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Great Brietain; Our cheeses give continentals a run for their money in taste test.

Byline: EXCLUSIVE BY STEVE MYALL

BLESSED are the cheesemakers - English producers are sweeping the board at cheese awards, consigning continental rivals to the back of the fridge.

Thanks to new techniques and a growing passion among makers, British cheese has moved beyond the classics of Cheddar and Stilton.

Yorkshire Fettle, a sheep's milk cheese like Greek speciality Feta - crafted by Shepherds Purse Creamery in Thirsk, North Yorks - picked up a gold medal at the Nantwich International Cheese Awards.

And Claxstone Blue, a British alternative to the mild French Saint Agur, beat its Gallic rival to be named Supreme Champion.

With British Cheese Week starting tomorrow, we armed 2013 MasterChef winner Natalie Coleman with a pack of Jacobs Crackers and asked her to blind taste our cheese board, guessing where each variety came from.

Natalie said: "The English smashed it, we're doing really well. My favourite was the blue cheese. I don't normally like that style but it was lovely."

Kirsty Grieve, Marks and Spencer cheese expert, said: "Britain produces an incredible array of styles, from a Sussex Halloumi made to a traditional recipe to my personal favourite, Bluemin White - deliciously creamy with a blue rind, made in Yorkshire.

"The quality is going from strength to strength thanks to the passion and expertise of artisan producers."

Last year exports of British cheese rose 7 per cent to an all-time high - and the biggest boost was in France.

That's really going to grate with the Frenchfeatures@sundaymirror.co.uk ENGLISH Laverstoke Park Farm Buffalo Mozzarella, PS2.55, Waitrose This is good - firm and creamy. I can imagine this with figs and prosciutto on a hot day. 8/10 Guess: Italian Sussex Halloumi, PS3, M&S Lots of lovely squeak on my teeth in this one. Very nice. Firm and would fry well I suspect. I'd eat this at home. 8/10 Guess: English Claxstone Blue, PS1.99, Waitrose and nationwide Creamy with a lovely mould flavour, some sweetness. I'd have it warm with grapes. 8/10 Guess: English Yorkshire Fettle, PS4.50, M&S Tasty, clotted cream taste. Not Feta as you'd recognise it, but good in its own right. 7/10 Guess: English Country Larder Organic Cornish Brie, PS2, nationwide A lovely creamy flavour.

Serve warm and runny like baked Camembert.

8/10 Guess: French EUROPEAN Garofalo Buffalo Mozzarella, PS3.85, Waitrose Soft and creamy, almost a burrata. Not the flavour of the other, needs salt to lift it. 6/10 Guess: English Greek Halloumi, PS3, M&S Spongy, too salty with not enough texture. It's just a lump. Like too much of the Halloumi you see.

6/10 Guess: Greek Saint Agur, PS2, Waitrose and nationwide Quite a strong aftertaste on the tongue, too much and you'd not taste anything else. 7/10 Guess: French Greek Feta, PS2.60, M&S Classic style. A good crumble, nice mild flavour and texture, perfect for a salad or to bake in pastry. 7/10 Guess: Greek President Brie, PS1.80, nationwide Quite a hard mould on this one. Not as nice, it feels a bit like an imitation of the real thing. 7/10 Guess: English

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This one's a cracker: Natalie on taste test

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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 31, 2015
Words:534
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