This is one of the most popular cheeses from Zingerman's Creamery. It's a mold-ripened round that's easy to eat and enjoy.
Like all the cheeses from Zingerman's Creamery, the Manchester is made completely by hand using old-style artisan techniques. What makes it unique is its mold-ripening, a technique brought here from France two centuries ago. You'd recognize other cheeses that use it today—Camembert or brie, for example, though their molds are fluffier than Manchester's. Mold-ripening changes the cheese from the outside in, making it softer and richer as it ages. It's the best way to make really luscious cheeses, something you'll notice the minute a piece of Manchester hits your tongue.
Like other cheeses, Manchester is best served at room temperature, when its full flavor will come through. Because it's so soft, it will ooze a bit when it's warm. That's normal. Try it dusted with light muscovado sugar then baked into puff pastry and served warm for an excellent hors d'oeuvre. Or offer it up in wedges, topped with toasted almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts. It's excellent spread on ham sandwiches topped with caramelized onions (see the recipe below for our Hamchester sandwich).
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus a little bit more to grill the sandwiches
1/2 pound sweet Vidalia onion
4 ounces sliced good ham, like that from Niman Ranch
4 ounces Zingerman's Creamery Manchester round (sliced thin if it's cold, spread if it's warm)
4 slices of San Francisco Sourdough bread from Zingerman's Bakehouse
2 tablespoons chutney, optional
Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over moderate heat. Add the onions and sauté until golden (about 25 minutes). Remove from heat. Place a large nonstick skillet on the stove over medium high heat. Using a pastry brush, brush 1 side of 2 slices of bread with olive oil, and place oiled side down in skillet. Top each slice with 1 ounce of cheese, 1 ounce of ham, half of the onions, 1 ounce ham, and topped with 1 ounce of the cheese. Top each sandwich with another slice of bread brushed with the oil, oiled side up. Flip the sandwiches a few times until the cheese is melted and gooey and bread is toasty and golden.