Cheese of the month December 2017: St Jude from Julie Cheyney, White Wood Dairy/NE Suffolk, UK

„I’d like to make that milk sing in the cheese.“ Julie Cheyney is no romanticising back-to-the-land hippie (and nothing against those!), but a solid, experienced specialist (she was married to a Hampshire farmer for almost 30 years). Since five years she is above all busy with cheese making and for that purpose even moved with her White Wood Dairy from Hampshire to Bungay in the northeast of Suffolk, in search of really good, singing milk.

Her milk comes from Fen Farm’s French Montbéliarde. Two days a week Cheyney takes over the farm’s dairy (where otherwise the brie-like Baron Bigod is made, as well as butter). The very first, unheated milk in the morning she works into her St Jude, a hand-ladled, small round flat lactic cheese created in 2012. Doesn’t look like much, but sings and shines like a bright star in the December sky. Melting on the tongue (really, this is not just a phrase!), it trills, tirets, chirps and moans a wonderful song about the wide sky on the east coast…

I met Cheyney a few days ago in London, at an immensely inspiring talk on the subject of women and cheese organized by the fabulous Neal’s Yard Dairy team. Now I understand why this little chap can sing so beautifully: because the woman who taught him how to knows exactly what she wants, and because she is a perfectionist, but not stubborn. As soon as 2013 she received – very deservedly – the James Aldridge Trophy for the Best British Raw Milk Cheese.

St Jude is not easy to find on the continent (or wherever non-British readers might be), but on „the island“ worth any detour: it will bring light and joy into winter’s darkness, promised.

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