Cheese Profile: Cotswold

Sunday, June 13, 2010

-The underappreciated Cotswold. Also, I love this picture. It looks so 1970.-

Cotswold gets the shaft a lot of the time. It's the red-headed stepchild of the cheese world, acknowledged but only begrudgingly so. And that kinda pisses me off.

None of the great cheese books out there will ever list Cotswold off as a cheese you have to try, or would even deign to group it with other, often considered more remarkable cheeses like Seastack or Vacherin. To do so would be to many a cheese-snob a travesty.

Still, this popular cheese is well known and quite renowned. Practically every child, foodie, and housewife has tried this cheese at one time or another. Perhaps at a potluck or some party or work function. Indeed, my first taste was at an art gallery opening where I instantly fell in love and nearly demolished the entire Cotswold spread in under a minute. Only public decorum and the total embarrassment I suffered when a friend told me to "Slow the fuck down on the cheese," loud enough so that people stared at me did I actually stop.

And, I think, that's why it has developed such a low sense of value in the food world. It's too well known. There's no mystery. It hasn't been banned from import or export. There's no great legend or history behind it (it is, however, a very old English cheese from Gloucestershire County). It's been served in English pubs for as long as anyone can remember. It's tried and true with nothing surprising about it.

The food world needs to come back to this cheese with fresh eyes. Really experience it one on one. Not on a plate next to the cold cuts and celery sticks. Go out, buy some - you can find it at any store - and put it on a plate. Bring it to room temperature and sit in a quite corner where you and Cotswold can have a heart to heart.

-Chives make cheese better.-

The look is somewhat debonair, proper in its well color coordinated body. Inviting, rustic, and simple. Notice its aroma, it smells green and fresh like childhood games played in the yard. It isn't like one expects cheese to be, especially one flavored with chives, pungent and harsh. Rather, Cotswold is sort of welcoming and invites you to have a good, light beer as you eat it.

The texture, similar to a young Cheddar, it quite creamy even for a semi-firm cheese. After a moment or two in your mouth it begins to break down to your body temperature and melt apart. Grassy, smooth, garlicky and green due to the chives it possesses a very twee brightness; but it's that innocent flavor that belies a more prurient quality. It instills a dairy-lust where you'll go back to the fridge to snack again and again on this delightful cheese that you had before cast aside.

I've been reacquainting myself with Cotswold (I even love the name! Cotswold; so refined!) in cooking. Layered in a grilled cheese with garlic rubbed rye or sourdough and layered with a bit of fresh basil. Melted with a bit of leftover skirt steak into a sandwich. Freshly grated over mashed turnips. Its herbaceous and soft qualities make it perfect for pub and cafe food.


  1. Bring back the curly parsley garnish! ;P

  2. Garrett I am loving your cheese analysis and while I still can move to the blue, and pungent side I am willing to try more and more. I am wondering what your cheese tray would look like?

  3. Garrett- a job for you!

  4. I've never heard of this cheese...but it sounds like something I would love to try. I'll have to track some down. thanks

  5. Things like Chives and Basil I really have to be in the mood for or they turn me off of food, but I've never had a cheese that had chives in it! Usually my mains are Gouda, Mozzarella, and Dubliner, but I'll try to keep a look out for Cotswold and pick some up.

  6. My very first comment on your blog, which I love by the way - inspired by cheese. I LOOOVE Cotswald! My very British step-mother turned me on to it. It is tangy and tasty, and I actually appreciate that it is fairly readily available. Thanks for featuring!

  7. I just picked up this cheese at my co-op today, and literally laughed out loud when I saw your post about it. It really is a great cheese! Super yummy!!

  8. That looks so delicious! Speaking of delicious cheeses, I just finished a roasted garlic jack from the Loleta Cheese Factory on the NorCal coast.
    Wonderfully garlicky, great on crackers. The factory itself wasn't that interesting, as I've heard the Tillamook one is, but getting to sample a couple dozen cheeses was worth it. BYO palate cleansers. :)

  9. I picked up some Double Glouster cotswold with chive and onion after reading this post -- NOM! Thank you!

  10. I have had this post bookmarked since it was published as a reminder to TRY COTSWOLD. I've been looking and looking and JUST found it last week! So as part of my hurricane-preparedness shopping, I got me some Cotswold.

    WOW. Bright, arresting, addictive. I love having been introduced to this cheese. THANK YOU!


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