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The life of an affineur; we get to know Nick Birchall.


We wanted to introduce you to a close colleague of ours, Nick Birchall of Cheese Shop Nantwich. We’ve been working with Nick since we first opened two and a half years ago, coincidentally, when he also opened his shop too.


As soon as the lockdowns were over, we plotted a few cheese and wine tastings in their tasting room, with one occurring monthly ever since. We’re working closer with Nick and his cheese shop than ever before, supplying them with a fine selection of bottles and hosting bespoke wine and cheese masterclasses, learning lots about cheese, and eating lots in the process!


For those local supporters of Cépage who haven’t had the chance to meet Nick yet or attend one of our tastings, we thought it would be great to ask him about himself, and the shop.



 

Tell us your story Nick - how did you come to end up owning Cheese Shop Nantwich?

Growing up as the son of a dairy farmer I never wanted to be a farmer and perhaps cheese was furthest from my mind although I’ve always loved it and it’s in my DNA as my grandparents were champion Cheshire Cheese makers in the early 1900s. I always wanted to be an auctioneer which I eventually did but somehow I ended up working for Paxton and Whitfield, the Royal cheesemongers and about 6 years ago my partner and I thought that we would open our own cheese shop. When lockdown struck we were both on furlough and thought that spare time then it would be best used into looking for premises and finally locating a shop where we could open our own cheese shop which we did in Nantwich, the home of cheese and Cheshire Cheese in particular


What’s the ethos behind the Cheese Shop Nantwich?

To offer the finest of artisan cheeses from the Uk and the world plus accompanying cheese biscuits, chutneys and relishes , cheese accompaniments and wines


What advice would you give to somebody just getting into cheese? What types of cheese should they be trying first, how much cheese to purchase, etc?

Try, try and try again ! Ask your cheese monger for tastes of the cheeses and explain to them what your likes and dislikes are. What perhaps you’ll be drinking along with the cheese and never be frightened of blue cheeses or the unknown!


Have you ever thought about becoming a cheese maker yourself?

I have indeed but time is not on my side and my patience levels are pretty much zero plus I loath the smell of milk warming


British, French or Italian Cheeses?

British all the way ! As the son of a British dairy farmer I would have to say that but my second place winner would have to be Italian especially those amazing Pecorinos and Parmesans



What are your top 3 cheeses, and why?

Traditional cloth bound Cheshire Cheese as it’s a taste of home for me. I grew up on the stuff, my grandparents and great grandparents were champion Cheshire Cheese makers and also is one if not the oldest recorded cheeses in the world

Manchego. A delicious ewes milk cheese which I love due to its richness and nutty taste

Stilton, especially Colston Basset Stilton which in my mind is the creamiest and tastiest blue cheese certainly in this country. It never fails to disappoint me and I love it !


Are there any cheeses that you particularly dislike?

Stinking Bishop..I hate it with a passion and any flavoured and blended cheeses eg Wensleydale with Cranberries! Other than that I love all cheeses


Can you, or should you, eat the rind of your cheese?

It’s all a matter of taste but eating the rinds will do you no harm at all unless the cheese is a wax bound cheese


How would you compile the perfect cheese board?

Always opt for an odd number of cheeses on your cheeseboard and always either choose your favourites or chooses cheeses that will accompany the previous courses and wines that you have been drinking. My “go to “ cheeseboard would alway contain a hard, a blue and a soft cheese and maybe a couple of other wildcard cheeses, eg a goats cheese and a sheeps milk cheese. Always a few grapes to accompany the cheese and maybe some Membrillo too


What types of wine do you enjoy, either on their own or with cheese?

I love all wines…some more than others but my go to wine would be a full bodied red that struggles to leave the glass or a very nice champagne


Lastly - the all important - what’s the best cheese for cheese on toast?!

Crumbly Lancashire works amazingly well for cheese on toast but as too does a Caerphilly with a dash of whole grain mustard thrown into the mix before toasting



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