Kirkham’s Lancashire is a cheese I have known and loved for many years. I recall sharing it with my friend David Pasternak back in the day. In case you do not know David, he is one of the owners and the Executive Chef of Esca restaurant here in New York. He would come into my cheese “office” daily when we worked together at Picholine and ask what I would recommend. I had already fallen in love with Kirkham’s by then so I wanted to see if he felt the same. It was (as it usually is) in fine form, so David would ask for it frequently, from that day on rarely bothering to ask what I would recommend.
A big part of my job there was to make wine recommendations for cheeses, and vice versa. The Lancashire showed very well with many wine types, both reds and whites. As Pinot Noir was (and still is) a favorite wine, an expression of which many parties would be enjoying when the cheese trolley pulled up, it was pleasing to see how well this varietal paired with this cheese. And so it went with many other reds: Syrah, Barbera, Tempranillo, Gamay, Amarone, Merlot, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Primitivo, even the occasional Cabernet Sauvignon. And of course the white wines paired well too: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Albariño, Sémillon, the occasional Chardonnay, and Champagne. My British friends would say “Give me a pint of ale.”
So what gives this great British traditional such synergy with all these wines and ales?
It mostly comes down to balance. This is a quality Kirkham’s Lancashire possesses. By this I mean that it is not too salty, yet salty enough; not too sour, but acid enough; with a scant trace of bitterness; sweet fresh milk flavor; as well as a pleasing buttery mouthfeel. Pour a little astringent red wine on top and the cheese is able to soften the edges, or a little white wine and the fruit in the wine springs forth.
You have to take care of your Lancashire however. Make sure it is not left out for hours on end; it can dry out, which takes away from the lovely texture. And when you rewrap it, it helps to give your leftover Lancashire its own little microcosm. It is a raw milk cheese so when the pairings succeed they can be brilliant, though when they miss, they can miss badly. It is best to try this “chef’s cheese” alone first, the way David Pasternak always did. Get to know it on its own terms. A keen palate will recognize this cheese as one of the culinary world’s greatest masterpieces.
- Max McCalmanPosted by Artisanal Cheese