Sunday, 30 October 2011

Adventures in cheese

Or, the forage for fromage, if you will! Sorry...bad pun.

Since starting Homage2Fromage, our monthly cheese club in Leeds, I have had to expand my cheese purchasing skills and seek out cheese shops and producers in the local area. This has been a whole load of fun although slightly difficult on my purse, as I can't resist buying some cheese in every shop.

I have however, found a veritable smorgasbord of fromageries, delis and local market stalls in and around Leeds who are as fanatical about great quality cheese, as, well, I am!

Anthony's cheese room is superb (and you can get 10% off now with a Homage2Fromage membership) and Millies Organic ( has a great range and sells cheese wedding cakes now with a lasered message on the top (also 10% off for members).

I love Salts ( deli as it has a fab selection of nibbles and I can spend a whole load of money there on cheese...and cakes! Yum.

I recently discovered Haleys and Clifford on Street Lane in Roundhay ( who sell the best bread on which you can smother lots of cheese...!

I've not been yet but heard good things about Cryer and Stott in on my list for a visit ( although Pickles and Potter ( source their cheese from them, if you want some regional cheese a little closer to Leeds city centre.

And, if you fancy a day trip to Salt Mills which is always worth a potter around, don't forget to visit Cheese and Chutney ( which I have visited, but it was on a bank holiday Monday and it was sadly closed. I will be back!

And, there are always great cheese stalls at the Leeds Farmer's market on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month. I found some real crackers there on my last visit, and Poachers have a stall.

I'll let you into a Poacher's secret. In November, you will be able to buy their Knuckle Duster cheddar. THE strongest cheddar I have ever tasted and is to.die.for. They make very small batches of it as its matured for longer so it's only available in the run up to Christmas. They don't sell it online (unless you ring them) and even on their stalls, you may have to ask. It's a very cheesy secret and rightly so. I can't believe I've just told you about it!! I hope they don't run out!!

That's it for now, but do let me know if you visit other cheese shops in and around the Leeds area which I have missed off. I will pay them a visit.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Homage2Fromage has landed!

It's been a busy old couple of weeks. Nick, my Homage2Fromage partner, and I have been madly rushing around organising our first ever cheese club event which we held at Millies in Leeds on Thursday. 

What started as a random conversation on Twitter about doing something cheesy in Leeds, is now a reality and resulted in 20 fellow cheese fanatics coming to Millies on a rainy Thursday night to eat cheddar. It was a great night and we can't wait to do it all again in November. 

Our aim is to theme each event with a type of cheese and invite special guests who know much more about cheese than either of us to inform, educate and tickle our fromage fancies. It's going to be brilliant. 

First up was cheddar, a classic and the most popular cheese in Britain. It is often dismissed as an everyday cheese and not worthy of much attention. But, it is a complex little beast and well worth exploring. 

We chose five very different cheddars to taste on the night. Everyone got to taste them and decide which one they liked the most. It's important to consider "mouthfeel" as well as texture, flavour, appearance but in reality, we just scoffed them all. I was very proud that the clear favourite was also mine, Little Black Bomber from Snowdonia Cheese Company. It's a cracker and a half! The details of all the cheddars we sampled are below. There is one that was a cheddar imposter...the Poacher is a mix between a West Country cheddar and an Alpine cheese, like Comte. It's still delicious though. 

And, to our special guest for our first ever club. We were very lucky to get Alex James to come and talk to us about his new range of cheese Alex James Presents which is on-sale at Asda. He was doing a store tour in the area so popped in to chat to us and try out some of his top secret cheeses he's working on. Lucky us! 

He talked to us about the history of cheese - did you know they found cheese in Tutankhamen’s tomb - And his ongoing obsession with everything cheesy. He truly is obsessed...brilliant!

We tried Tomato Ketchup Blankets on some more-ish cheese on toast and watched in awe as he poured melted Spudsworth onto a jacket potato from a great height. The room was literally in silence as the cheese cascaded deliciously onto the plate and floor...I don't care what anyone says, that was orgasmic in my eyes!

He also let us sample some of his more artisan cheese offerings with Blue Monday drizzled with honey and a  gouda like cheese he just had delivered. It was awesome. I'm convinced he picks up cheese and carries it in his pockets, like a cheesy kleptomaniac.

We really enjoyed hosting the night and I've got so many ideas of what we can do next. Thank you to everyone who came, I met some truly brilliant people and I was so buzzed up to find people who love cheese as much as I do. Thank you to Natalie and Sam at Millies too who allowed us take over their shop as well as providing some delicious wine. Absolute stars! 

Watch this space for news on the next Homage2Fromage cheese club.  

These are the cheddars we sampled on the night with some tasting notes.

1. Snowdonia Cheese Company  - Little Black Bomber
Award-winning Extra Mature cheddar made in Rhyl Snowdonia North Wales. 80 Dairy Farmers from Snowdonia joined forces with a local World Renowned Creamery to produce Snowdonia Cheese.  

Creamy & Smooth this Extra Mature Cheddar, has a unique texture and taste
A moist, smooth texture but an intense vintage cheddary taste.  

2. Lincolnshire Poacher
Award-winning handmade cheese made by Simon and Tim Jones on their dairy farm on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds. They use fresh unpasteurised milk from their own 230 head of Holstein dairy cows. 
Similar to mature cheddar-style cheese – it’s a cross between a traditional West Country Cheddar and a Swiss or French alpine mountain cheese such as a Comte. It exhibits the qualities of being sweet and fruity but also having rich meaty tones. It generally has a smooth, clean, nutty, long finish.

3. Asda Extra Special Orkney Mature Coloured Cheddar
This cheese was re-launched in September this 2010. It is made Britain’s most northerly creamery in Kirkwall, Scotland.

Orkney Cheddar has a close texture. It is not open or crumbly like most mature cheddars. It has a smooth buttery texture and mellow flavour.

4.Alex James’ Best Ever Cheddar

Alex James left Britpop band Blur behind 10 years ago and immerse himself in cheese. He recently launched a range of everyday cheese called Alex James Presents which includes unique flavour combinations including Tikka Masala, Tomato Ketchup and Spring Onion. As well as Blankets, bread-shaped cheese slices perfect for melting on toast, and Spudsworth which can be melted in the microwave and poured onto jacket potatoes.

5. Y Fenni Cheddar with Ale and Mustard
Y Fenni is a variety of Welsh cheese consisting of cheddar mixed with mustard seed and ale.
It takes its name from the Welsh language name of Abergavenny in Monmouthshire South east Wales.

Made with pasteurised cow’s milk and vegetarian rennet it is mixed with Welsh ale and mustard grains and then wrapped in a red wax seal. It’s aged for 3 months.
A creamy and almost buttery taste the mustard grains add a lovely warm tanginess to piece of mature cheddar cheese