Radicchio and Durrus Risotto

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I’m sure you have all been on the edge of your seats, waiting to hear of my progress up the allotment waiting list. Well, big news here, I have a plot! I’ve been pretty lucky to inherit a patch that’s been well-cared for until recently, compared to some of the weed forests that are also up for grabs. In fact I’ve been pretty lucky full-stop, considering that I live in London where some waiting lists are 40 years long and people even put their children down to secure an allotment for their future middle age!

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Courgette and Nottinghamshire Blue Cheese Soup

Courgette and Nottinghamshire Blue Soup

This week brought the exciting news that I have reached number six on the allotment waiting list and so should get my soft city hands on a plot in the next few months. Usually in London, to get an allotment you have to: a) wait for two decades; b) bump off the 73 people ahead of you on the list; or, c) sleep with at least seven senior figures from the borough council. Fortunately for me, one of my local allotments got funding a couple of years ago to regenerate some disused land to create about 70 new allotments and so the waiting list is short and the turnover relatively high.

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Fromage Friday: Fosse Way Fleece

When choosing a cheese to write about, I always try and mix it up so there’s a variety of styles, animals and places of origin. I thought I’d done pretty well this week, following a cow’s milk cheddar with a sheep’s milk cheese but then it turns out that I’d managed to pick two cheeses made about half a mile away from each other. So, following Barber’s cheddar, come out of the lane, go past the pub, round the corner to the right and up the hill. There you are: this week’s cheese, Fosse Way Fleece:

fosse way fleece

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Crab, Samphire and Barber’s 1833 Quiche

crab, samphire and barber's 1833 quiche

Well, it looks like the summer holidays have certainly taken their toll on my blog. Museum visits, cricket in the park and excessive ice-cream consumption (not to mention the small matter of doing some actual work on top) left little time for writing about cheese. And the more you feel guilty about not doing something, the harder it becomes to actually do it after a while. Fortunately, the schools have opened their doors once more and, at the same time, the cheddar-makers at Barber’s asked me if I’d like to develop a new recipe for their flagship 1833 brand. It was just what I needed to get back on the cheese-horse again.

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Butternut Squash and Highcross Lasagne

Butternut Squash and Highcross Lasagne

This weather is crazy. Just when you think it’s time to live on watermelon and salad in your flipflops, hailstones the size of conkers start smashing up your greenhouse. It’s important to be prepared for all eventualities and this includes having comfort food and a slanket to hand. This lasagne is easy to make, fools small children into eating vegetables and is perfect for sub-zero summer afternoons. I used Highcross from Wildes Cheese which is matured in a vat of salt, water and lemon. It’s salty and crumbly, a bit like Feta and its sharpness goes well against the sweet squash.

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Fromage Friday: Inglewhite Buffalo

The wealth of information now available about British cheeses and their producers usually makes it pretty easy to research and write about whichever hunk has made it to Fromage Friday. But boy oh boy was this week’s cheese ever a slippery one to pin down. It has taken sleuthmanship and cunning beyond the wit of man to find out even the basics. I’m mentally spent. So, here is it, the Loch Ness Monster, the Lord Lucan of cheeses, Inglewhite Buffalo:

inglewhite buffalo

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Wild Garlic and Wilde’s Curd Cheese Cornbread

wild garlic and curd cheese cornbread

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.

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Wilde are the Cheesemakers

Philip Wilton, Wilde's Cheese

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.

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Fromage Friday: Norfolk Mardler

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?

Norfolk Mardler

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Troglodytes and Turophiles (or, a Tale of Cave-dwellers and Cheese-lovers)

Wookey Hole Cheddar

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.
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