Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Five different ages of Parmigiano Reggiano in five different textures

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Parma was a visit to Massimo Bottura's Osteria Francescana in Modena, a restaurant which was recently voted sixth best in the world.

The dish I was most intrigued to taste was one called Five different ages of Parmigiano Reggiano in five different textures. It consisted of a soufflé of 24 month old parmesan, a crisp galette (40 months), an 'air' made, I discovered from his recipe from the crusts of 40 month old Parmigiano Reggiano and grated 50 month old, a foam made from 30 month old parmesan and a rich creamy sauce made with a 36 month old cheese.

Intriguingly it came about a third of the way through the meal rather than at the end like a cheese course. (I'm not sure I wouldn't have preferred it later on.)

It was brilliantly clever, beautiful and absolutely delicious but do you know what? I'm not sure I don't prefer my parmigiano served simply as they do here (at La Greppia in Parma).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Golden Cenarth: Britain's best organic cheese

One of the best food events of the year is the Organic Food Festival in my home town of Bristol which this year is celebrating its tenth anniversary.

It's always interesting to see which products win the dairy section. For quite a few years now it seems to have been a dairy product like a yoghurt or a crème fraîche but this year it's a cheese, Caws Cenarth's Golden Cenarth.

It's a washed rind cheese with a gorgeous undulating orangey rind that looks quite like a Vacherin Mont d'Or. The taste is comparatively mild though - it's washed with cider and the sample I tried had obviously not been allowed to get over-pongy. In fact the one I bought and opened just now could have done with keeping another 10 days or so. But you could see that it has the potential to be spectacularly good.

Caws Cenarth who are based in West Wales not far from Swansea also make a salty blue, Perl Las and a smoked Caerphilly or Caerffili, one of the few smoked cheeses I've tasted that I've actually enjoyed. The cheesemaker is Carwyn Adams (below), grandson of the original farmers and cheesemakers Lizzie Wyn and Leisa Jones, although he started his career as an engineer.

Do you agree with the judges decision or have you tasted a better organic cheese?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Southbank Cheese and Wine Festival

I can't believe there's a cheese and wine festival in London next month and that I'm going to manage to miss it. And by just a matter of hours! I'll be in France, which is of course, a good place to be from a cheese point of view but not back till late on October 17th, the last day of the festival. (It starts on Friday 15th).

Anyway for those lucky bods among you who can make it, the theme this year is 'Produce of the World' which means there will be cheeses to taste and buy from France and Corsica, Holland, Italy, Sardinia and Sicily, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Austria and of course the UK and Ireland.

Highlights include demonstration of how to make cheese in 40 minutes from Leagram Dairy's Bob Kitching, a demo from BBC Masterchef winner Steven Wallis, who will be making a salad of Tallegio with pickled pumpkin, figs, hazelnuts, autumn leaves and truffled sourdough croutons (I'd go for that alone), a demo and book signing with Patricia Michelson of La Fromagerie and a . . er . . . gift wrapping demonstration with 'international gift wrapping expert' Arona Khan of whom I must confess I hadn't heard, not moving in international gift wrapping circles. I also like the sound of a 'mobile deli dedicated to Sicilian cheeses and wine'.

There's a lot more info on the website www.cheesewinefestival.com. The festival takes place at the Southbank Centre Square off Belvedere road behind the Festival Hall.