found in English blues.

Check out our website http://www.iscafoods.co.uk/cheese/ for our full list of award winning cheeses.

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