The British Cheese Playlist

Patrick McGuigan and Ned Palmer

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  • Full Price: £5.00 Member: £5.00

The story of cheese.

This is an online event hosted on the British Library platform. Bookers will be sent a link in advance giving access and will be able to watch at any time for 48 hours after the start time.

According to Ned Palmer, author of the acclaimed A Cheesemonger’s History of the British Isles, the story of cheese tells the history of this land. And in the view of Harry West, professor of anthropology at Exeter University and expert on artisan food, cheese production tells us much about our relationship to memory, tradition and change.

Chaired by Patrick McGuigan, author of the British Library publication The Philosophy of Cheese, this event includes a virtual British cheese tasting session, alongside discussion of their history, culture and production Ahead of the event the audience will be provided with a list of cheeses being featured.

We are pleased to have teamed up with the award winning Courtyard Dairy, champions of artisan cheese, who are able to provide a tasting cheese box containing all the cheeses which will be discussed during this event. Details of the selection box are below. Order direct via this link: Orders need to be placed by Saturday morning to ensure delivery in time for the 11th May.

If you would prefer to purchase cheese for the event from your local cheesemonger we suggest you show them the list below and ask them to match with similar cheeses. If purchasing from a supermarket we suggest you select a young fresh goat’s cheese, (or if you don’t like goat’s, a soft cow's cheese like Brie or Camembert) a washed rind (like Stinking Bishop), a mature Cheddar and a Stilton.

The Courtyard Dairy selection box includes:

Dorstone. Unpasteurised goat’s milk. 180g

A fresh young goat’s cheese made by Charlie Westhead in Herefordshire. With its simple flavours and low tech-make, this is the kind of thing the Neolithic builders of Stonehenge might have eaten.

Or (for the non-goat selection):

St Jude. Unpasteurised cows’ milk.  90g
A light fresh-young soft cheese. Julie is dedicated to quality – hand-ladling the St Jude curd to create this fresh, milky, lemony cheese with a silky mouth-feel.

St James. Unpasteurised sheep milk.  250g.
An unusual find: a washed-rind sheep’s cheese.  The flavoursome milk of the Lacaune breed of sheep produces an incredible cheese as St James breaks down, varying from soft with savoury, meaty flavours to firmer with a creamy, rich sweetness.

Westcombe Cheddar.  Unpasteurised cows’ milk.  250g.
This clothbound Cheddar is made to a very traditional recipe in Somerset by the Calver family on their farm, it is a Cheddar that is buttery and smooth, with that special Cheddar tang.

Stichelton.  Unpasteurised cows’ milk.  500g.
Hand-ladled and made to a traditional recipe but with unpasteurised milk, Stichelton is creamy and nutty, with a rich yet gentle blue note.

Preceded at 17.30 by Food Scribes, Food Lives - Uncovering Food in British Library Manuscripts (separate booking required).

Patrick McGuigan is a freelance food journalist and cheese writer, who contributes to The Telegraph, The Financial Times, delicious and BBC Radio 4's The Food Programme. His first book, The Philosophy of Cheese, was published by the British Library in 2020. He hosts regular cheese talks and tastings, and is a senior judge at the World Cheese Awards. He also teaches Academy of Cheese courses at the School of Fine Food and virtually via the Online Cheese School. Patrick co-founded the British Cheese Weekender in 2020 - an online festival to support small cheesemakers during the coronavirus crisis, which was backed by HRH The Prince of Wales. He is partial to a slice of Kirkham's Lancashire.

Ned Palmer’s life as a cheesemonger began at Borough Market in the winter of 2000 when he ate a piece of cheese. Until that point Ned’s convoluted career path included degrees in philosophy, theatre, and psychology as well as librarianship, sound design, builder’s labouring and hospital portering. Since that moment, it’s been nothing but cheese. The inciting cheese was Trethowan’s Gorwydd Caerphilly whose maker Todd Trethowan, startled by Ned’s enthusiasm, got him a job at Neal’s Yard Dairy. Ned stayed there for seven years, working at the retail counter and in the cellars, washing, rubbing, patting and sometimes singing to the cheeses. In 2014 he set up the Cheese Tasting Company to bring proper cheese to the people, and when he is not eating or talking about cheese, Ned travels around Britain and the rest of Europe visiting cheesemakers and hearing their stories. Ned published his first book, A Cheesemonger’s History of the British Isles in October 2019, which was shortlisted for the André Simon, Fortnum and Mason’s and Guild of Food Writers prizes, and was a Sunday Times bestseller in 2020.

Harry West was born in the USA and has held research and teaching posts at Sweet Briar College in central Virginia, at the London School of Economics, the New School for Social Research in New York and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. He is currently Professor of Anthropology and lectures at the Department of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology at the University of Exeter where, among other things, he convenes the MA Food Studies. Harry’s research focuses on artisan foods and their place within the cultural economy, exploring how cheesemakers have preserved or transformed cheesemaking techniques while navigating a changing marketplace. Between 2005 and 2011 he conducted research with artisan cheese makers and cheese mongers in 13 countries including Turkey, Canada and the United States. He is particularly interested in how engagement with food—from making food, to sharing it and eating it—affords opportunities for people to remember, including the acquisition of memories of things they have not themselves directly experienced.

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Name: The British Cheese Playlist
Where: British Library St Pancras
When: -
Price: Full Price: £5.00
Member: £5.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546