Desert Island Cheese with Martin Gott
We have been long admirers of Martin Gott from St.James cheese fame - this is a washed rind sheep’s milk cheese, very seasonal leaving us begging for it half the year. He has also added two new hard cheeses to his portfolio and as you’de expect are exceptional !
We chat to Martin about his rise in the cheese world and talk to him about his desert island cheese .
How do you best describe the wonder that is St James?
It’s a product of ongoing dialogue between us and our customers, it’s a Cheesemonger’s cheese that’s been constantly evolving over the last 15 years as our understanding of our farming and cheese making has evolved.
What is 'Natural Cheese Making' and how does it relate to what you make?
It’s a term that I think means different things to different people, but I think it comes out of this idea of terroir in that you want something to have typicity and tastes of a place, and to do that you need to use the raw ingredients you have with minimum intervention, so your not crowding out the flavours and qualities of what you started with in favour of something more consistent or appeasing. For us it’s been a way to engage better with what’s going on in our milk and on the farm.
What is the most important thing you learnt from Mary Holbrook?
To be your own person I think, and that it’s a positive thing to follow your own interests and see where it leads.
Looking to the future of dairy farming and cheese making, what have we got to look forward to?
I think the current interest in micro dairy and regenerative farming is really positive, I struggle to see how that’s going to develop in the UK with the current political landscape, but I think as examples start to break through and be viewed as ‘successful’ we’ll see more momentum build and more people looking to develop these models.
What are the greatest threats and challenges that you think the dairy industry faces in the coming years?
I think the Artisan cheese industry faces constant threat from over regulation and badly designed changes to policy. I think there’s some threats coming from the demise of traditional export markets (specifically the US and Europe) that helped to sustain some of our more iconic cheeses and cheesemakers. We need to resolve issues over land ownership in the UK otherwise we’re going to see ever more increased, access to land is cited as the number one barrier to entry for the new farmers I speak to that want to produce food in a more sustainable way. It also holds back those micro producers that are successful and want to grow and who could benefit from a little more scale, but who could also provide proof of concept to inspire others.
Finally.....What would your desert island cheese board consist of? No limits on numbers and you can assume there will be a suitable cave to store your cheese.
A cow some sheep and a goat? I’d be happiest to be making and experimenting and building my own store full of variety with milk from my desert island. I’d have to take some of those really big cheeses that you just can’t make on a small scale or you need to be an expert to age (ie not possible with my one desert Island cow..) parmigiana, Westcombe cheddar, Stichelton, but I’d also want some of those really beautiful mountain cheeses stashed away, ossua Iraty, L’etivaz, Gran Jura, Beaufort. I’d have another stash with Stonebeck Wensleydale, St nectaire, Salers tucked away for when I needed to taste someone else’s desert island.