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):
Anyone who grew up in Britain in the seventies or eighties will remember Sunday night TV for one thing: James Herriot driving his Austin 7 through the Yorkshire Dales to the sounds of a soaring, tinkling piano soundtrack. All Creatures Great and Small had a huge effect on me as a child and inspired two ambitions: one, to become a vet and two, to play the piano. The first ambition was swiftly crushed come GCSE time when half of my teachers ganged up to inform me that I was hopeless at science and should do something arty-farty instead. The second was more fruitful and I taught myself to play the entire theme tune from scratch. It remains the only piano piece I have ever played (aside from Beverley Craven’s ‘Promise Me’, but let’s draw a veil over that).
I digress. I chose this week’s cheese because it epitomises the landscape of the Yorkshire Dales. Its history and substance is so intertwined with the area, from the cows and sheep that pepper the hills and valleys to the dry stone walls which its very rind resembles. I’ve even put it on a grassy-green plate this week, because it seemed somehow to belong there:
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’…