Friday, April 30, 2010

First Cheese School, now Cheese University!

Having recently set up Cheese School with cheesemonger and cheesemakers Trethowan's Dairy I was pleased to see you can also now go to Cheese University!

According to a newsletter from Sopexa, the body which promotes French food and wine, a new university diploma in 'Cheese and Heritage" has been created by l'Université François Rabelais de Tours and the Institut Européen d'Histoire et des Cultures de l'Alimentation.

Studies on the 10 month course curriculum apparently include "the history and geography of milk production and the cheese industry, anthropology and the consumption of cheeses and the sociology of food, marketing and sales. This gives graduates a practical knowledge of cheese through a multi-disciplinary training of all aspects of cheese-making and selling cheese including knowledge of terroirs, the social value of cheese consumption and handling world varieties" (Glad to know cheese consumption has social value. I feel that justifies my indulging in it as regularly as I do.)

The modules, which will be launched in September 2010, are being offered to students who have been in further education for 2 years, people working in cheese production, retail and catering and foreign students (which would make it sensible to have some foreign language versions of the website although there is an English pdf you can open.)

I suspect this is mainly designed for people working in multinational dairy companies rather than small artisanal enterprises though, encouragingly, they do have a couple of historians, a sociologist and an anthropologist on the staff.

Nearer home you can also take cheesemaking courses at the School of Artisan Food which offers an introduction to artisan cheese and more advanced courses on making different styles of cheese. I hope to make it to one later this year.

And - taking the opportunity for a quick plug - the next one day session of Cheese School is on Sunday June 13th at Bordeaux Quay in Bristol featuring Neal's Yard cheesemaker Charlie Westhead of Neal's Yard Creamery who makes the fabulous goats cheeses Dorstone, Ragstone and Perroche.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Androuet comes to London

I was wandering through Spitalfields market yesterday when I came across a smart-looking cheese shop - the first London outpost of the famous Parisien fromagerie Androuet. It's pretty small with a mixture of French and European cheeses, supplied by Androuet and English ones, sourced through Paxton and Whitfield with whom they appear to be in partnership.

There's a chic little wine and cheese bar at the back where they're already offering cheese plates and apparently plan to offer classic cheese dishes like raclette and fondue shortly.

I didn't have time to browse but managed to pick up a cheese I hadn't tasted: a delicious Swiss cheese called Bergblumenkase or Bergblume which I discover is rolled in alpine herbs. It's quite similar to a Gruyère in texture but much richer and fuller in flavour. I suspect it would go best with a crisp fruity white wine but it rubbed along fine with the modest Cabardes we were drinking last night.

I'll go back and try the hot dishes which I hope are better than those at L'Art du Fromage, the cheese-focussed restaurant I reviewed a few weeks back. It certainly looks a much more contemporary joint and has the virtue of being in a rather more accessible location.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cheese School update

It's only 3 days now till our first all day session of Cheese School and there suddenly seems a massive amount of work to do: buying ingredients, sourcing wines and beers and begging and borrowing a whole lot of artisanal products to use for our 'Amazing Tastes' session.

It's interesting how the day has evolved since we first had the idea. Originally we were going to have a cooking demo but we reckoned that what people really wanted to know was to learn more about cheese and how to use it so we've dropped that.

Instead we thought it would be fun to attempt a 3 course cheese lunch though that doesn't seem quite such a brilliant idea now when we add that to all of the other things we have to do! And when we think about how much cheese people are going to be eating anyway. (It's goats cheese, beetroot and walnut salad, macaroni cheese and upside down lemon and blueberry cheesecakes for those of you who are curious about how we're going to pull it off)

The concept of the Amazing Tastes session has also changed. Originally I was going to demonstrate some unconventional ways of putting cheeses and other ingredients together but we decided it would be much more interesting to have everyone doing their own thing so we're laying on a whole lot of cheeses, chutneys, fruits and nuts for people to get creative with.

The cheese pairing session will also be fun: we're going to get a local wine merchant Avery's and a brewer, the Bristol Beer Factory, to come along and each match 4 wines and 4 beers to 4 cheeses and see which come out tops.

And the morning sessions with the cheesemakers are going to give people a real chance to appreciate the difference in artisanal British cheeses. Todd Trethowan who makes Gorwydd Caerphilly is going to show how cheese changes as it ages and Sam Holden who makes Hafod is going to compare different cheddars.

I suspect by the end of the day we'll all be cheesed out but we can't wait!