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...