Patriotic Godminster Cheddar

31 Jan

Glee for Godminster

So I got a voice mail message from the postman saying that he had had to leave a package for me in a secret hidden place just inside my gate as he couldn’t get into my house that morning (no-one ever answers the doorbell, or house phone for that matter…if it wasn’t for mobile phones we’d be a house of hermits).

For me, this was very exciting. I love getting parcels and the fact that it was hidden made it seem like a mid-January Easter egg hunt! DOUBLE FUN. When I found out that it was a cheese set sent over to me by my good friend Dora I think I may have ran around the house like a hyper squirrel trying to find people to tell them I’d just gotten a cheese delivery through the mail. It is a wondrous time we live in when cheese can be sent in the post. Imagine when you would have had to collect cheese via donkey and wagon. LAME.

It turned out that the set was none other than Godminster cheddar, a cheese that had already been recommended to me on multiple occasions. What made things EVEN BETTER was that the cheese was in the shape of a heart. This, to me, was just too good to be true. Hence the gleeful if not slightly insane expression in the above picture. This would be THE BEST VALENTINES DAY PRESENT EVER. Or, to be honest, a good present at any time of the year. Just buy people cheese, it’s a great commodity.

Somehow I managed to withhold my tasting of the cheddar until that night when I brought it with me to a dinner party. Note: this cheese is perfectly acceptable public transport cheese, one was covered in burgundy coloured wax and the other was in plastic and cloth. Wax and plastic both have super qualities of being odourless and preservative. Brava for them. Then I had to sit through a whole meal before it was time to wax off the cheddar.

I think my good friend Ellie described it best: ‘It’s like cheddar….but just better’. The heart cheddar was tangy, slightly sweet and creamy. The type of cheese that could be eaten on all occasions and yet still be a fighting contender on the late-night cheese board. It’s also so quintessentially British that I got images of Nelson eating it before battle against the French. Who wouldn’t love a little bit of cheese before war? 

Us British love our cheddar, according to the QI team in their book ‘The Second Book of General Ignorance’ Britain has overtook France in the variety of cheese they produce. However, over 60% of this ‘variety’ is cheddars. Perhaps a cheddar should be placed on the union jack? Or the Queen could sport a cheddar patterned hat? Or David Beckham could pose with a cheddar covering his manhood instead of those tiny pants?

The other cheese present in the pack was oak smoked cheddar. To me, this tasted like a Texan BBQ, like the cheese had been put in the coal pit and left to cook overnight with all the rest of the meat. HOWEVER, when my Dad tried it he stated (NO JOKE): ‘It tastes like the oak that made the ships from Britain’s best navies’. And VOILA, with that one line we had another patriotic British cheese.

Our cheese board...mmm

According to the British Cheese Board, cheddar is the most consumed cheese in all the world. It originated in Somerset in the late 12th century and got it’s name from the caves in the town of Cheddar where the cheese was left to mature (fact of the day for you there). Luckily for me, Godminster dairy farm is located in Somerset. Its cheeses therefore stand in line with cheddar’s historic roots. I do love a bit of authenticity in a patriotic British cheese. If you want to be a cheese history nerd like me and find out more about cheddar check out: http://www.britishcheese.com/cheddar

To order your loved ones cheese sets that come through the post and will make them super happy go to: http://www.godminster.com.

To listen to an extra patriotic British song whilst eating cheddar you could listen to ‘Rule Britannia’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zobt8ZoPtfE&feature=related

OR if you want to listen to a super awesome epic song that really makes you want to do something great like eat cheddar or save homeless children whilst riding on a unicorn into the sunset (maybe both at the same time?) listen to John Farnham’s ‘You’re the Voice’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbkOZTSvrHs&ob=av2n. He may be an Australian with a dodgy eighties haircut but I bet he still eats cheddar.

Petit Livarot – emphasis on the ‘rot’

27 Jan

Misty turns her nose away...

So last week my good friend Kate and I decided to get off our lazy bums and head out on a 40 minute bus ride to get to Borough Market in London Bridge (certain other friends were less adventurous and instead would not get out of their furry animal suits and remained on the couch, but let’s not name names). Let me tell you, it was worth the bus ride. It’s like a Disneyworld for food lovers. We also had THE BEST mulled cider there…in my humble opinion, it beat mulled wine hands down. If you are ever in London I do recommend a visit: www.boroughmarket.org.uk. It’s so famous it’s even got its own webpage AND Wikipedia page. DOUBLE FAME.

HOWEVER, this is a cheese blog and thus a cheese must be blogged about. Of course, when we got to Borough Market we headed straight to all the cheese stalls to see what gems we could get our hands on. Eventually, we decided to return to the first stall we looked at (TYPICAL), a stall full of French squishy fromages. A lot of decision making had to be done very quickly and there was so much oozage everywhere that my cheese addled brain was on overload. In the end we decided to get one I’d never tried before (ADVENTUROUS) and also one that looked like it wouldn’t leak all over my bag and force me to go to the extremes of bag licking later. Bag licking is never a proud moment.

This Petit Livarot is so authentically French that it was even sold to us by an overly flirtatious French man. Me, being my authentic British self (albeit with a transatlantic twang that allows me to get away with pretending I’m an American tourist) said ‘Hey can I have some of your Livarot please’, pronouncing the end syllable ‘rot’. The French man looked at me with an air of superiority before saying ‘You mean Livaro’ pronouncing the end syllable ‘row’. He then proceeded to tell me that my way of pronouncing the cheese meant that I loved him. I laughed politely before trying to switch my purchase with a Langres that he told me was excellent with a shot of champagne poured over it. He wouldn’t let me switch, that meanie. He did have lovely shoulder length brown hair though.

The point of this story is that my way of pronouncing the cheese was much more apt. It smells like rot. Unfortunately, it kind of tastes like rot too. When I put it in front of my cat, Misty, she sniffed it and then turned her back on it. According to Mighty Boosh, turning your back on something is a grave insult.

Wikipedia says that people often describe its taste as ‘like a barnyard’. Funnily enough, that was exactly my description also. When I tasted it I imagined that that was what licking a cows bum would be like. My dad said it tasted like cow wee. I just want to point out that our family has never actually tasted cow wee/dung. It’s just the closest description we could come up with.

On the other hand, my mum quite liked it. She said it tasted nutty. Obviously this is a Marmite cheese- you either love it or you hate it. Or you eat it anyway regardless of the fact you think it tastes sort of like mouldy cow hay. Whatever the verdict, this is definitely a hardened veteran of a cheese. It’s got protected status in the cheese world and won’t take any funny business. Also, once you’ve tasted it it’s going to stick with you. It leaves an after smell on fingers and a mouldy taste in the mouth. It’s sure of itself and strong enough to take its tasters varied opinions. It’s a Godfather cheese for sure- except it’s a French gangster rather than an Italian.

Perhaps a chutney could take the edge off. Funnily enough, this cheese knocked me from Dairy Queen status. There was no way I was having milk after this bad boy. I went straight to the fridge for a refreshing, fruity Ribena.

Finally, a word of warning: DON’T TAKE THIS CHEESE ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT. I had to take this cheese on a bus, a tube and a train. Considering my friend Flora assumed I was farting next to her whilst the cheese was on the table, it is safe to say that it’s a whiffer. In fact, even when I realised on the train home that my bag’s zipper was undone on the dirty laundry section and that I may have potentially lost my pants or socks somewhere along the train aisles, I refused to go back and check. There was no way I was going to be dirty laundry girl and then have added cheese pong to that embarrassment. NO SIREE BOB.

describing Livarot in one word...

This is what I think the cheese’s theme song would be:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPJM4czWkNw.

It’s got attitude and kind of hurts the ears, yet you still listen because you know there’s talent behind it. Plus Slash is topless..AND HAS GREAT HAIR.

‘La Tur’ de force!

23 Jan

If only my words could accurately portray this beautiful creation....

I felt it needed it's own close up...

I just want to apologise in advance for the obsessive and quite frankly creepy nature of this post. However, I would also like to point out that the creepier the post, the better the cheese: It’s just a fact.

I believe it was William Shakespeare who wrote ‘For I never saw true beauty till this night’ in his timeless play Romeo and Juliet. Well, this is Emma saying to ‘La Tur’ cheese that I have never tasted true cheese beauty until about a week ago when I first put my lips to this sensational Italian creation.

As with all great love stories  it began with admiration from afar. I first saw the cheese whilst wandering Waitrose when I was staying with my boyfriend in Formby. However, he scorned my want of it (obviously in a fit of jealousy) and dissuaded me from buying it. However, I just couldn’t get ‘La Tur’ out of my head and a couple of weeks later I again found myself in a Waitrose and decided that we had waited long enough. I was going to buy that cheese and I was going to eat it that very night.

The moment when my tongue hit the marvellous mousse that is ‘La Tur’ I felt my knees buckle and my eyes close in sheer delight. A vision of Greek gods feeding each other the cheese whilst sitting on clouds and wearing togas flashed right before my eyes. It had everything- oozy on the outside, mousse-like on the inside. Mild yet so flavourful. Savoury yet sweet. It was like a farm covered in milk and honey. It melted on your tongue. It was just… TRULY SCRUMPTIOUS. I use the past tense because I simply just could not put it down, I could not even contain myself to wait long enough to photograph this wonderfully whipped dairy delight. That is why I tried to no avail to cover the half-eaten side with the cheese’s sticker. I simply could not pry myself away.

Made from three different types of milk: cow, sheep and goat, it also follows the ‘equal opportunities’ code that is so important to our modern day society. It’s diverse and who can argue with diversity eh? It’s good to blend.

I recommend listening to ‘The Flower Duet’ whilst indulging in this heavenly taste sensation. For me, it just embodies everything I feel about the cheese in one song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Qx2lMaMsl8.

When cheese is not what it seems…

19 Jan

This cheese led me on

So I scoured Highgate village in London yesterday looking for a cheese to eat for brunch. Finally I came across a little shop called ‘Delicatessen and Other Delights’. I thought I’d hit the jackpot when I came across this cheeky cheese ‘Le Vieux Pané’ pictured to our left. It was orange and thus presumably coated in scrumptious moulds, it had a faint pong emanating through its packaging, all the blurb was in French (so you knew it was authentic) and BEST OF ALL it came in a wooden box.

There’s something traditional and promising about a wooden box- like the cheese was being made before plastic packaging hit big time and therefore it must be an old, time-honoured, perfected cheese. Wooden boxes are meant to contain hidden cheesy delights in their splintery jaws. They are meant to contain cheeses that cannot contain themselves because they are THAT oozy.

HOWEVER, when it came down to actually eating ‘Le Vieux Pané’ I was in for the shock of a lifetime. This cheese was not the stinky, oozing flavour sensation I had assumed it was, instead it was (SHOCK HORROR) relatively mild (for a French cheese) and, to make matters worse, it was more spongy than oozy. It tasted like a flattened, spongy, spray-tanned, medium priced Camembert.

Then I realised that I should never have been so naive and that if only I would have read the signs I would have never bigged up this cheese to an extent that eating it caused mild disappointment.

Sign number 1: The cheese is called ‘Le Vieux Pané’, this roughly translates into ‘The Old Bread’. Only being trained in GCSE French I automatically picked up on the ‘Vieux’ part of the title and thought ‘Great… older means more mature, and more mature means stronger flavours’. What I really should have picked up on was the ‘Pané’ bit. Bread is normally considered as a staple food- it’s pretty common and is even fed to prisoners and pigeons. This cheese is blatantly the Babybel of France- tasty but mild enough to be packed into French kids’ lunchboxes. Oh, and it doesn’t have the fun red wax, only a misleading wooden box.

Sign number 2: The description on the front of the packaging reads ‘Typé & Cremeux’. Again, my eyes darted straight for the ‘cremeux’ part and I thought ‘Yes…creamy goodness awaits’. However, ‘typé’ in my mind equates to ‘typical’ in the English language. In this case, it appears the French were not afraid of being mildly insulting to their own creation. Maybe it was a clever marketing ploy so that the cheese could appeal to all, maybe it was a cruel joke the packaging department played on the rest of the company .

The lesson I have learnt in this case is don’t judge a cheese by its cover, unless you are going to surreptitiously study the cover for longer than would be deemed acceptable to not seem like a weirdo in the cheese section.

That being said, after I realised the cheese was ‘typical bread’, I began to eat it with no grand pretences and realised that, actually, its quite scrumptious.

Also for anyone wanting to write French words with an English keyboard, check this out: http://french.typeit.org/. Oh, how NIFTY the internet can be.

 

Gorgonzola for brunch

14 Jan

Tucking in to a cheese brunch...yum.

Cheese is generally known as an after dinner delight. Not so, say I. I believe that cheese is good for all times of the day. In fact, I believe it is even acceptable to eat cheese for breakfast. Well, I normally don’t eat breakfast so technically, this is a cheese brunch. Not that I condone not eating breakfast, I’m sure it is very worthwhile.

Here in this picture I am eating a lovely concoction of Castelli Cairati Gorgonzola Piccante on toast with my homemade sweet chilli jam (I aim to be the next Martha Stewart, without the whole jail palava or maybe the next Nigella Lawson, without the whole midnight snacking and obsession with cream)…from the Tesco’s Finest range. Yes, I know. Some cheese snobs may not regard Tesco as a cheese connoisseur, but it’s called FINEST range for a reason and by reading the packet I have found out that it’s made by genuine Italian brothers in Italy….sounds legit. To be honest, as long as it tastes good it’s worth eating. I also have a glass of milk to wash it down with, making myself a bit of a dairy queen, and I don’t mean the fast food restaurant in America.

A quick cheese supermarket debate: Tesco vs. Waitrose. Normally I regard Waitrose with disdain as it is, lets admit it, a pretentious supermarket. It offers lots of yummy snacks, but you could never play the pound game in it, something that I value in supermarket shopping. The pound game is when you trawl the supermarket aisles only buying things that are a pound or less (cheese normally is an exception to this rule as it’s basically the equivalent of food gold). However, when it comes to cheese sections I have to say that Waitrose beats Tesco hands down, it stocks cheese royalty whilst Tesco only contains lesser barons and lords. It’s actually quite embarassing for poor old Tesco.

Back to cheese- This Gorgonzola tastes like Stilton wanted to look younger and had a cream bath. It’s creamy (it would definitely ooze if you left it out of the fridge) but still has it’s mouldy streaks. The flavour is musky, like a heated attic room in summer. Some may say over-powering, but over-powering in a good way…like if you were being smothered by Johnny Depp or a room full of tame fluffy Chinchillas. The flavour tends to linger in your mouth, like you have just been given a new super-power that enables you to breath on inanimate objects and turn them into Gorgonzolas. However, if you wash it down with a glass of milk (semi-skimmed, of course) your mouth will slowly return back to normal.

Despite cheese being worthy of all day time meals and snacks, I feel I must give a warning that it should not be consumed for every meal all in the same day. This way you will no longer be a dairy queen but a Jabba the Hut, and he was a bad guy. No-one wants that.

To make sweet chilli jam follow this recipe: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/8257/sweet-chilli-jam I added extra dried chilli’s for extra kick.

A Musing on Oozing

10 Jan

a little bit of oozage

Mmmm scrumptious…..is there anything more enticing than cutting into a wheel of cheese and seeing its contents ooze out onto your knife? Maybe it’s only me but I tend to rate a cheese on how oozy it can get. An example: Camembert trumps Brie as it has a more triumphant ooze factor. This ooze obsession has gotten so bad that I absent-mindedly wander over to the cheese department in supermarkets and find myself picking up various cheeses and prodding them to see which will ooze more.

I think this is why I will always be a bit bias towards soft cheeses. When you leave a soft cheese out of the fridge it becomes a beautiful melty oozy delight. When you leave a hard cheese out often little globlets of gross looking moisture form on its surface like cheesy sweat. ick. Ooze over sweat any day is what I say.

Talking of Camembert I’m having little nibbles from the Le Rustique one shown in the picture right now. I feel as if I should be wearing a beret and carrying a baguette under one arm. I’m also weirdly reminded of the Boursin advert where they are having a picnic in a field and then get run over by a combine harvester. I guess Camembert with it’s stinky (some may say ‘full bodied’) taste and oozing texture will always be irrevocably linked with France. It’s the kind of cheese that I imagine all French people take on picnics and family holidays, the cheese slowly oozing and stinking out the back of the car whilst the French family sings along to Bridget Bardot’s song ‘Moi Je joue’ (the only French song I can think of right now).

The only thing that would make my Camembert eating experience more enjoyable right now is if I poked little holes in it, poured red wine over it, and then heated it up in the oven. Then it would be uber oozy.

To enjoy an authentic French experience go buy some Camembert and click on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJ2mGqL1HEk

Just imagine a Camembert behind every one of Bridget Bardot’s dance scenes.

Gevrik Goats Cheese

5 Jan

Cheese photography at its best

So I braved the English wind and rain yesterday to get to Waitrose to obtain this cheesy treasure. It’s a small goaty cheese made in Cornwall- big up the British cheeses eh?

When you bite into this creamy delight it’s a bit like biting into butter with a goaty twang. However, this mini cheese is not a stinker unlike some other overpowering goats cheeses out there. If you’ve ever smelled a goat you will realise that they have a very distinctive smell- god knows why, but if you ever pet one and for some reason don’t wash your hands you could end up stinking like one for at least a day. Point is, I can safely say that in eating this cheese you will not have to worry about strangers giving you uncomplimentary nicknames behind your back such as stinky goat kisser.

A bit off topic, I must give a warning to all travelers planning on embarking on a journey with cheese in your bag. If the cheese is already a bit pongy when you first take it out of the fridge the smell is undoubtedly only going to get worse as it warms up (especially if this cheese is called Munster). This then leads to you having to deal with the embarrassment of others moving away from you, giving you unsavoury looks and even commenting loudly on how your surrounding area ‘doesn’t half stink’ as the teenager on the bus put it so lightly. On the plus side, you will get the double seat on the bus/train all to yourself and will not have to deal with awkward stranger chat.

Back to Gevrik, the distinctive ‘describing’ words that come through when muching down on this delight are ‘earthy’ and ‘nutty’. Kind of like the goat fell in an aromatic mud pit littered with nuts, but then had a rinse before giving its milk to the Cornish farmers. The texture is butter-y, kind of like a Cornish cream tea without the jam but in cheese form.

To sum it all up the taste is subtle and doesn’t offend the palate or any wary cheese eaters. If it were a partner you could take it home to meet the parents and the grandparents and both would approve.  My only qualm is that the cheese is so small, when it’s as more-ish as it is it could easily be gulped down in one sitting. Then again, maybe with its likenesses to butter this is a pointed gesture to stop arteries being clogged and the Cornish creamery sued.

Oooohhh….just found out that Gevrik means ‘little goat’ in Cornish- apt indeed for the tiny cheese.

For more information on Cornish Country Larder (the guys who made the cheese) visit: http://www.ccl-ltd.co.uk/gevrik.html