Tag Archives: cheddar cheese

Quicke’s Elderflower Clothbound Cheddar

What season are we in right now? It’s easy to lose track. The last four months seem to have merged into one long biblical downpour, punctuated only by the briefest teasing sun-spells. Fortunately, I came across a froth of elderflowers recently, soggy but defiant, the last on the bush, to remind me that apparently it’s summer.

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They also served to remind me about one of the cheeses that I’d tried back in April, when I visited Devon, but never got round to writing about: Quicke’s Elderflower Cheddar.

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Quicke’s Elderflower Cheddar is a hard, pasteurised, cow’s milk cheese, produced by Mary Quicke and her team at Newton St Cyres, near Exeter in Devon. The Quicke family have been farming the pastures here for more than 450 years and the operation is now run by fourteenth-generation Mary Quicke, with other family members. Herds of cows, cross-bred to produce quality (as opposed to quantity) milk roam the fields, where the temperate climate of the West Country bestows a perfect balance of sun and showers.

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Cheddar Cheese and Wild Leek Scones

DSCF0427Last 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.

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Crab, Samphire and Barber’s 1833 Quiche

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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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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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Culture Vultures: The Cheese Bacteria That You Need

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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.
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Caveman’s Cheesy Meatballs

Caveman's Cheesy Meatballs

As I wrote last week, I was lucky enough to be sent a truckle of Wookey Hole Cave-Aged Cheddar to try and, although we have been gobbling it non-stop throughout the festive period and beyond, it stands undefeated. I swear it grows back overnight. So, I thought I’d use some of it to cook up something suitably troglodyte-friendly. I pondered about what cave-people would eat (probably not mature cheese, to be fair) and the basic principle I came up with was: MEAT.

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Wookey Hole Cave-Aged Cheddar

Happy New Year everyone! Okay, I realise I’m a bit on the late side for that but I’ve been so busy lazing about, scoffing festive cheese, that this poor old blog has been a bit neglected. But here I am, pushing away the tumbleweeds and blowing off the cobwebs, ready to start the year afresh. And what better way to leap back into action than with a great big bear of a cheese?

Most cheeses on this blog I forage for but I was lucky enough to be sent this week’s. I received it a week before Christmas, then my parents arrived and my dad took a serious fancy to it, along with the Other Half who hasn’t stop guzzling it. Or indeed myself. But the cheese lives on. It’s like the tardis of cheeses. So here it is (and I must apologise to any cheese pros for the photo as so eager was I to get to the cheese that I cut it in half before I read the label on the bottom telling me not to do just that. Whoopsie):

wookey hole cave-aged cheddar

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Five Counties

Every now and then I see one of those posters advertising an eighties spectacular concert and I’m tempted. The line-up usually features any and all of the following: Rick Astley, Bananarama, Katrina and the Waves, T’Pau and Curiosity Killed the Cat. They sound like fun events, a mash-up of all the pop acts of my schooldays. How can you go wrong, combining all your favourite things together at once? Well, that, dear reader, is what I will explore in today’s post.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t plan to buy this week’s cheese. We’ve all been under the weather in this house (nothing to do with my cheesy cocktail, I can assure you) and anyway I seem to have spent much of my life this week waiting in for deliveries. So I haven’t had a chance to go anywhere other than my local supermarket, which is where I found this cheese. And I’ll admit, when I first saw it, my innate cheese snob rose up and said ‘no’. I did the rest of my shopping but kept thinking: ‘What’s your problem. Not all British cheeses are made from the milk of rare-breed pygmy llamas and pressed between the thighs of Morris Men in Neolithic caves. It’s a British cheese you’ve never tried before. Go and buy it. Then try it.’ So that’s what I did. And here it is, Five Counties:

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Tooting Gold: Judgement Day

home-made cheddar cheese

Anyone who’s been getting their cheesy fix from this blog for a while now will know that in the bowels of my house, amongst the old abs toners and rusting tins of paint, lives a home-made cheddar which goes by the name of Tooting Gold (or more affectionately E-Colin, or Colin for short). Colin was made in June 2013. I’d been learning about cheese for about six weeks when I thought it would be interesting to see for myself how it’s made and so, with zero knowledge about milk, cultures, rennet, temperatures, acidity, timings, hygiene, maturation or indeed pretty much any aspect of cheese-making, I plunged right in there and tried to make a cheddar. Not an easy ricotta or even a little chèvre. Oh no. A cheddar, which requires rennet and cultures and cheddaring and moulding and maturing and all manner of what-not.
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Barber’s Cheese, Starter Cultures and Success with Soufflés

Twice Baked Cheddar Cheese Soufflés Barber's 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar

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.
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