Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cradoc's savoury biscuits

I'm usually underwhelmed by ready made cheesy biscuits but I came across these at the Love Food spring festival in Bristol earlier today and thought they were delicious.

The range has been created by Allie Thomas of Brecon and includes flavour combinations like Stilton and Cranberry and Pear and Earl Grey I wouldn't generally go for. But the flavours are so natural and the texture of the biscuits so perfectly crisp that I ended up buying four packets. Other flavours include Leek and Caerphilly and Perl Las and Walnut. They'd be great to put out with drinks.

There's also an Italian style flatbread flavoured with rosemary that would look lovely on a cheeseboard.

Apparently Allie is on the way to getting some Bristol delis to stock them but in the meantime you can buy them at various Welsh farmers' markets. Contact her on 01874 624339 or through her Facebook page.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Cheesemaker of Auld Lochnagar

This last weekend I was at the Cheese & Wine Festival on London's Southbank, giving a talk on cheese and wine matching with Rhuaridh Buchanan of Paxton & Whitfield.

One of the cheeses we tasted was a cheddar-style cheese called Auld Lochnagar and Rhuaridh had brought the impressively kilted cheesemaker, Alex Reid of Cambus O'May (above) along to his stand.

It turned out that he had been in the oil business but had decided to revive the family cheesemaking tradition with a recipe from his grandmother that hadn't been used since the 70s.

His principle cheese is an unpasteurised cheddar-style cheese called Cambus O'May which is made from the curds from an evening and morning milking in the old farmhouse style. You can just about see the variation in the colour, below.

It's clean, mellow and well-balanced - not as sharp as a cheddar but with a real depth of flavour.

The deep orange Auld Lochnagar, which is coloured with annato (see back of the main picture), is aged for longer and has more 'bite' though again not as pronounced as a mature farmhouse cheddar. It's therefore rather kinder to wine - I paired it successfully with an organic Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon from Vintage Roots - and, according to Alex, a good match for a Speyside whisky!

The creamery is based in Ballater on Royal Deeside and the cheeses are widely stocked throughout Scotland. You can also buy them online from the Virtual Farmers' Market as well as at Paxton & Whitfield.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Coolea for St Patrick's Day

Having covered Welsh cheeses a couple of weeks ago I should in fairness make mention of Irish ones which are if anything even finer.

If you're out shopping for them today you might like to look at a couple of back posts on Irish cheeses - here and here on St Gall.

Today though I wanted to flag up Coolea (pronounced Coolay), an underrated pasteurised cows' milk cheese in an underrated style, mature Gouda. Although, checking the slightly out of date website, it did win the best matured Gouda category in the World Cheese Awards. You can see it above going through the brining process.

It's not perhaps as flashy as more fashionable cheeses such as Cashel Blue and Adrahan but I've always found it deliciously rich and nutty. A great nibbling cheese.

You can buy it in London from Neal's Yard. For other stockists see their website.

Incidentally I'm going to be at the Cheese and Wine Festival in the Southbank centre square at 3pm this coming Saturday talking about cheese and wine pairing with Ruaridh Buchanan of Paxton & Whitfield with wines from organic supplier Vintage Roots both also exhibiting at the show.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Welsh cheeses for St David's Day

I meant to post this over the weekend however I'm just about still in time to pass on the info that there are some tutored tastings of Welsh cheese in the John Lewis food hall in Oxford Street later today - one at 5.15pm, one at 6.15 and one at 7.15. You're supposed to book ahead but I can't imagine they'll turn you away if there are places.

They also sent me a selection of Welsh cheeses to try and I was quite chuffed that I'd tried - and written about - all except two. They included Golden Cenarth, an award-winning washed rind cheese, Gorwydd Caerphilly, Hafod cheddar and Perl Las (above left) a salty, creamy blue cheese quite similar to Gorgonzola I only found out about recently.

The only ones I wasn't familiar with were Perl Wen (top right), a Brie-type cheese also made by Caws Cenarth and a block Pembrokeshire Extra Mature Cheddar (above, right). I'm inclined to be a bit sniffy about block cheddar but it was really quite mellow and appealing, more attractive to tell the truth than the Hafod which was tasting a bit rustic and cow-y, rather like Cantal which I've never been too keen on.

Anyway, point made. The Welsh do make some good artisanal cheeses as you'd expect given their terroir. Teifi is another one I like. And I'm sure you can find them at John Lewis over the next few days even if you miss today's sessions and tastings.

Incidentally the oatcakes, in the top pic, were rather nice too. And also Welsh but I can't tell you what they are as my husband has scoffed them and thrown away the packet.