Stilton is the best cheese in the world. I am not accepting any challenges on this – it just is. In his final book, Appetites, the late Anthony Bourdain wrote a section titled ‘Dessert.’ The first line of this single-page treatise on puddings said “Fuck dessert.” He went on that say that the perfect way to end a meal is with cheese:
“Not just any cheese will do. What I want after a good meal is that king of cheeses: Stilton. There may be better cheeses out there. Maybe. But I doubt it.”
Even the French concede that Stilton kicks the shit out of anything they produce. When a US-based foodie Twitter-head commented to me what she had found the ‘best cheese in the world,’ I was expecting to hear that she had read Bourdain’s book. Sadly, the had only gone and found Kerrygold Irish Cheddar in the local 7-Eleven. Did I judge her? Damn right I did,
Stilton appears to have come to fame in or around 1724 at the Bell Inn in the village of Stilton in Cambridgeshire, England. This general style of blue cheese had been produced in the area for a while, but the accessibility of the Bell Inn from London meant that people would be prepared to travel north of the capital to obtain the cheese of Stilton.
Nowadays, Stilton has a PDO designation, and unbelievably, the village of Stilton (and, indeed, the whole of Cambridgeshire) does not fall inside the PDO region. Instead, the only English counties allowed to produce and market Stilton are Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire. At the time of writing, only five creameries actually make Stilton, and only one of those is in Derbyshire.
Happily for The Nosey Chef, the cows I can see from my front room window in Whaley Bridge (GD Shuker & Sons’ Elnor Lane Farm) give all of their milk to the Cropwell Bishop creamery, which is one of the tiny number of Stilton producers. Nearby, the Hartington Creamery is the only facility making Stilton in the country of Derbyshire. I am able to receive deliveries to my front door, direct from the creamery.
One of the classic ways to cook with Stilton is to make a broccoli and Stilton soup. In this recipe, we add mushrooms for a lovely midday meal or a starter for a long Sunday lunch
Broccoli, mushroom and Stilton soup
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 knob of butter
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 1 stick of celery, sliced
- 1 leek, sliced
- 1 medium potato, peeled and diced
- 1L chicken stock
- 150g mushrooms, quartered
- 1 head of broccoli, broken into florets with the stalks chopped and reserved
- 150g Stilton, crumbled
- Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Melt the butter and oil in a a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Sauté the onions until soft. Add the carrot, leek, celery, potato and mushrooms, cover and sweat on low for 5 mins.
Add the broccoli stalks and the chicken stock, bring to a boil, and then simmer covered on low until all the vegetables are soft. Add the broccoli florets and cook for another 10 mins.
Pour the contents of the pan into a blender and whizz until smooth. Return the soup to the pan, bring to a simmer and season with pepper only. Add the Stilton, and then add enough salt to taste.
Serve immediately while the cheese still has some lumps left
We recommend adding salt after the cheese because Stilton is quite salty in its own right.