Sunday, 11 December 2011

We had a blue Christmas!

I really should update this blog more often. I have done a whole load of cheesy things recently too! Had a potter round cheese shops in London and almost locked myself in Whole Foods cheese room just so I could stay in there forever. Bought Raclette and Yarg from Paxtons...then went to the BBC Good Food Show (with work) and bought a mini frying pan into which I melted my Raclette. Wow! It was delicious but very pungent. 

Oh yes, Nick and I also organised and held our third Homage2Fromage cheese club...and it's Christmas! So, what better way to feel festive than to honour blue cheese for our event and make some stilton mince pies (which I've now claimed as my new invention) and drink port.

We held the event at Dock Street Market again and they baked us some wonderful blue cheese and walnut sour dough. We focused on five blue cheeses, all different, all blue and all delicious. 

Now, I'm actually not a fan of blue cheese. I don't mind it melted on or in food but not keen on it as cheese board cheese. But, that's why we started this learn and try new things - a little adventure in cheese and to have adventures, you need to do things you've not done before. So, I did a LOT of research into our five hero cheeses and also tried them all. I'm still not a fan of really strong blue cheese like Roquefort but the Stilton was lovely and creamy as was the Cambozola.

There is a trinity of blue cheese in Europe all of which have PDO status (protected designation of origin) and vie for the claim of being the king of blue cheese, these are Stilton in England, Roquefort France and Gorgonzola in Italy. These classic blue cheeses provide inspiration for some fantastic cheeses now developed across Europe including Yorkshire Blue, Cornish Blue, Swaledale Blue and Picos Blue

Here are some details of the cheeses we heroed and where you can buy them from. 

1.    Picos de Europa (Valdeon) Spain, Leon
Made in the Picos de Europa mountain range of eastern Spain by two brothers and their families - it is a cow’s milk blue cheese covered in maple leaves, with goat’s milk added at times of year when it is more readily available. The steep high peaks of this region are one of the most beautiful sites of Spanish geography
A rich, spicy and creamy cheese with well spread blue moulds and a tangy taste similar to Roquefort. Younger cheeses are more crumbly and less intense.
Available at Salts deli.

2.    Colston Bassett Stilton England, Nottinghamshire
Colston Basset was built in 1913, funded by a group of local milk producers and is one of the smallest Stilton dairies in the country.

Their Stilton is made in a traditional way with the curd hand-ladled before draining. This treats the curd more gently and preserves its structure, which results in a luscious, creamy texture when the cheeses are mature. It takes around 16 gallons of fresh milk to make just 16lb of Stilton cheese!
Well-marbled textured blue cheese using traditional rennet, with the rough pitted grey crust which needs daily brushing to keep the ‘cheese mite’ under control. This cheese is made with traditional rennet to produce a more nutty taste. Also by introducing the blue at a slightly later stage in order that the cheese itself can have a little kick-start in maturing before the veins thread their way through imparts a delightful spicy blue tang which is nutty and rich.
Available at Salts. 

3.    Yorkshire blue
Yorkshire Blue is made by Judy Bell and her family at the award-winning Shepherd’s Purse dairy. The cheese is made from 100% Yorkshire cow’s milk and is a mild, soft, creamy blue-veined cheese.
It is made to a traditional recipe developed from a continental style and it was the first cow’s milk blue cheese to be made in Yorkshire in the last 30 years. The cheese is matured gently over an eight-week period and each cheese is hand-turned every week to ensure the consistent blue-veining and creamy smooth texture.
It has won lots of awards including gold at last year’s World Cheese awards and silver at this year’s British Cheese awards.
Available at Cheese and Chutney, Salts Deli and Haley and Clifford.

4.    Asda Extra Special Fromageries Papillon Roquefort
This award-winning Roquefort is matured in cool cellars for up to six weeks giving it a full-bodied, slightly piquant flavour It is the taste of tradition, of a personality type whose secret lies for the most part in the origins of Penicillium Roqueforti.
The milk is first curdled then cut into very small cubes, according to the traditional cheese-making methods of the Roquefort Country.
Once moulded into form, the cheese is dried and salted. It is then placed on its side in the heart of the caves. Here the ‘fleurines’, which are veritable natural fault lines, link the caves to the fresh air. This allows a constant level of humidity. From this point on the Penicillium Roqueforti does its slow work and spreads its blue veins through the heart of the cheese.
Available at Asda but PDO Roquefort is also available at delis and cheese shops.  

5.    Cambozola blue brie
Cambozola is a cow's milk cheese that is a combination of a French soft-ripened triple cream cheese and Italian Gorgonzola. The cheese was invented in 1900 by a German company who still make it today.
It is made from the same blue penicillin mould used to make Gorgonzola, Rouquefort and Stilton with cream added to give it a rich creamy consistency but much milder than traditional blue cheeses.
The name is a blend of two words Camembert and Gorgonzola – Cambozola!
Available at Waitrose and other major supermarkets. 

 It was fantastic night, so thank you everyone who came and made it special. We really feel like we're creating something pretty cool with Homage2Fromage...who knew there would be so many other people who love cheese as much as we do!! 

Next month will be Alpine cheese...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Goaty Goodness

So, onto our second Homage2Fromage event. This time bigger, better, with more cheese and some tasty beers..what more could a cheese freak need?
We held this month's event at Dock Street Market and doubled the amount of tickets. Bit scary, but we had a total ball. I loved meeting everyone and making new fromage-friends. 

This month was goat's cheese. A somewhat polarising cheese, some love it, some hate it. In my job at a large supermarket chain, we have to consider carefully when we include goat's cheese in dishes as we know some people really dislike it. We have to mellow it out and choose cheeses with less acidity to leave the rich pureness of flavour without too much "goat" tang. 

Our aim for the event was to introduce a variety of goat's cheese types from hard and semi-soft cheeses right through to an almost liquid Yellison's Farm cheese. All very different, but all utterly scrumptious. 

Here are the five hero cheeses we nibbled on, sourced from a variety of delis and cheesemongers in and around the city, including a supermarket. I'm a big believer that good food isn't the premise of independent or small local shops. That big place we all do our weekly shop in has a vast array of fantastic quality cheese that should be celebrated.

  •   Swaledale Cheese Company – Goats cheese
This Yorkshire artisan cheese producer has been producing cheese for many years, and in the Swaledale area for many centuries. It is thought that cheese-making was first brought to the Yorkshire Dales in the 11th century by Cistercian monks who arrived from Normandy and settled in local abbeys. They passed on their cheese-making techniques to local farmers and Swaledale Cheese was born. 

The recipe of this delicious goat’s cheese is a family secret in the Longstaff family, who passed it down the generations and then in the 1980s to David and Mandy Reed. The Reed family still run the family business in Richmond, North Yorkshire and it has gone from strength to strength winning lots of awards.
Their cheese is made by hand using traditional methods and slowly matured for maximum flavour. The original cows and ewes milk Swaledale is the only Yorkshire cheese to have protected designation of origin (PDO) from the EU.

Available at Anthony’s, Millies, Haley and Clifford and Waitrose.

  • Smoked Ribblesdale Goat cheese
Ribblesdale Cheese company is made up of three cheese-makers (Lydia, Stuart and Iona) in Hawes, North Yorkshire who specialise in goat cheese from a single herd. They make everything by hand and in a long slow traditional way. They have their own smoker, an Afos, in which they gently smoke their cheese.

The Smoked Ribblesdale cheese has a silky texture and is very lightly smoked over oak so that the flavour of the cheese isn’t overwhelmed by the smoking process.

Available at Millies and Haley and Clifford.

  • Drunken Goat Cheese or Murcia Al Vino
This is a sweet, creamy goat’s cheese made in the Murcia region of Spain.
The drunken aspect of the cheese is the purple rind that is the result of soaking the cured cheese in red wine.

Made using the pasteurised milk from local Murciana goats in the town of Jumilla, Spain, the wine it is soaked in is called Doble Pasta which is a richer, more heavy wine due to its double fermentation process. The cheese is aged for two and a half months and has a semi-soft texture.

Available at Morrisons and Salts.

  • Chevre log
This is a classic French goat’s cheese made in the Loire region and has a dense texture with a bloomy rind. Made from fresh, pasteurised goat’s milk, the cheese ripens towards its use by date and the initially firm heart becomes softer and creamier from the rind inwards. As it does so the flavour develops gently to a clear, medium goat level and the texture softens.
It is fresh and moist with a slightly sharp and subtly acidic flavour. Perfect for the cheese board but wonderful cooked.

Available at Millies and Haley and Clifford

  • Yellison’s Farm “Crowdie”
Another great Yorkshire goat’s cheese producer - based in Carleton Craven near Skipton North Yorkshire. They have won a tonne of awards and their cheese is used by top chefs and restaurants.
They use milk from their own herd of goats and it travels all of 15 metres to get to their dairy. It is then handmade into a range of creamy goat’s cheeses.

They produce this delicious spreadable goat’s cheese called Crowdie.

Here are Leigh's beer and Cheese Matching Tips

Beer and Cheese are such naturally good bedfellows, that there isn’t a definitive guide out there. There are countless combinations for you to discover; here’s a quick beginner’s guide to illustrate which styles work well together. 

Even better (and more fun) is matching locality – pairing Yorkshire Beers and Cheese, for example.

Stouts and Porters are full of chocolate and roast malt flavours – so you’ll be looking for something creamy and sweet to pair up with. Ricotta is excellent with Stouts, as are lighter Goat’s Cheeses. 

IPA (India Pale Ale) is usually strong, big in flavour and with a bitter, high citrus kick. Therefore, they can fend of flavours in aggressive, briny cheeses such as Stilton, Aged Blues, or Blue Gorgonzola.  Stronger Belgian Golden Ales such as Duvel also work wonders with Blue cheeses – especially the creamier ones. 

Bitters and ESB (Extra Special Bitters), Marzen and Brown Ales are Cheddar and Wensleydale’s best friend. Any creamy, crisp and full-bodied cheddar such as Wensleydale’s Abbot’s Choice will do well with these beers. You could also go for any firm, continental mid-palate Cheeses such as Swiss Cheeses and Manchego. 

Wheat Beers and Pale Ales have a lot of fruity flavours and smooth textures happening, so paired with salty Feta or stronger Goat’s Cheese you get a nice balance. 

Pilsners and Lagers are smooth and flinty, so smooth, creamy cheeses like Brie and light, white Cheddars will be a good place to start here.  A particular favourite of mine is Grilled Halloumi and Pilsner.
Finally, Fruit beers will work with any sweetish cheese such as ones with fruit in (apricot/raspberry) and Mascarpone. 

Bit of a long post, but loads of cheesy beery info for you all to digest. 

 Until next time, when we'll be doing blue cheese!