Our new feature "Talking Cheese" starts with an interview with Claire Milner from the Old Cheese Shop in Hartington, Derbyshire.
Hi Claire, thanks for agreeing to talk to The Mighty Cheeseboard, how long have you been running the Old Cheese Shop in Hartington for?
Exactly 3 years. We bought the shop at auction when Long Clawson shut their dairy in the village. The shop had been their factory outlet and has been established for over 30 years.
What made you decide to make the leap from cheese fan to cheese shop owner?Love cheese - what more can I say! And we couldn't see such a fabulous little shop close. It has such a history to it.
What Cheeses are your biggest sellers in the shop?Definitely all the blue cheeses. We sell tonnes and tonnes of stilton.
What would you put as your own personal favourites?Again blue cheeses but you can't beat a good extra mature cheddar either. Quickes is up there amongst the best!
I notice that aswell as running the cheese shop you are also involved with making cheese as part of the creamery - how did that come about & are you enjoying getting involved and the process of cheese making?Two ex employees from Long Clawsons (who are well known in the stilton industry) approached us in the shop to ask if we would sell their cheese if they could get a factory up and running again in the village. We were so excited and keen to help that we joined forces with them. It has taken us a long time but finally we made our first cheeses in mid October. They will be ready soon which will be great for Derbyshire people as there is no real cheese making going on in the County on a large scale and we should hopefully be accredited to make Hartington Stilton again in the new year. We will then be the only stilton producer in Derbyshire and only the 6th stilton producer in the Country.To see the whole process from start to finish and actually be hands on has been a great learning curve and has only fuelled our passion more for cheese and everything it stands for!
What cheeses are you currently making? (We'd love to sample some for review sometime)Our first cheese will be a crumbly white cheese called Peakland White and for Christmas we will be doing a cranberry and orange version. The blue cheeses will start rolling out in January hopefully.
In a few words sum up what cheese means to you?Gosh that is a tough question. I am just so passionate about good quality food and sourcing (and now making) local cheeses it is hard to put it into a few words. I think PASSION is just the key to everything.
Thank you Claire.
So if you ever find yourself in Hartington or nearby - please make sure you make the effort to visit Claire at the Old Cheese Shop and get buying some of the fantastic cheeses that they offer. However if you cant get to Hartington then you can always visit thier website (www.hartingtoncheeseshop.co.uk) where you can purouse the cheeses from the comfort of your own home and order online, so there's no excuse - support the independent cheese makers and cheeseshops!!!