Did you know that there are over a million Stilton cheeses are sold a year and that a third of Stilton’s annual sales are made in run up to Christmas totalling up to 2,500 tons in the UK alone. Stilton is smooth and creamy with an acidic flavour. It is the perfect cheese to drink with Chateau Pessan (£12.72) - if you are eating Stilton with biscuits and you are looking for a wine, then Stilton needs one with a depth of flavour. Château Pessan hails from Graves – which is often considered to be the birthplace of claret. The château is owned by the Comtes de Bournazel who have 400 years of wine making experience and also own Chateau de Malle. It is a deliciously velvety wine, deep and dense, perfectly balanced with hints of black fruits, spice, coffee, smoke, eucalyptus, pepper and oak. The wine is a superb buy and is starting to attract attention on the world market.
The Comtes de Bournazel have been making wine for a century longer than the cheese makers have been making Stilton. Stilton is relatively young compared to some British cheeses having first been made in the 18th century. Stilton is still made in much the same way as it was when Daniel Defoe, writing in his “Tour through England & Wales” in 1727, remarked that he “. . . passed through Stilton, a town famous for cheese." And yet, Stilton was never made in the town of Stilton!
Stilton is situated about 80 miles north of London on the old Great North Road. In the 18th century, the town was a staging post for coaches travelling from London to York. Horses would be changed and travellers served light refreshments at one of the hostelries in the town. Cooper Thornhill, an East Midlands entrepreneur, was landlord at the famous Bell Inn and it was he who introduced these travellers to a soft, creamy, blue veined cheese which subsequently took its name from the town. Thornhill had brought the cheese from a farmer’s wife by the name of Frances Pawlett who lived near Melton Mowbray.
Stilton and Cauliflower Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
3 pints of vegetable stock
stilton, to taste
Dice the potatoes, cauliflower and onion and add to pot with the butter and oil and about 4 tbsp of water. Heat whilst stirring, then put the lid onto the pot and cook gently for around 15 minutes to soften the vegetables, stirring occasionally and replacing the lid or shaking the pan to avoid sticking. Next add the water, bring to the boil and then simmer gently for around 25 - 30 minutes, then reserve the liquid and liquidize the vegetables in a food processor. Return to the water and crumble the Stilton cheese in and season to taste.