Monday, March 26, 2012

Two 'drunken' cheeses

By chance I've come across two cheeses lately that are both matured with the by-products of red wine. The first, last week, was at Al Pompiere in Verona where I tried a Monte Veronese Ubriaco (above, front) a local hard cows' milk cheese that had been soaked in grape must, and which was served with a sweet red onion marmalade.

Then back home I came across a fantastic cheese called Testun (pronounced tess-toon) at Zucca in Bermondsey Street - a smooth, tangy cheese which is apparently wrapped in nebbiolo vine leaves. I think it must be similar to the Testun al Barolo which is described here on the US cheese retailer Artisanal although the rind didn't have the same craggy appearance.

What this type of ageing process seems to result in is a more pliable consistency and a deeper more savoury flavour than you would find in a conventionally matured cheese and one that gives it a greater compatibility with red wine (although this article by the San Francisco Chronicle's cheese writer Janet Fletcher, suggests the contrary).

Both come into the category of ubriaco or 'drunken' cheeses, a description I must say I rather like.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Two simple, stunning ways to serve mozzarella

Most people I would guess use mozzarella one of two ways - in the classic insalata tricolore with tomatoes and avocado or to top a pizza. But I came across two brilliant new ways of serving it this week which I thought I'd share.

One was at our local wine bar and restaurant Flinty Red where the chef Matthew Williamson had topped it with a sharp little salad of shredded cabbage, capers, lemon and fried roughly torn bread.

The other was at the legendary River Cafe in London where it came with smashed chickpeas, roast artichokes and Italian erbette (lightly cooked greens)

Both looked beautiful, I think you'll agree and in each case made a lovely fresh-tasting, easy to assemble starter. Both relied on top class ingredients including great olive oil and super-fresh bufala mozzarella.

You might think that would be hard to get hold of if you don't have a good cheese shop nearby but you can buy it direct from Italy online from sites such as

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Whisky and Cheese pairing

I've just posted a piece on my food and wine matching site on a whisky and cheese tasting I tried out at The Capital bar this week. Click here for more.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

La Tur - a gorgeous Italian cheese

We went out for dinner to friends last night and they served just one cheese - a gorgeous triple cream cheese called La Tur. It sounds French but in fact comes from the Langhe region of Piedmont - maybe why it went so well with the Dolcetto we were drinking.

According to this site belonging to Clarks Speciality Foods it's a mixture of pasteurized cows, sheep and goats milk and has a delicate, slightly lactic earthy flavour and the most wonderful creamy silky consistency as if it's about to melt. My friend actually bought it at Waitrose where it seems to be stocked in larger branches. A real find and at £4.95 - enough for six - quite a bargain.

Incidentally I like the sound of the Clarks Italian cheese selection which includes La Tur, a cave aged Tallegio, Gorgonzola Dulce, Ubriaco which is rubbed with red wine must and Basajo, a blue cheese that's soaked in sweet wine