Young Buck

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Young Buck cheese simply couldn't be omitted from this encyclopedia of the world's cheeses, and once you read the information we offer about it, you might decide it's essential for your pantry too.

Young Buck Cheese is a raw milk, blue cheese made in Newtownards, County Down, Northern Ireland by Mike Thomson, owner of Mike's Fancy Cheese. At first glance, Young Buck may seem like a traditional cheese, but Mike's story shows that it is very modern. He started out as a social worker before realizing it wasn't for him and taking a job at a delicatessen store in Belfast. It was while working there that he realized the shortage of local artisan cheeses was becoming apparent to him, so he went to England with the idea of creating one.

After a year of studying at the School of Artisan Food in Nottinghamshire (a neighbor of the Stichelton cheesemakers), he gained experience from some of the UK's top handmade cheese makers before becoming a head cheesemaker at Sparkenhoe Farm, making his three raw milk cheeses, including the famous Red Leicester. He returned to his native Northern Ireland determined to produce the country's first raw milk cheese that hadn't been seen for generations, but bank managers had other ideas and didn't support him, so he struggled to secure the necessary funding to start the cheese.

Mike eventually managed to obtain the necessary capital through an online crowdfunding site, with over 100 investors giving him 40% of his new business in return. Crowdfunding, also called crowdsourcing, collective financing, mass funding, popular finance, crowd finance, and collective microfinance, is the collective cooperation carried out by people who run a network to obtain money or other resources. The internet is generally used to fund efforts and initiatives of other individuals or organizations.

The company name, Mike's Fancy Cheese, was inspired by a 1896 nomination from James Long's cheese-making book, which described a man as a producer of "fantastic cheese" (aka fancy cheese in English). The development of his cheese processing facility took place in late 2013. Young Buck is made from a recipe similar to Stilton (with the obvious exception of raw milk). The milk is sourced from a single herd of Holstein Friesian cows from a local farmer and raised in the lush pastures of County Down.

Once the milk is added to the vat, cultures and rennet are added to achieve a curd firm enough to be cut, then hand ladled into plastic molds where it shelves for a few days. The outside of the young cheese is "rubbed" with a spatula to seal a small crack. The cheeses are pierced with needles to allow oxygen to enter and encourage the development of blue veins, while also starting to form a rind. Finally, the cheeses are sent to the aging room where they mature for three to four months.

The interior of the cheese has a delicious ivory paste with only a few veins of blue mold and a beautiful rind with patches of white dust. It is not the type of blue cheese that tingles your palate; rather, it is creamy and subtle, full of a gentle blue flavor, but also leaves the flavor of milk lingering, which is feared in a rich, fleshy, and persistent touch. It shares many aspects with Stichelton, which, in comparative terms of cheeses, is not a bad thing.

When at its optimal point, Young Buck can easily be crumbled over salads or mixed into fresh vegetable dishes, in which the creaminess of the cheese contrasts beautifully. Or, simply paired with fresh fruits (pears or apples) or jams. It is perfect for making a variation of blue cheese sauce. This remarkable cheese should definitely be reserved for the end of a cheese board, as its aftertaste lingers in the mouth long after the cheese is gone. It pairs wonderfully with sweet wines like Port or Sherry.

✓ United Kingdom