The Very (Holy) Golden Cross!
We’ve had an amazing month at cheese HQ, with one of the highlights our Mothering Sunday showcase, shining a spotlight on 5 incredible, female-led cheesemakers. We had so much fun putting the selection together, and from the feedback we’ve had, you all enjoyed it too which is the most important thing!
Whilst certainly more low-key, my personal highlight though may well have been our visit to Golden Cross farm in East Sussex to catch up with Kevin and Alison Blunt, who make the quite extraordinary goat’s milk cheese, Golden Cross.
This cheese represents everything cheesegeek is all about. Family-run, farmhouse, tiny scale artisan cheesemaking at the highest level. In fact, in my opinion, it is one of the two greatest goat’s milk cheeses being made in the world (and I have tasted a fair few in my time!).
Now, I know many of you may have seen ‘goat’s milk’ and switched off. ‘Goat’s cheese isn’t for me’ you’re thinking. Well, for 10 years I didn’t eat goat’s milk cheese at all for the same reasons you might not be too keen on it. BUT, Golden Cross was one of the cheeses that changed everything.
What is Golden Cross?
It is a goat’s log, modelled on a St Maure de Touraine. It is lightly ashed on the rind (very lightly), and I think this is key in managing the complexity and range of flavours. The rind develops a lovely wrinkled, slightly bloomy texting (a bit like stroking velvet), and when you squeeze it there is a little bit of give on account of a slight breakdown just under the rind.
Why is this cheese so good?
In a word. Care. Almost everything is done by hand, all the way from ladling the curds with steady precision, to the salting and ash coating. The milk is also produced on the farm, metres away from where the cheese is made. This means the milk is as fresh as it can possibly be, and the freshest milk is a critical building block of great cheese. Nothing is done for scale or commercial ambition; it is simply done to make the best piece of cheese you’ve ever tasted.
So what does Golden Cross taste like, and why do I love it so much?
Golden Cross is divine. It has the most incredible texture, slightly dense, but fluffy on the palate, and melt-in-the-mouth. As mentioned, there is also the most unctuous breakdown just inside the rind, similar to what you might find in a Camembert, or a Gorwydd Caerphilly. Squidgy when pressed, slightly darker in colour, but not necessarily runny.
The taste profile reminds me of an Agatha Christie plot line. So many characters, so much complexity, almost impossible to follow if you’re not concentrating. But if you focus, you can almost figure it all out (although it might take a few goes). Either way, it makes for an elaborate, unforgettable experience.
This cheese may give you the giggles, it’s that good.
Depending on the season, and maturity, it can be fresh, citric with a hint of peanut skin nuttiness (earlier in season, younger) all the way to being like rum and raisin with hints of whisky and fermented fruit (later in season, riper).
Almost everyone at the dairy is family, and on the rare occasion Kevin and Alison take time off, their youngest son Matt takes over the reins.
They live on the farm, just a few metres away from both the goats and the cheese room, and their ambition is not to scale, or take on the world of cheese. It is simply to produce a consistently world class product, focusing on doing 1-2 things perfectly. (Their second cheese, Flower Marie, is pretty good too!!).
In my opinion, March-May and October-December are the best times of the year to enjoy Golden Cross. It is fantastic on its own, but it can be accompanied successfully with some honey, figs and/or walnuts. It also works wonderfully well sprinkled liberally on pizza or quiche.
But I would implore you to give Golden Cross a try if you haven’t already. We’ve made it even easier this Spring, as it will be a feature in our seasonal ‘Easter Tina’ box. However you choose to enjoy it, you’ll know you’re tasting something pretty special in the world of cheese, and also supporting Kevin, Alison, and the heart of British cheesemaking tradition.
I hope you all have a wonderful Easter.