Cheese Showcase: Danish Blue

Castello have been producing their signature cheeses since 1893 with varieties including traditional, regional recipes as well as their own unique crafted cheeses.

Danish Blue is a sharp and salty cheese with a soft and creamy texture. Originally the cheese was made using goat’s milk to traditional French recipes resulting in a similar profile to Roquefort however the Danish cheesemakers wanted a more mild and balanced flavour better suited to sensitive palates and so the switch to cow’s milk was made. In appearance the Danish Blue is pale, creamy off-white with distinctive blue veins throughout.

This cheese is available in 130g retail packs as well as whole wheels and other catering sizes. Click here for more info.

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Cheese & Chutney Pairings

Cheeseboards are often seen as a festive treat however they can be enjoyed throughout the year especially on these long summer evenings. We’ve written previous blogs on what cheeses to put on a cheeseboard but for this one we are focusing on the best chutneys to pair with which cheeses to really bring out the best flavours in both products. The chutneys we recommend are from Waterhouse Fayre, a jam and chutney producer based on the outskirts of Tiverton.

Haystack Tasty Cheddar with Devon Ale Chutney
This cheddar from Barber’s Farmhouse Cheesemakers is deliciously strong with a sharp depth of flavour and delightfully crumbly texture. For such a strong cheese we recommend the Devon Ale chutney, this bestselling chutney is packed full of flavour and really holds up to the robustness of the cheddar. Made using local devon aleapples and onions together with ale from the Red Rock Brewery near Teignmouth, this is a truly Devonian product and makes a fantastic pairing to cheddar.

Tuxford & Tebbutt Stilton with Whortleberry Chutney
The classic Tuxford & Tebbutt Stilton is rich and creamy with a deliciously tangy finish combined with a soft, melt-in-the-mouth texture. This is one of our favourite cheeses and we struggled to match a chutney that didn’t detract from the wonderful flavour. Eventually we decided on this one with whortleberries. Whortleberry is the Devonian name for wild blueberries and this chutney really is a celebration of the fruit and the lovely, not overly sweet flavour perfectly compliments the tangy-ness of the Stilton.

Cornish Brie with Mango Chutney
This Brie from Trevarrian Creamery is mild and creamy with a smooth, buttery texture. We know that cranberries are the traditional accompaniment to Brie but we thought we would mix things up a bit and instead recommend this fruity Mango chutney. Made using chunks of ripe mango with fresh garlic and ginger mango briethis chutney certainly packs a punch and is a refreshing match for the creamy Brie.

Ticklemore Goat with Red Onion Marmalade
The Ticklemore Goat from Sharpham Cheese is smooth and light with a subtle lemony flavour and soft, crumbly texture. Goats cheese is another of our favourites so we didn’t want to overwhelm the delicate flavour and sometimes the classic pairings simply cannot be bettered. This Red Onion Marmalade is delightfully sweet which contrasts with the tangy flavour from the goats cheese – truly a match made in heaven.

Click here to view the full range of Waterhouse Fayre chutneys as well as their delicious jams.

Got another cheese pairing recommendation? Let us know via our social media pages below!

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Cheese Showcase: Smoked Cheese

It’s blue skies and sunshine out there today and BBQ season is well underway. We’re getting into the spirit with our cheese showcase this week – smoked cheese.

The precise origins of smoked cheese are unknown however as with some of the best things it is thought to have been discovered by accident. Most food historians agree that an ancient cheesemonger kept their product close to a wood burning fire and noticed that it gave the cheese a distinct smoky flavour and the much loved smoked cheese was born.
Today there are many ways of smoking cheese from traditional wood fires to modern smokers and the futuristic method of ‘liquid smoke’ being incorporated in the cheese-making process. The intensity of the heat and the variety of wooden chips used both have an impact on the overall smokiness imparted into the cheese. Below we’ve listed some of our favourite smoked cheeses from local favourites to much loved classics.

Quicke’s Smoked
This smoked mature cheddar originates as Quicke’s well flavoured mature Cheddar. Matured for 12-15 months it is then naturally cold smoked over oak chips from trees grown on the Quicke’s estate for up to four hours, during which time the cheese develops a subtle, smoky flavour. This cheese is available in both catering 1.2kg blocks and 150g retail packs.

Dorset Red
The Dorset Red from Ford Farm Cheesemakers is a smooth cheese enriched with natural annatto for a distinct deep amber colour. Made to their traditional Cheddar recipe the cheese is then cold smoked over oak chips overnight leaving a mellow, smoky flavour and soft texture. This cheese is available in 1.2kg blocks and 150g retail packs.

Oak Smoked
This traditional smoked Cheddar from Carron Lodge is cold smoked for up to 24 hours over oak chippings resulting in a delicate smoked flavour and rich golden colour. It is available in 1.kg blocks and 150g retail packs.

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The ‘New Normal’

vanThe last few months have been, to use the word of the moment, unprecedented. We are proud to have been able to continue to supply our customers throughout the pandemic and our staff have been working incredibly hard to make this possible. Below we look at the ‘new normal’ for Isca Foods.

Back in March we began seeing the effects of panic buying as customers who wouldn’t normally use their local community or farm shop began relying heavily on them when supermarkets had low stock levels. Shopping locally and supporting local businesses and producers is our central ethos and, while we regret that the support needed came in this way, we are glad that more people than ever are discovering their own local shop. We hope that once this is over, these new found customers will continue to support their local businesses rather than reverting back to the supermarket.cheriton fitz

With many people self isolating and unable to visit supermarkets we began home deliveries. This started with our MD Liam and his wife Hannah leafleting in their local area after discovering the demand their neighbours were experiencing and spring-boarded from there. We added this to the routes our vans would be doing day to day and developed a separate price list for private deliveries. Our team boxed up these orders as normal and our drivers delivered them to the doorstep of customers. This demand has eased somewhat in recent weeks as supermarkets have put in safety measures and orchardlea (2)social distancing rules however at a time when local people were struggling we like to think that we helped to make a difference.

Our sister company Orchardlea Occasion Foods (run by the aforementioned Hannah) recently launched their range of delicious hampers. Prior to the outbreak the business focused on providing food for all occasions and events from weddings and christenings to birthday parties and business lunches. However from mid March many of these events were cancelled or postponed and as a result Hannah decided to diversify the business and added bespoke hampers to their portfolio. These can be pub lunch hamperdelivered to yourself as a well deserved treat or as a gift for a much missed loved one during lock down. The new ‘Pub Lunch’ hamper has just been added to the range which can include: Bays Brewery beer, Sandford Orchard cider or Sandford Orchard fresh pressed apple juice, a selection of West Country cheeses, Cradoc’s savoury biscuits, Waterhouse Fayre chutney, Chunk of Devon pasty, Burts crisps, Cornish Olive Stall olives, pork scratchings, pork pie and a selection of sliced meats as well as anything else that takes your fancy from pub lunch hamper 2our own range of products. Hampers are bespoke and put together to order so can be truly personalised to yours or the intended recipients favourites. Visit their Facebook page or website for more info.

This is a strange time for all of us and like many businesses we are adapting to ever changing customer needs and requirements. There is always more that can be done to make things easier for everyone, but we like to think that we have made a good start.

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Store Cupboard Ingredients

We have been thinking about how to maximise simple store cupboard ingredients to create nutritious, tasty food during this strange period of self isolation. Our staples include natural yogurt, chorizo and of course cheese! Read on to discover more.

sutton lucy cream (2)Natural yogurt
Natural yogurt is an extremely versatile ingredient and can be used in anything from breakfast oats to a marinade for chicken to spicy sriracha dressings and creamy potato salads. We stock the deliciously thick and creamy Sutton Lucy natural yogurt in both 500g and 140g pots depending on your needs as well as the low fat Langage Farm natural and Greek-style yogurts both available in 450g pots. Why not try this delicious Indian-style spiced chicken recipe or these quick and easy overnight oats for a tasty and nutritious breakfast alternative?

Chorizo
Chorizo is one of our favourite ingredients to cook with for it’s wonderful smoky chorizoflavour and the delicious richness it adds to any dish from stews to burgers and baked eggs to tacos. We stock both authentic Hot Chorizo rings finished with smoked paprika available in 200g rings and sliced retail packed chorizo available in 110g packs with an average of eight slices per pack. This recipe for Prawn and Chorizo Jambalaya is quick and easy to prepare and bursts with Cajun inspired flavours while this Butter Bean & Chorizo stew is warm and hearty and with only four ingredients it can be on the table in only 20 minutes!

Cheese
It will come as no surprise to learn that we absolutely love cheese, from creamy cricket-st-thomas-camembert-220gBrie to tangy Stilton, lemony goats cheese and local gems like the Garlic Yarg from Lynher Dairies and of course traditional farmhouse Cheddar. From classic ham and cheese toasties to luxurious baked Camembert and summery Greek salad with feta or grilled haloumi cheese is the ultimate ingredient to enrich and enliven multiple dishes. Why not try this 70’s take on a classic toastie with rich mature Cheddar, pickled pineapple and fiery sriracha or this baked Camembert with rosemary and garlic is a deliciously comforting treat.

Tried any of these recipes? Tag us in your creations using via our social media pages below!

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Vegan Cheddar Style Cheese Now in Stock!

vegan certifiedThis time last year the first vegan cheese shop in the UK opened its doors. La Fauxmagerie was immediately hit with a media storm when Dairy UK, the dairy industry trade association, sent a letter requesting that owners Charlotte and Rachel Stevens stop describing their products as cheese because it was potentially misleading to customers.

A year on and the number of people turning to vegan and plant based diets is continually rising with many abstaining from meat and dairy in a bid to halt the inevitable environmental impact of farming and agriculture.
This year Veganuary – a nonprofit organisation that encourages people to go vegan for the month of January – reported that over 400,000 people registered to take part compared to 250,000 in 2019. This success is due in part to the rise in availability of vegan products in supermarkets, restaurants and take-away outlets. KFC in particular posted that one million of their new vegan burgers were sold in the first month of sale, the equivalent of one every three seconds. But while plant based burgers have now hit the mainstream vegan cheese seems to have been left behind

vegan cheese (2)This could be because unlike their ‘meat’ counterparts many vegan cheeses have failed to emulate the taste, texture and appearance of traditional cheeses with many described as being bland, and ‘plasticky’. However some brands are beginning to experiment with new ingredients and ‘ageing’ methods as well as developing bacterial cultures similar to those used in the dairy industry.

We have just begun to stock a Cheddar style vegan cheese from Nature & Moi, a French company specialising in dairy free, plant based food. This cheese arrived early last week and was duly cut and tasted by everyone. The verdict?
vegan cheese (2)To preface we are all very much not vegan; we love cheese and our Cheddar range, being mostly from Devon and the West Country, is of excellent quality (if we do say so ourselves!). So this cheese had a lot to live up to.
The texture of the Nature & Moi Cheddar is smooth and supple and while not completely replicating the dense, richness of traditional Cheddar, this one did a fairly good job. The flavours are mild and slightly nutty with a mellow creaminess reminiscent of a very mild cheddar. Overall we thought that this cheese was “not at all bad” which, coming from a group of hardcore cheese lovers, was high praise indeed.

Click here to view the Nature & Moi cheese on our website for more info.

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Midweek Meals

We don’t know about you but we struggle cooking fresh, healthy meals during the week. We get home from work late and feel daunted by the idea of cooking dinner from scratch. For many of us, this often leads to over indulging in take-away and pre-cooked ready meals or simply surviving on snacks and nibbles in the evenings which, as we all know, isn’t good for us. The solution could be preparing ahead, investing in a slow cooker which allows the prep to be done either the day before or in the morning before work or finding a few quick and easy recipes that are also tasty and nutritious and can be cooked throughout the week with both ease and convenience.

gnocchi (2)Gnocchi with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Cornish Blue (serves 2)
This is undoubtedly one of our favourite midweek meals, delicious roasted butternut squash, wilted spinach and creamy blue cheese served with fresh potato gnocchi, this dish full of texture and bursting with flavour. The chilli flakes give the squash a bit of a kick while the Cornish Blue provides a rich creaminess. Try for yourselves following the recipe below:

Ingredients:cornish blue (2)
½ butternut squash, peeled and cut in cubes,
1 pack fresh spinach leaves
½ onion, sliced into wedges
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
100g Cornish Blue
300g fresh gnocchi
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried chilli flakes
salt and pepper

Method:
1: Heat the oven to 220C, Gas Mark 7 and add the olive oil to a baking tray.
2: Once pre-heated add the squash, garlic and onion to the prepared baking tray and add the chilli flakes, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly for an even coating of spices and roast for 30-40 minutes or until lightly coloured.
3: Turn off the oven and remove the baking tray then add the spinach and stir through until mixed with the squash.
4: Return the baking tray to the oven for 4-5 minutes.
5: Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, once boiling add the gnocchi and cook for 2-4 minutes or until all of the gnocchi floats to the top of the water.
6: Serve the gnocchi immediately and top with the squash mix. Crumble over the Cornish Blue and add a drizzle of olive oil (we like to substitute this for balsamic glaze and truffle oil if we’re feeling decadent!)

salmonTeriyaki Salmon with Pak Choi and Noodles (serves 2)
This oriental inspired dish is full of flavour but quick and easy to prepare using store cupboard ingredients. The oily rich salmon is perfectly complimented by the sweet, salty sauce and the pak choi adds a delicious crunchy texture. Find the recipe for this dish below:

Ingredients:
2 salmon filletsSmokedSalmonFillets
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp clear honey
1 tbsp mirrin or dry sherry
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp ginger, peeled and grated
2 pak choi, leaves separated
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 pack fresh egg noodles

Method:
1: Heat the oven to 200C, Gas Mark 6 and place the salmon fillets in a baking tray.
2: Mix 1tbsp vegetable oil, chilli flakes, honey, mirrin or dry sherry, 2 tbsp soy sauce and ginger in a small bowl. Pour over the salmon making sure it is completely covered and bake for 10 minutes.
3: Heat the remaining vegetable oil in a wok and add the garlic. Stir until softened then add the pak choi leaves and fry until starting to wilt.
4: Add the noodles and remaining soy sauce and cook for 5 minutes, taking care not to let the noodles stick.
5: Serve the pak choi and noodles in shallow bowls and top with the salmon, spooning over the remaining liquid from the baking tray.

halloumiBaked Halloumi with Harissa & Honey (serves 2)
This recipe is a new addition to our repertoire but is already a firm favourite. It has everything your taste buds want: salty halloumi, tangy lime, sweet honey and spicy harissa and we love coming home to a cooked meal ready in only 20 minutes. Serve with some fresh crusty bread or traditional Middle Eastern flatbreads; this is a guarantee of smiles all round. Find the recipe below:

Ingredients:halloumi 2 (2)
2 250g portions of Halloumi
2 tbsp clear honey
1 tbsp harissa
juice of 2 limes

Method:
1: Heat the oven to 200C, Gas Mark 6. Line a baking tray with parchment paper leaving enough to wrap over the tray. Place the Halloumi in the middle of the baking tray.
2: Mix together the honey, harissa and lime juice in a small bowl, pour over the halloumi making sure to cover completely.
3: Cover with the remaining parchment paper
4: Bake for 15-20 minutes.
5: Serve immediately with crusty bread

Tried any of these recipes? Tag us in your midweek meal creations on social media via the pages below :)

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The Great West Country Dairy

Cheese has been made in Britain for thousands of years; our moderate climate, year round rain and lush rolling landscape make the country – and more importantly for us the West Country – ideal for dairy farming. As wine is renowned for its ‘terroir’ so cheese develops flavours unique to the grass, soil and climate in/on which the animals graze. In small scale dairies this results in cheeses with different depths of flavour dependent upon these factors which sets them apart from manufactured cheese and production line dairies. In the following blog we explore three West Country dairies and the delicious cheeses that they produce.

The Barber family have been producing their traditional farmhouse cheddar since 1833, making them the world’s oldest surviving cheddar-makers. Daniel Barber began making cheese on Maryland Farm in rural Somerset mainly for his family and farm workers using milk from his own herd of cows. However as demand for the cheese grew more milk was needed and by the 1950’s the family were working with surrounding farms to barbers maturekeep up production.
Today the farm is still very much a family business who have not lost their passion for cheese-making. Time honoured techniques and recipes passed down through the generations combined with modern technology have ensured the longevity of this traditional cheddar. We stock a wide range of Barber’s cheeses including the Vintage Reserve 1833, the Mellow cheddar and the Haystack Tasty as well as their Red Leicester and Double Gloucester cheeses. Click here to view the whole Barber’s lynher dairiesrange.

Lynher Dairies are producers of the award-winning Cornish Yarg cheese. First made in the 1980s on Bodmin Moor by Alan Grey, who found the 17th century recipe for nettle-wrapped cheese in his attic, Yarg is now made by Catherine Mead at their custom built dairy near Truro. Other cheeses include a Garlic Yarg, Stithians cheese and the Cornish Kern which won Supreme Champion at the World Cheese Awards in 2017. The yargrich Cornish milk used in the cheese-making process comes from their own herd of Aryshire cows and is also sourced from nearby farms. This coupled with the cheese-makers’ experience and expertise results in some truly delicious cheeses. We currently stock the classic Yarg and the Garlic version.

Robin Congdon was the original pioneer behind ticklemore cheeseTicklemore Cheese Dairy. In the 1970’s he began reviving the tradition of sheep milking in the UK and, with thirty sheep on a smallholding near Exeter, began producing yogurt and soft cheeses. Soon he and his partner Maurice Ash expanded the business to a larger farm on the banks of the River Dart where the Beenleigh Blue and later Harbourne Blue and Devon Beenleigh3Blue cheeses were developed. The 1980’s were an exciting time for producing speciality cheeses and a larger dairy was built to accommodate new varieties including Ticklemore Goat and Devon Rustic – both of which were given to Sharpham Creamery once production needed to be simplified. We stock their Devon Blue and Beenleigh Blue cheeses.

There are many more dairies and cheeses that we could have mentioned here which proves just how lucky we are to live and work in this beautiful county. The hard work of dairy owners and the expertise of its cheese-makers ensures that the West Country cheese remains a renowned speciality.

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Valentines Cheeses

It will soon be Valentines Day, the most commercialised saints day in modern culture. A day when couples exchange throwaway gifts of teddies, petrol station flowers and cheap chocolates to show their love for one another.

godminsterThis year we too have succumbed to stocking some Valentines gift ideas but in the form of some delicious cheeses – so it’s alright. The Godminster Organic Heart is most often used to top wedding cheese cakes. Made in Somerset using organic milk from the farms own dairy herd, this cheese is matured for up to 12 months during which time it develops a rich and creamy flavour and smooth texture. It is then covered in an attractive burgundy wax and cut into the distinctive heart shape.

The Sharpham Hart is a heart shaped version of their award-winning brie-stylesharpham hart (2) soft cheese. Made on the Sharpham Estate using unpasteurised milk from their own Jersey herd the cheese has a distinct buttery flavour and soft, creamy texture. The unusual spelling of ‘Hart’ comes from the emblem of Dartington Hall – a white hart with which the Sharpham Estate is connected.

Both of these cheeses are available in individual 200g hearts for a limited time, call us now to order yours!

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Local Producers – Curworthy Cheese

Here in Devon we are extremely lucky to have so many fantastic local producers on our doorstep – from artisan cheeses and bespoke blended teas to quality sausages and handmade puddings. In a time when consumers are increasingly concerned with low food miles and the provenance of their food, locality and the ‘shop local’ campaign have never been more apt. With this in mind we are producing a blog series on our local producers and their delicious products, this week focusing on Curworthy Cheese.curworthy

Curworthy Cheese was established almost 30 years ago on Stockbeare Farm near Okehampton. Using milk from her own herd and from local dairy farms Rachel Stephens and her terms of expert cheesemakers produce their distinctive Devonshire cheeses.belstone (2)

The range includes the bestselling Devon Oke, a full-fat, mellow cheese made to a recipe dating back to the 17th century. It is typically matured for 5-6 months during which time the cheese develops a buttery, almost nutty flavour and delicious creamy texture.
Other cheeses include the Curworthy Meldon – a traditional Cheddar blended with Chiltern Ale,  mustard and garlic and encased in yellow wax, the Belstone – a version of the Devon Oke made using vegetarian rennet and the Chipple – mild Cheddar blended with fresh spring onions and encased in green wax.devon oke
The latest addition to the Curworthy family is the Dartmoor Chilli, a traditional Cheddar blended with chillies sourced from nearby Dartmoor Chilli Farm. The recipe has been changed for 2020 and the cheese is now made using Fatalli chillies for extra heat which perfectly compliments its natural mellow, sweetness.

The Curworthy cheeses are all available in both catering, bulk sizes and retail, ready to sell packs. Click here to view the entire range.

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