Besides being a star in Wallace & Gromit cartoons, Wensleydale has a great story. It’s made by a single creamery in Yorkshire, England that relies on a recipe from twelfth-century Cistercian monks. Production has been up and down over the years, but right now there are gorgeous wheels to be had, making this mild, toothsome cheese the Clothbound Must-Have of the moment.
Wensleydale is yogurty with a tender crumb. It is the baby’s breath of cheeses, so light and dainty you could serve it to newborns. It smells like cheesecake – lemony and lactic – and pairs beautifully with fruit. If you need a farewell-to-summer cheese, this is it. It’s bright as a blossom.
The British writer Patricia Michelson recommends splitting figs or plums and crumbling “the freshest possible” Wensleydale over top. I got carried away and added a drizzle of honey. Apples would be a lovely accompaniment, too, or you could plan a proper tea and serve Wensleydale with fig bread or oat scones.
I tend toward strong cheeses when given the choice, but Wensleydale has won me over with its cozy, mellow vibe. Wensleydale Creamery makes a variety of mass market cheeses, so just be sure to look for a wedge off the cloth-bound drum. A light red wine or medium-dry Madeira pairs well in the glass.