I’ve had a little break from blogging for a while, mainly because I quite like absenting myself from all forms of social media every now and then. It’s perhaps not coincidental though that my break coincided with the ‘hunger gap’, the time of year when there is least fresh produce available to pick and eat. It’s been a busy time down on the allotment though, with a feverish period of digging, weeding, manuring and planting- and now we are finally starting to reap the rewards.
Broad beans are the first crop of the new season. Last year, mine were a dismal failure, with the black fly finishing off what little the slugs and mice had left. This year is a different story though, with six kilos in the bag and yet more to come.
The beans are best prized from their furry beds when still small and tender, when they are perfect for lightly steaming, slipping from their skins and eating in a salad. This must barely qualify as a recipe but does give me the chance to showcase Sinodun Hill, a divine goat’s cheese that I came across at a local market last week. Combine the cheese with the shelled beans, sliced radishes, baby salad leaves and sunflower seeds. Dress with olive oil and a light drizzle of vincotto, a thick, sweet syrup made from unfermented grape must.
Sinodun Hill is an unpasteurised, lactic goat’s milk cheese, made by Rachel Yarrow and Fraser Norton of Norton and Yarrow Cheeses in Oxfordshire. The cheese has only been in production since last year when Rachel, a teacher and Fraser, who worked in agricultural research, decided to follow their dream of farming and cheesemaking. The couple, after much research, decided to build a herd of Anglo-Nubian goats, which are renowned for their creamy milk.
Sinodun Hill is named after a local landmark (‘Mother Dunch’s Buttocks’ is another name for the location, which surely has cheese name potential written all over it). Raw milk from their own herd of 35 adult milking goats, currently supplemented with another herd of local goats, is used to make the cheese. Produced using traditional French methods, the result is a fresh, yoghurty-tasting interior, with a Geotrichum rind that slips and slides over a gooey layer just underneath. Perfect for early summer salads or, indeed, smearing on to oatcakes and devouring.