Red Leicester (Sparkenhoe)
Made in Leicestershire in central England, Sparkenhoe is a farmstead cheese produced by David and Jo Clarke, to a traditional recipe using the farm's raw cow's milk.
Milk from the previous day's milking is transferred from the parlor to the cheese room at 4:00AM each morning. Production includes the addition of animal rennet and (the natural vegetable coloring) annatto is mixed in to give the cheese its rich, orange color.
Curds are scalded and cut prior to being being milled and salted and put into molds. They are then pressed for 24 hours, turned and pressed for a further 24 hours, after which the new cheeses are bound in cloth, larded and matured for 4 ~ months in the store at 50°F.
The cheeses are a traditional shape, being made in large wheels of 22lbs. and 44lbs.
The texture of Sparkenhoe is firm and smooth and relatively high moisture, which is evenly distributed throughout the wheel.
Flavors are deep, full, pleasing and are balanced by a citrus tang that lingers through to the finish.
A beautifully balanced cheese that would be a great accompaniment to a brown ale.