Have you tried Tottenham’s hidden culinary highlight - its cheese?
- Credit: Courtesy of Wildes Cheese
With much of the food In London sourced from all over the world, the artisan food makers right on our doorstep are sometimes overlooked.
When you think of food in Tottenham it’s likely to be a match-day hotdog or a meal at one of the many eateries serving international cuisines - from Turkish restaurants on Green Lanes to the many Ghanaian cafes, or the Latin American market at Seven Sisters.
But one of Tottenham’s hidden culinary highlights is found in the form of cheese. On a small industrial estate near White Hart Lane, award-winning artisan cheese-maker Wildes produces more than half a dozen different types of cheese year round.
These range from the sharp and crumbly Napier (past winner of Best Cheese at the Mayor of London’s Urban Food Awards) to the ripe and unctuous Londonshire. All are made to their own recipes using milk, vegetarian rennet, salt and skill.
Wildes source their milk from Northiam Dairy in Rye, East Sussex. Pastures and dairies were a part of many London neighbourhoods until about 150 years ago, but the cost of ground-rent and the scarcity of land mean there are only a few city farms close to the city centre, and some 30,000 allotments squeezed onto mainly brownfield sites.
Northiam’s cows are grass-fed and free to graze the rolling Sussex fields 365 days a year, depending on the weather. They are also given minimal antibiotics and calves are kept with their mothers for longer than on many farms.
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Driven up during the early hours of the morning, once the milk arrives from Sussex, everything else is done on site. First, a starter culture is added to make the milk acidify and ripen, then rennet is introduced to make the proteins form into solid curd. Next they cut the curd (the size depends on the cheese they want to make), drain the whey, salt the cheese, shape it and press it. After that it’s all about the length of maturation. There may also be other processes such as adding blue mould spores or rind-washing to create different types of cheese.
Owner and head cheese-maker Philip Wilton was a management consultant in a previous life, but after being made redundant in 2012 he decided to turn his passion into a business. He is almost evangelical about cheese - he runs classes and workshops, and sells at many of the farmer’s markets. Their workshops are due to resume at the micro dairy in Tottenham and are highly recommend for anyone interested in how artisan cheeses are made.
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Julia Kirby-Smith is a trustee of the food charity Feedback and director of Fridge of Plenty in Crouch End.