Last week I was off to see the Barber family, who make Cheddar cheese down in Somerset. I’ve been to see them before but, as they are the guardians of the last traditional cheese cultures, I wanted to talk to their cultures expert (I’m not very scientific so need such things explaining to me at least three times, preferably with pictures). I thought it only polite to take something suitably cheesy with me, so opted for scones, made with their 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar. There’s nothing worse than a cheese scone that isn’t cheesy so the 1833 is a good choice, punchy and tasty as it is.
Tag Archives: barber’s cheddar
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.
There are several sights you might expect to see on a visit to a Somerset cheesemakers: blotchy black and white cows grazing jade meadows; grown men wearing hairnets; great hulks of maturing yellow cheddar. But one thing you perhaps don’t figure on stumbling upon is a state-of-the-art laboratory complete with microscopes and canisters of liquid nitrogen.
You don’t hear about cheese toasties much these days, do you? They’ve all been rebranded as paninis and grilled cheese sandwiches. So recently, when I was invited to take part in a cheese toastie-making competition by the Barber’s Cheddar maestros, it triggered all manner of culinary flashbacks. I used to love a toastie growing up and my older sister and I concocted some interesting variations on the cheese classic, most notably banana toasties (very sweet, certainly likely to burn your upper lip) and baked beans (does very pleasant and interesting things to the bread inside, trust me on this one).
Down in the West Country recently, I found myself with a large amount of Barber’s Cheddar cheese (there’s a story behind this but that’s for another time). I’ve written about their cheese before here: not only do they make a really good block Cheddar, they are also the oldest Cheddar-maker in the world and the guardians of Britain’s traditional starter cultures, which is a pretty big deal for many of our farmhouse cheese-makers.
Contrary to what some of my friends think, I do not, alas, lie on a chaise longue all today quaffing free cheese. Partly because eating cheese lying down is a recipe for indigestion but also because mine is not the kind of blog that gets inundated with freebies. Which is fine by me, as a large part of the fun of it is deciding what cheese to try next.
Recently, however, I got invited to the Good Food Show by the cheddar chaps at Barber’s in Somerset and didn’t hesitate to accept; partly because it seemed free cheese might finally be in the offing, partly because it meant twelve hours on my own without having to attend to anyone’s toileting or answer questions about slugs, but mainly because I had recently found out that Barber’s are the sole guardians of Britain’s traditional starter cultures. For a cheese geek like me, it was an offer too good to turn down.