Brindisa have been working with artisan cheeses from Spain for many years. In 2014 we decided we’d like to improve the way we care for our cheeses and built two dedicated fridges with the help of Jose Luis Martin, one for lactic cheeses and another for hard pressed cheeses we also redesigned and enlarged the cheese counter and refrigerated displays in our Borough Market shop to be able to better present our range of artisan cheeses. We’re a small team and we’re a bit obsessed with ewes’ and goats’ milk cheese from Spain and have learned a lot of our skills from visiting and being visited by our cheesemakers and trying to reproduce the conditions in their maturing rooms.
Brindisa, Borough Market, London
Where are you maturing the cheese?
Why did you enter the competition?
When we heard about the competition, we thought aging a cheddar was so far out of our comfort zone that we just had to give it go. Some Spanish cheese makers have tried their hands at cheddar making and the Canaries have a tradition of large cheese making using pimenton rinds so we thought it would be interesting to combine the two traditions and see what evolves.
What is your relationship with affinage to date?
Affinage is quite a big word, I describe what we do as aging and trying to provide the conditions that a cheese will thrive in before they reach our customers.
How are you approaching the maturation and why have you chosen this approach?
As a company that only has only ever had Spanish cheeses in our cheese rooms we’re very interested to see how the microflora of the rooms will affect the development of flavour in the cheddar. The cheddar will be sharing an environment with ewe’s & goat’s milk cheese from southern Europe. We age cheeses that weigh less than 3kg so we don’t tend to age them for more than 5 months, it will be interesting to see how a cheese develops over a longer period.
Apart from the aging techniques used for the Zamorano Gran Reserva which is aged for two years in an underground cave, we considered a Grazalema style coating the cheese in Iberico lard or a Mahon style where the cheese is rubbed in olive oil and paprika to create a new rind.
We decided to mature the cheddar in the style of a mahon as that is the technique we are most familiar with and we know that mahon curado cheeses can age well for up to 12 months so we’re hopeful we can transfer this technique to a cheddar.
What are your expectations for the matured cheese, flavour profile after 9 months?
On the whole Spanish cheeses are known for their bold flavours and I expect creating a pimenton rind on a cheddar will contribute to concentrating flavour. I don’t expect the pimenton flavours themselves to penetrate far into the paste, the powdered spice creates a breathable layer and controls the activity of cheese mites.
The olive oil may well effect the aromas coming off the cheddar and it will be interesting to see how much the paste of the cheddar absorbs the oil. Mahon often has an aroma of peaches on the rind, it will be interesting to see if this develops on the cheddar too.