Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Barkham Blue - discus shaped nugget of cheese gold

Dad came over to the new house last weekend. He had been on one of those little mid-week trips away with mum to the Cotswolds. I already knew he had a little present for me because he rang me one afternoon out of a pleasant conversation with the owners of the Cotswold Cheese Company. He said they had a nice conversation about cheese (see what I've driven him to!) and had recommended a couple of blues that might take my fancy.

One of these was the Barkham Blue - named after the town where its producers - the Two Hoots Cheese Company - base themselves in Berkshire. Not too far away from me actually! It is made with milk from Channel Island cows, which is where it gets its rich and creamy flavour from.

It comes in the shape of a massive cheese discus, or massive mini-babybel (which I guess would not make it a 'mini'-babybel. A huge-daddybel maybe!? I digress). There is no correlation here between shape and flavour.... but it looks cool.

It reminds me quite a bit of the Cornish Blue that I have reviewed before. It is not hugely pungent, which would make it more attractive to the non-blue crowd and as I mentioned above, the cheese has a real creamy aftertaste and a really smooth and silky texture. Beautiful. Like cleansing your mouth with dairy gold! The Cotswold Cheese Company obviously knew what they were talking about so I couldn't wait to have a go at the other cheese dad had brought back. For now though I enjoyed this. I give it a 9. Definitely worth a try.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Comte - Lovely. Milky-milky!

Yes, I have been away for a little while. Naughty Chris! Bad boy! In your bed! Well, the last couple of months have been a whirlwind of moving house, changing jobs and eating cheese. I have lots to catch up on then, and there are lots of new flavours that I want to record.

The Comte was recommended from a good friend of mine who was insistent that I try it. He picked it up one afternoon whilst strolling around Greenwich market. It took me a while to get round to it, but I am glad that I did!

Tasting this one brought about an....interesting....reaction from me. I try to say the first thing I think of as it tends to be the most honest or 'raw' thought that I have about the cheese. When I put this one in my mouth and bit through its smooth make-up, I stopped, looked sideways to Zoe sitting next to me on the sofa, and said "It's really milky. It's like sucking on or licking a cow".

Now I don't want this to be misconstrued like it was at that moment by both Zoe and my dad who resorted to giggles and insults, cos I am not a vulgar man really. What I meant by this was that the cheese gave me a real taste of 'dairy'. Of the milk that made it up. Not of tasting beef or hide or any other crazy scenario your minds are conjuring up! It is a nice sensation instead. It's like sticking four mini-milk ice lollies into your mouth simultaneously or tipping a fresh tin-pail of milk over your upturned head.

In other words, it's nice. Comte cheese is made as one large round cheese. You tend to get it them in long thin slices, which is how mine came, fresh from Borough Market at London Bridge (see the picture below - its the big one at the top-right of the picture). When it is made it weighs about 50kg and is about 2 metres in diameter, and, it should not be surprising given my previous  rants, that it is made with between 500-600 litres of milk. It originates from the Jura mountains in France, where traditionally the cheesemakers would plunge their arms deep into the maturing liquid holding onto a  linen cloth, and then raise it out to remove the curdy lumps. Thank god some things change then ey!?

Rating time. Oh how I miss rating time. This is high on my list. I need to create a ladder to remember where I have placed the others. A bit like the one they have on Top Gear where smug leading drivers get misplaced every week. I do have extra space now in the new house. Hmmmmmm..... One for thought. I give this one an 8.5. Very enjoyable and it just brings something new to the table if you want to put out a variety. It is also one that I expect is enjoyed by non cheese fanatics as it is not very potent. Pure milky goodness.