The Best of British Cheeses: From Cheddar to Blue with Diana Pittet


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There's more to British cheese than Cheddar and Stilton. Discover the breadth of British and Irish cheeses and the historical context that led to their creation, in the company of a cheese expert.

This green-pastured region of the globe produces over 800 different types of cheese, from the firm and nourishing “territorials,” such as Lancashire, Cheshire, and Wensleydale, to the pungent and creamy wash-rinds of Ireland. In this seminar, which will include an optional tasting component, we will explore the wide range of cheeses of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, and identify which cheese-type they belong to, an exercise that will lead to a greater understanding of cheese in general. We will also review the principles of pairing beverages and accompaniments with cheese.

We will explore the region’s distinct agricultural and industrial history and find out why traditional cheeses from this area of Europe are large-format and firm-textured, in contrast, for example, to the little, delicate, fresh cheeses of France. Britain’s move toward urbanization and its early adoption of industrialization, coupled with the ravages of two world wars, has had a lasting impact on its cheeses. But, over the past 40 years, Britain and Ireland have reclaimed their cheeses from the industrial model, and cultivated farmstead and artisanal cheeses, whose complex and delicious flavors reflect the season and place in which they are made. As such, cheeses from the British Isles fully deserve a top spot of the world’s best producers of cheese.

We encourage you to taste your way through the seminar. If you're so inclined, please feel welcome to come with one or all of the following (or a cheese of your liking):

  • Cheddar, preferably a clothbound one, e.g., Montgomery’s, Westcombe, Quicke’s, Keen’s
  • Territorial, preferably farmstead, e.g., Lancashire, Red Leicester, Caerphilly, Cheshire, Wensleydale, Double Gloucester
  • British Isle blue, e.g., Stilton (preferably Colston Bassett), Stichelton, Shropshire Blue, Cashel Blue
  • Irish washed rind, e.g., Gubbeen, Durrus
  • Sheep’s milk, e.g., Spenwood, Berkswell, Wigmore, Lord of the Hundreds
  • Goat’s milk, e.g., Ticklemore, Ragstone, Dorstone, Rachel

Led by cheese and cocktail expert Diana Pittet, this interactive seminar will explore cheeses from the British Isles. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased appreciation for British and Irish cheeses and for the historical context that led to their creation.

A former Latin teacher, Diana left the classroom to be schooled in farmstead cheeses from the British Isles by working at Neal's Yard Dairy, a pioneering cheese shop in London. She has visited artisanal cheesemakers throughout the British Isles and spent a summer making cheddar cheese on the Isle of Mull in Scotland. Back in the classroom as a student, Diana earned a master's degree in food studies from New York City and wrote her final paper on the Americanization of English cheddar. She has been interviewed by the New York Times about her passion for cheese, and has shared this passion and knowledge in articles, blogs, and tasting rooms. An avid traveler, Diana has visited a total of 50 different countries by the time she was 50 and has delighted in the cheese of each country.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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