Saturday, 12 November 2011

Morbier - the ash cheese

I didn't really know what to expect of this cheese when I read the description on the label. This is a soft and squidgy cheese from a small town in the east of France that had been given to me as part of my birthday hamper that I had never heard of before (see blog - 'What is this all about?'). It is not soft like brie (i.e. it won't melt if left out) but soft with a nice soft elasticity to it. It has a musky and creamy kind of flavour to it and oh boy, it's lovely. 

Tradition has it that the cheese was first created when peasant farmers in the cold regions of eastern France started to combine a layer of morning milk and a layer of evening milk. 'Pierre' the French peasant farmer would pour the milk from the morning milking and then covered the curd with ash to protect it from insects, beasts and boogeymen while it waited. It would then be added to after the evening / next morning milking. Funny how something so lush had such interesting beginnings. 

This one I would have to give and 8.5 out of 10. It really is worth a go if you see it out. I haven't seen it available in supermarkets very often, but is easy to get hold of online (such as the houseofcheese) or in local food markets. 

The Scoring System

Now I realise that taste is all subjective, and so what I like will not necessarily be an experience shared with others. So I thought it was worth defining the direction to which my taste buds sway. 

To be perfectly honest, there are not many foods or flavours that I actively dislike. And that's kind of saying something considering I have eaten cow intestine, locusts and snake in the past. And you may have guessed - I am a 'love' Marmite guy. Those foods that really don't float my boat though include: anchovies, vinegar (including salt and vinegar crisps), artichoke and liquorice (I mean, why would you!?). So the fact that I like most foods out there means that I am pretty open minded to the cheeses that I'm trying. 

Nevertheless, everyone has a biased tongue for certain flavours and textures - which is incidentally why I love cheese! But I think I have to say that I am probably drawn more towards (1) the soft & smooth cheeses like Brie and Camembert; and (2) the stinky, smelly strong cheeses like the Stiltons and the blues. Oh baby! It's the dry cheeses that I don't favour as much, but I will try to be as unbiased as possible in trying to score some of these cheeses. After all, all cheeses suit different moods and compliment different foods that surround them. And the dry cheeses are very good in salads for example. 

So I'll be scoring from 1 to 10, with ten being the supercalifragelisticexpialidocious cheeses and one being those that I think taste like poo (not that I have). This will help me to remember those that I love in order to keep them in my cheese stock, and if anyone else is interested, then they can go out and try some as well! Let's get scoring. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Trick or Treat! - Yorkshire Wensleydale & Apricot

I don't usually go for the cheeses that throw in a bit of fruit. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm all for experimentation with foods - and even in cheese - but there is something sacrilegious about adding fruit to cheese. That said, it was with high Halloowe'en spirits that I decided to try this one. I was going to watch the Shining while eating it but Zo doesn't like horrors!

It wasn't the worst I've ever had, but I just find these cheeses really dry and too sweet (which I don't like associating with cheese). It's the kind that I would put on a party platter if people came round - but just to give people an option. And not on a SERIOUS cheese platter. That's Sunday best stuff.

I'll give this one a 4 out of 10. It was worth a dabble but I don't think I'd buy it again. I'll leave that for Herman Munster. He'll eat anything...

Sunday, 23 October 2011

What's this all about?

So I have always loved cheese, but not to an extent that I ever wanted to write or dedicate a blog page to it. So why now? It's a bit weird that I have chosen to do so actually but it is therapeutic to be writing about something that you like and can just do in your own time.

What happened was, it was my birthday a month and a half ago and Linda D (my girlfriend's mum) had a thoughtful present for me waiting at her house. Zoe (gf) and I popped round on the Saturday night for dinner and XFactor, and after spending an hour laughing at some of the tone-deaf people who genuinely believe they can sing, Linda went into the kitchen and came out with a giant hamper saying 'happy birthday' to me. On unwrapping the cloth to reveal the contents, my face went into 'cheeky beam' mode. It was full of cheese, wine, oils (cooking!) and A GIANT PORK PIE with my name on it. (interjection - at this point I should state that pork pie is the only other food that challenges cheese at the top of my love list! When they both come together, like pork & Stilton pie...ohhhh baby!!).

Over the last few weeks since, I have been chomping through (nom-nom-nom!) these various cheeses that I had not heard of or seen before and hit a couple that made me think 'phwoarrr - that ain't half bad mate!' in my best Essex accent. They were good and I wanted to eat them again. I decided that the best thing to do was to get a notebook, write down their names and a short rating of why I liked them. Then I thought 'hey, I'm a 21st century guy - why not write a blog? That way I'll have the record with me wherever I go and it can be like one of the travel diaries I've had in the past - except with stories about cheese.'

So there you have it. I sit here now talking about these experiences feeling a little bit like teen medic Doogie Howser MD, except my computer is a little less antiquated and I don't write about saving lives (only hypothetically by spreading the word of cheese). I probably won't just stick to reviews of cheese. There are too many other stories and opinions to share!

Monday, 17 October 2011

The creation of CHEESE!!

On day 6 God created land animals and humans. And that's where it all began. The two creatures came into being that I have to thank for the most wondrous and flavoursome food created. The cow took its first breath and was compelled to nosh into the lush green grass. Cud was chewed and reproduction led to the production of milk. Man came along, domesticated the cow for its own guaranteed nourishment of meat and fresh milk. One day, Keith (the man) went away on a long fishing trip having left a cup of his fresh milk on the side. He returned some time later, tired and miffed at the lack of fish. He walked to the sideboard where he had left his cup and, thirsty from his trip, took a swig of his milk. He fell to his knees as his taste buds vibrated with Mexican waves of delight.  And there, in that mud hut, the WONDER of cheese was born. God bless Keith...