Tag Archives: double gloucester

Pumpkin and Chestnut Macaroni Cheese

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Never fear, Halloween haters, it’s safe to come out for another year. Love it or hate it, it’s undeniable that the surge in spooky celebrations has been a boon for pumpkin farmers. Every year, we enter the fiercely competitive Tooting Common Pumpkin Carving Competition and even managed to score a second prize last year with the scary fellow above. This year – allotment smugness alert – we managed to grow our own. I would love to take credit for their vastness by claiming that I’d administered secret potions or performed arcane fertility rites but, in reality, I forgot what I’d planted and only discovered them when we returned from a fortnight’s holiday.

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Aldi’s Artisan British Cheese Range

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First, a confession. When I received an initial email from Aldi’s PR people, telling me that they were launching a new British cheese range, my first thought was along the lines of ‘Euw, that’s unlikely to be pleasant.’ It wasn’t a snobbish reaction against discount outlets but more a terror of supermarket cheese in general. I was once on a panel that had to judge supermarket territorial cheese and it was a fairly dismal experience. It was impossible to tell apart a Wensleydale from a Caerphilly, Lancashire or Cheshire, and the orange versions could equally have been Red Leicester or Double Gloucester. I digress but, in conclusion, I nearly did the British thing of ignoring the email entirely.

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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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Cheese-Rolling on Cooper’s Hill

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I grew up in the sort of place where young men were not afraid to Morris Dance. Similarly somewhere, in the forgotten bowels of local press archives, there may be a photograph of me dressed as a Victorian wench, holding a scabby old stuffed monkey. If there was a local tradition that involved dressed up strangely and behaving oddly, we were all out on the streets like moths to the proverbial flame. So I was almost tempted by the annual cheese-rolling extravaganza at Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire. Rolling down a grassy slope whilst probably under the influence of alcohol? Oh yeah, been there, done that.
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Single Gloucester PDO

Some cheeses come with such a history and pedigree that I’m almost afraid to try them in case they taste like dust or tom cat’s spray. And so it was with this week’s cheese which manages to combine coming back from the dead with gaining the coveted PDO status and being cheese-sibling of ‘Britain’s smelliest cheese.’ It also has the distinction of being the nicest-smelling cheese I’ve yet to come across. If this cheese were a person, I’d be handing them a big red book and so, in the style of Michael Aspel (or Eamonn Andrews if you’ve got a couple of years on me): ‘Single Gloucester, This Is Your Life’…

Single Gloucester PDO Charles Martell
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