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Alsop and Walker: our favourite artisan cheesemaker

As part of our 'olive loves small-scale producers' season, we talk to the folk at Alsop and Walker, an artisan cheesemaker based in East Sussex.

While searching for premises to open a specialist beef restaurant in London, Nic Walker and Arthur Alsop stumbled upon a dairy for sale in the Sussex countryside. They bought it and began making cheeses. Their experience and backgrounds are varied, including the meat trade, farming and Arthur’s apprenticeship as a chef under Albert Roux. All this, along with dedication proved to be the perfect mix to become award- winning cheesemakers.

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The pair are motivated by the challenge of building the ultimate cheeseboard from their own range of cheeses. Arthur wanted to ‘create a selection of cheese large enough to cover an entire cheeseboard, with soft, hard and blue cheeses’. They were keen for the range to include something for the whole family; milder varieties for children and stronger flavours to please the more developed palate.

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Nic and Arthur are proud of their range of unusual, creative and innovative cheeses. The Mayfield is unique, the first whole cheese in the UK with natural eyes in it similar to Swiss cheese, with a soft and fruity flavour. Arthur’s Spice Road has the addition of cumin and cloves, while Nic’s Kitchen, has cracked black pepper running through it. Then there’s Sussex Crumble with its textured natural rind and soft, smooth fire ashes. ‘The last cheese we developed was the creamy semi-soft cows milk cheese Lord London, in time for the Olympics.’ It also appeared on the cheeseboard at the Royal wedding breakfast at The Goring. A true champion cheese, it won a silver medal in the World Cheese Awards. Managing constantly changing maturing conditions and differences in the milk supply, which vary month-to-month depending on changes in the weather and different feeds, they find they’re learning all the time. There’ll always be slight variations in the taste and texture of the cheeses and this, they believe, is what really keeps them apart from mass producers. alsopandwalker.co.uk