It’s been a while since I posted a cheesy recipe on here but the lovely chaps at Wilde’s Cheese sent me away with such a mammoth cheese doggy-bag that I had two choices: use all the pieces to build a cheese igloo, or get my cooking cap on. As well as cheese, they also gave me a gorgeous bunch of wild garlic, the last of the season. I can only find wild leeks round here so this was a real treat. Searching for inspiration, I came across and slightly adapted this recipe, which seemed the perfect way to wed up some of my ingredients. The result was lovely, gritty cornbread, studded with melty bits of curd cheese. I halved the quantity of wild garlic in the recipe but even so it packs a punch, so probably not a great first date food. Fortunately, I am old and well past all that malarkey.
Most recounts of visits to cheese-makers seem to involve the word ‘bucolic’ and descriptions of jade-green grass and tumbling verges. Often cows feature, grazing contentedly in a hazy middle distance. Not so on my visit to Wildes Cheese. Stepping out from the train station, the only green to be spotted is the odd blowsy branch of elderflower hanging off the rail embankment and some plantains piled up outside a local shop. Tottenham is many things but a rural idyll is not one of them.
I love a good regional word or saying. Where I’m from you can ‘have a cob on’, ‘be a mardarse’ or ‘firkle around’. I’ve also always like to get my boots ‘plothered’ but no-one else has heard of this so I suspect I might have made it up. So, I like the fact that this week’s cheese, Norfolk Mardler, is named after a dialect word. Ah, c’mon, everyone knows what a mardler is, right?
Many myths abound about the origins of Cheddar and why the world-famous cheese took its name from a small village in Somerset. One is that a milkmaid left a pail of milk in the Cheddar Gorge caves for safety and when she returned found that it had turned into a delicious cheese. Another tale features some monks on a pilgrimage to nearby Glastonbury, a thunderstorm and some similarly transformative milk. Whilst anyone who has ever left milk in the fridge and gone on holiday for a fortnight will view such tales with scepticism, there’s no doubt that the cheese does take its name from the village of Cheddar which lies at the foot of the famous caverns. And, if you go down to the caves today, albeit the nearby Wookey Hole caverns, you’ll once more find some cheese.
Well, no-one can say that I didn’t get my cheese-worth from my recent ramble around West Wales. Following last week’s Visit to Caws Teifi and the previous post about Y-Fenni, I am back this week with a double bill of Welsh cheesiness from the Caws Cenarth cheesemakers. My eldest son and I visited the farm and watched the cheesemakers in action from the purpose-built viewing room. It’s a great way to see the process, although I felt a bit sorry for them – what if they fancy talking to themselves or scratching their bottom? We chose today’s cheese through the simple process of: we’ll taste everything we can get our hands on in the farm shop and then you can choose one to buy and I’ll choose one. Caws Llain (top picture) is my choice and Lancych Mature (bottom) is my offspring’s:
I was a bit nervous as I drove down the winding lanes that lead to Glynhynod Farm in Ceredigion, West Wales. John Savage-Onstwedder, the maker of Teifi cheese (in Welsh: Caws Teifi, the former to rhyme with ‘mouse’ and the latter pronounced ‘Tie-vee’) is known as ‘the Godfather of Welsh artisan cheese’ and makes the most highly-awarded cow’s milk cheese in Britain. He’s cheese royalty, if you like.
Eek, it’s been quite a while since my last post but, in my defence, I have been on some intrepid cheese travels, exploring the beautiful coast and valleys of West Wales and eating rather a lot of local cheese along the way. More of that soon but first I bring you Y-Fenni, a little number I picked up in a deli in the pastel-pretty seaside village of Aberaeron:
This week’s cheeses (yes, it’s a rare double-bill this week!) have had me thinking about what sort of cheese I’d like to be immortalised as. It’s a tricky one. Much as I adore blue cheese, its main characteristics are mould and stinkiness, which I’m not sure I’d like to be summed up by. Ditto smear-ripened cheese which is a bit of a smelly joke. Perhaps a farmhouse cheddar? But then that just brings up words like ‘earthy’ and ‘robust’ which would make me sound like a used tractor. Hmmmm… Anyway, republicans look away as this week I bring you The Duke and Duchess:
One of the lovely things about writing about British produce is that you get to learn about new areas of the British Isles which sound rather appealing. And so it is that we’ll be spending half the Easter holidays in west Wales, partly because it sounds like a peaceful idyll full of pristine beaches and rivers packed with jumping fish and partly because it’s been described as ‘the Loire of Welsh cheesemaking’. And whereas some cheesemakers (somewhat understandably) say on their website ‘don’t come and visit us, we’re too busy making cheese’, these Welsh cheesemakers are all like: ‘Please come and visit us – we’d love to see you!’ and ‘Drop by, see us in action and taste our cheese!’ Well, don’t mind if I do…but first this week’s suitably Welsh cheese:
You know you’re advancing in years when a) you get excited by the thought of buying a mandolin (the chopping, not the Captain Corelli variety) and b) you then get enraged because it turns out it doesn’t slice thinly enough for your liking. So, all ideas of conning my children by making vegetable crisps out of the window, I was left pondering what to do with my new toy so that I didn’t hurl it against a wall. As fate would have it, I was also pondering what to do with the remains of last week’s Nuns of Caen that the kinds folks at The Cheese Market had given to me in abundance. This recipe is therefore the coming together of some too-thickly-sliced vegetables, a luscious cheese washed in perry and – it only seemed fitting – some pears. It was eaten with pork chops, also cooked in perry with shallots and sage.