Sunday, October 25, 2009

A clever way to serve goats' cheese

I'm always so impressed when I find a restaurant doing something clever and interesting with cheese and this was a stellar cheese course at a small restaurant called Larcen in Agde on the Languedoc coast.

A small disc of goats cheese (pelardon) had been marinated in oil with a touch of dried chilli, a few crushed pink peppercorns and possibly a little garlic and was served in a small tumbler with its oil and a mini-baguette perched on top. There were also a few lightly dressed salad leaves alongside. Pretty and delicious and really all you want - or all I want - at the end of a meal.

Do you like cheese courses like this or do you prefer a 'proper' cheeseboard?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

New discovery: Winterdale Shaw

Finding a new English cheese is always a bit of a thrill especially when it has as resounding a name as Winterdale Shaw. I discovered it in that bastion of Britishness, Fortnum & Mason, whose trading director, Simon Burdess, was enthusing about it.

According to the Winterdale website it comes from a farm near Sevenoaks in Kent and is an unpasteurised, handmade, clothbound cheese similar to a cheddar. It's aged for around six months (I personally think it would benefit from being aged a bit longer) and is attractively rich, tangy and buttery.

Apparently it's been made since 2006 (so it's not that new) and has already picked up a couple of medals at the World Cheese Awards. Perfect for a ploughman's or a good old-fashioned macaroni cheese.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hafod (aka Glamorgan) sausages

Glamorgan sausages - for this is what they are - are not sausages at all but little sausage-shaped croquettes made of cheese. I remember making them years ago from a Delia recipe and as I had some leftover bread and a tail end of cheese to use up decided to give them a go. Delia may well have got the recipe from Jane Grigson's English Food because that is who Simon Hopkinson acknowledges in this version which is what I based my recipe on, using Hafod organic cheddar rather than the Caerphilly or Lancashire he suggests.

Serves 2-3
1/2 small onion or half a bunch of spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
150g grated Cheddar, Lancashire or Caerphilly (slightly less if using very strong cheddar)
100g fresh white breadcrumbs + about 25g extra for coating
2 large eggs
2 tbsp fresh parsley or a mixture of parsley and chives
1 level tsp English or Dijon mustard
salt and white pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
Tomato or apple chutney for serving.

Coarsely grate the onion, squeeze to get rid of the moisture and mix with the cheese and breadcrumbs. Separate the eggs and add the yolks, parsley (and chives if using) mustard and seasoning to the breadcrumb mix with just enough of the egg white to enable you to press the mixture together. Take dessertspoons of the mixture and form into small 'sausages' or croquettes.. Lightly whisk the remaining egg white, dip each 'sausage' into it and coat it in the remaining breadcrumbs.

Heat about a centimetre of oil in a frying pan and fry the sausages over a moderate heat, turning them until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with tomato or apple chutney.

* the proportions will rather depend on how dry/absorbent your breadcrumbs and cheese are. I actually used less cheese as I only had 110g but felt it would have benefited from at least 25g more so I've stuck to Simon's original quantity in the recipe.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Constructing a cheese menu

Just a final note on British Cheese Week: I've posted a few thoughts on a cheese menu that was served at one of London's most fashionable restaurants the Modern Pantry this week on my website (This was the starter, above - baked bee pollen crusted ricotta, pear, sorrel and lucques olive salad, manuka honey and lemon dressing)

My conclusion was that it's quite a difficult feat to pull off. Have any of you attempted or experienced one?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The rising stars of British cheese

Despite my strictures on the Great British Cheese Festival there was one stand-out event and that was organiser Juliet Harbutt’s talk and tasting on the ‘rising stars’ of British cheese. A number of them were ones I’d already discovered, some were new but as it's British Cheese Week I urge you all to track them down:

New Forest White
I wasn’t sure I liked this cheese - a soft goats’ cheese flavoured with honey - when I first tasted it. It grew on me but you’d have to treat it as a dessert cheese. I can imagine it being fabulous with figs and a sweet wine like Samos Muscat

Morangie Brie
My discovery of the day - an ultra-rich buttery Brie with more than a hint of mushrooms which picked up the award for Best Scottish Cheese. Made by the same cheesemaker who makes Strathdon Blue and Harbutt’s Blue Monday (below) - half a mile from the Glenmorangie distillery (hence the name)

An attractive Irish semi-soft Emmental-style cheese from Moon Shine Dairy Farm Co Galway that Harbutt described as tastiing of ‘fermented fruit’ (odd, but I know what she meant - it was a bit peary). Organic and biodynamic

Wyfe of Bath
Another semi soft cheese from Bath Soft Cheese, described by Harbutst as smellling like ‘cheese scones’ (an apt description) Pleasant but didn’t really do it for me.

A sheeps cheese from Sussex High Weald Dairy. I'm a big fan of sheeps’ cheese so this really rocked my boat. Lovely mellow, gentle sweetness but tangy and characterful too.

Stoney Cross
A tomme-style cheese from Lyburn Farmhouse Cheesemakers in Hampshire. Rich and creamy but with a nice, balancing acidity.

A new(ish) organic Welsh cheddar I’ve raved about on this blog before. Less complex (aka funky) than some of the best known artisanal cheddars such as Keens but more approachable. Lovely clean, crumbly texture - none of that ‘soapiness’ you get from block cheddars.

Blue Monday
Launched last year by Juliet and ex Blur guitarist Alex James this sexy-looking blue has the distinction of being sold in a square.More like a Gorgonzola than a Stilton in taste and texture - mellow and creamy.

This cheese, which is made by Joe Schneider on the Welbeck Estate, can’t be classified as Stilton because if’s unpasteurised but it’s Stilton in all but name. Already an oustanding British cheese, if not one of the best blues in the world.