Dorstone is an unpasteurised goat’s milk cheese, made in Herefordshire to a traditional French recipe. Sold in individual pieces, it has a light, smooth texture which becomes firmer as it matures, with a soft citrusy tang and yeasty notes. Bright white in colour the cheese is sharply contrasted by its ash coating, which after maturing for about three weeks develops a grey wrinkly appearance.
What’s special about Dorstone
Dorstone has been made by renowned cheesemakers, Charlie Westmead and Haydn Roberts, at Neal’s Yard Creamery since the early 2000s. The dairy sits on Dorstone Hill, from which the cheese takes its name, in the beautiful Golden Valley near Haye on Wye in Herefordshire.
At the Creamery, Raw (unpasteurised) goats milk from a neighbouring farm sits, still warm, in buckets. A small amount of traditional liquid ‘starter bacteria’ and kid goat rennet is added. Most goats cheese makers use calf or vegetarian rennet, so it’s unusual to have a cheese that is, as Charlie puts it “truly goats”. The curd is left over night to slowly set and develop a rounded lactic flavour. In the morning the curds are ladled to drain first before being mixed with salt and packed into moulds and left to drain for another 24 hours. Each cheese is then removed from its mould, brined and rolled in edible charcoal ash, a traditional French technique, which helps to dry out and de-acidify the rind.
After two or three weeks in the drying room, the cheese develops white penicilium mould over the ash which turns to a darker blue-green over time and producing a herby, nutty flavour.
Neal’s Yard Creamery was originally part owned to Neal’s Yard Dairy producing cheese, Greek-style yoghurt and creme fraîche. In 1996 the Creamery set out independently, and Charlie Westhead moved the dairy, and his family, to their current location in Herefordshire. They have a small-scale artisan approach to cheese making. They also operate partly off-grid, generating as much electricity as they can from their own windmill and generating heat from a furnace which burns local wood.
- Wine - Like other fresh goats cheeses, Dorstone, pairs well with white, red or rosé wine, that is young, fresh, unoaked and lightly chilled. Fiona Beckett, Matching Food & Wine, suggests a Sauvignon Blanc as a natural match, she also recommends trying citrusy whites like Bacchus or crisp whites like Pinot Grigio or Albarino or fresh fruity reds like Beaujolais.
- Cider - Think how well apples go with cheese, combine that with Neal’s Yard Creamery’s location in Herefordshire’s cider-making country and you soon recognise that cider could be a perfect match for Dorstone. Choose a vintage cider, such as Aspall Imperial (from Suffolk) or Weston’s Vintage (from Herefordshire) where the tannins can cut through the creamy proteins in the cheese.
- Beer - try a German or German-style wheat beer. The creamy lemon tang in the cheese perfectly compliments the spicy, yeasty flavours in the beer.
The fresh and zesty notes in Dorstone work well in both sweet and savoury dishes. Try it over a salad, folded into a soufflé, melted over bruschetta with red onion and rocket or scattered over a home-made pizza with basil and garlic olive oil.
The cheese’s sharpness also works well with sweet ingredients like beetroot or squash. Try crumbling it over a beetroot salad, or tossing it into a dish of warm butternut roasted squash and pumpkin seeds or chickpeas for texture, mixed through with fresh coriander and, or mint leaves.
The fresh herby flavours of the cheese work well with tender green herbs from basil, to coriander, chives and mint.
For a texture contrast Dorstone is delicious with nuts - walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts, served either together on the cheese board or in a salad such as goats cheese, pear and walnut.
Dorstone also works well with fruit such as blackberries or raspberries (Niki Signit, in her book The Flavour Thesaurus, suggests making a raspberry fool with the addition of a fresh goats cheese), or try it with pears.
Finally, it is delicious spread on sourdough bread and dribbled with a good quality runny honey.