When the temperature starts to plummet and the nights to draw in around mid-afternoon, it’s time to lay down some fat for the winter months ahead. Some might call it greed; I call it an evolutionary imperative. Mince pies and chocolate coins are a good start but fondues take some beating in the ‘optimum intake of calories in one sitting’ stakes.
People don’t tend to talk about cheese coincidences, do they? Perhaps most people don’t have cheese coincidences. I’m not sure I used to, to be honest, but if you’re going to eat a lot of cheese and read about a lot of cheese, it’s going to happen. And so it was when some friends came round for a fondue night and brought with them the gift of a chunk of cheese. (Kind guests! Wise guests!) The cheese was called Ogleshield and it just so happened that one of the cheeses that was lying in an enormous grated cheese-mountain behind me, ready to be fondued, was Bermondsey Hardpressed. And goodness me, what do you know, they only go and share a Cheese-Daddy! (That’s very different from a Sugar Daddy by the way…)
Here is the Ogleshield (it was vacuum-packed so I don’t think it usually looks quite this shiny):
I’d made fondue before but this was back in the days when I was under the illusion that all British cheese was good for was toast topping and jacket potatoes, so I’d used traditional Swiss cheeses such as Emmental and Gruyère. Having garnered a reputation as the local ‘mad cheese woman’, I’d been promising some neighbours a fondue knees-up for a while. Once the date was sealed, I decided to try and create a menu from British cheeses, now that I know what a great variety of styles there are available. So, I set off for Borough Market on a cheese-quest (ensuring that I had only a limited amount of cash and no card in my wallet so I didn’t get the Borough Market red mist and end up spending £120 on partridges, quinces and kangaroo salami).
Never one to miss the opportunity to try several new cheeses in one sitting, I recently hiked across to Brixton again to one of Ned Palmer’s tastings at Cannon and Cannon. If you missed the last instalment, ‘Eight Cheeses in One Day’, you can check out what I snaffled last time here.
The theme of this tasting was ‘Cheese and Culture’ in which Ned attempted to show how cheese has evolved through history according to the environments and societies which produced it. With two hours ticking on the clock and just eight cheeses on the plate (just eight cheeses!), Ned himself admitted that it was never going to be a comprehensive and chronological survey of global cheese history but it was certainly interesting. I won’t attempt to reproduce everything he said, partly because he might sue me and partly
mainly because I drank some beer and can’t remember. But I will tell you about the lovely cheeses and drop a few nuggets of information in as I recall them.