I discovered Yorkshire Blue all thanks to Barbara. I went into the local Sainsbury’s where I’m staying up here (Yorkshire Moors) for a brief summer break and asked at the deli counter if they could recommend an interesting cheese.

Barbara, who was manning the counter, couldn’t have been more interesting, knowledgeable, passionate and enthusiastic. I was intrigued by a cheese named ‘Blue Monday’ and Barbara told me all about the Shepherds Purse cheesery.


About the Shepherds Purse cheesery

She explained that Shepherds Purse was originally the idea of Judy Bell, a qualified pharmacist who’d married a local farmer. She became interested in the increasing incidence of allergies to cows’ milk and decided to experiment with making cheese from sheeps’ milk, one of the first in Britain (of course they’ve been doing it in Sardinia for millennia).


Yorkshire Blue, Harrogate Blue, and Blue Monday… all made by hand

Subsequently the cows’ milk, Yorkshire Blue was launched…. several other cheeses, including Harrogate Blue… with the latest of a line being the Blue Monday, a cheese developed in conjunction with ex-Blur bassist Alex James.

Barbara, and her colleague Jackie had both won a competition, and the prize was a visit to the cheesery. They’d both been impressed by the fact that although all three cheeses mentioned above had won the Sainsbury’s order, everything at the cheesery was still done by hand.


How to store cheese – in foil, NOT plastic

And Barbara also gave me a useful tip that she’d learnt on her visit – Judy told us not to store the cheese in plastic – it can’t breathe in plastic – wrap it in foil instead, like all the Shepherds Purse cheeses are.


Best all rounder cheese

They offered me a taste of all three cheeses – the Yorkshire Blue, the Harrogate Blue and the Blue Monday. Tough choice, but particularly as an all-rounder cheese (eat on its own in your fingers, cook with it, on a cheeseboard)  the Yorkshire blue came out tops for me, and that was Barbara and Jackie’s verdict as well.



But what was truly stunning was the knowledge and enthusiasm offered at an ordinary Sainsbury’s deli.


Barbara also gave me the inspired idea for topping a whisky-marinated steak with Yorkshire Blue – but that is the subject of a post all of its own.