The buzz at the Bristol Wine and Food Fair, where I've been giving cheese and wine masterclasses for the past couple of days has all been about Cardo, a semi-soft washed rind goats cheese made by Mary Holbrook at Sleight's Farm in Somerset and on sale at the Trethowan's Dairy stand
It's a rare cheese, only made at certain times of year (now) and distinguished by two things: it's set by extract of cardoons, an artichoke-like plant, rather than by animal rennet and its rind is washed with water rather than brine.
Holbrook, who doesn't have a maturing room herself, delivers them up to Neal's Yard and they're matured in a room with other washed rind cheeses but not encouraged to develop their pungency. Basically it turns a bloomy-rinded cheese that would otherwise look like a Brie into one with a slightly crumbly greyish rind (rather than the sticky one you would get with a cheese like Stinking Bishop) and a flowing, gooey centre. The cardoon seems to give a particularly silky texture to the cheese together with a rich, sweet but not at all cloying flavour.
I managed to get a wedge but it was selling like hotcakes, even at the special Fair price of £35 a kilo. You can apparently buy it at the Neal's Yard shops in Borough Market and Covent Garden in London.