by Anna Jacob
Ben has been very productive and written loads of ‘top fives’ at this point, so I thought I’d muscle in and write one of my own. I decided to stick to a subject I am truly passionate about, so here are five of the best of something very close to my heart (literally, clogging up arteries as we speak): Cheese. Delicious cheese.
You may have gathered that our leanings here on this blog are pretty green and lefty-ish. To be honest, with the impending global nightmare that our mass inaction on climate change is rewarding us with, I don’t see how I could lean any other way, especially if I intend to have children someday… which I might do… I definitely want a kitten. Anyway, you may have heard that meat and meat-product over-eating is getting us all in a spot of massive carbon footprint trouble. So as part of my 10:10 pledge I have given up beef and cut down my meaty meals significantly (I’m currently farting out the falafel-scented results of this new diet). Unfortunately, I am in no way willing to give up or cut down on cheese (an almost equally carbon-awful product). I feel I am already doing my bit, and I must be rewarded somehow. My carbon footprint is half that of the average Brit and about a millionth of the average American and they don’t even have decent cheese in America! (Ben will argue that point, but only because he’s American and loves to be contrary. He thinks Monterey Jack is a decent cheese. It’s not. It barely falls into the ‘edible’ category.)
So. I’m sleeping in 2 pairs of pyjamas, saving up for a wind turbine, cycling and waiting with abated rage for delayed and overpriced public transport, eating local potatoes and loving the Eurostar. We’re even taking a boat to New York next year! I am thereby non-guiltily filling my fat little face with all the cheese I can afford. Here are the ones that I like the bestest:
(I can also buy all of these on our local highstreet, so at least that lowers the travel emissions… somewhat. And they’re all European!)
1 – Cornish Yarg
This is probably my favourite cheese at the moment. It’s made in Cornwall (the clue’s in the name) and it’s light, firm but not crumbly and full of wonderful flavours. The wild garlic leaf wrapped variety is amazing. I could just eat this cheese forever. It’s brilliant.
I’m saving up to buy a whole round of this, and then I’ll spend a whole weekend eating it like a cake.
The only problem with this one is that it’s often a little pricey… and locally I can only get it in Whole Foods on Parkway which is one of those annoying shops which sells great food, but ruins it with ridiculously over the top packaging with an equally laughable price tag. I did once see Sadie Frost in there though, and I cannot help but continue to bankrupt myself on their banana and walnut chocolate, drool-worthy cheese section and Organic Ales. Fortunately their bread isn’t so expensive and they do the most incredible sourdough bread. You can also re-use the paper bags if you feel as guilty about landfill as I do.
Dammit! I’ve digressed onto bread, the pedestal on which cheese should be placed! Anyway, Cornish Yarg is awesome, go buy it and eat it and develop an addiction and then we can set up a Yarg addiction support group.
Next we have a blue beauty from my adopted homeland: The Emerald Isle.
2 – Cashel Blue
Cashel Blue was developed in 1984, and is Ireland’s original artisinal blue. It is the creation of Jane and Louis Grubb, a husband and wife team and is made by their family on a single farm in Tipperary, Ireland.
This may seem controversial from someone hailing from the same land as Stilton, but this is without a doubt my favourite blue cheese. The way it just melts onto toasted sourdough.. nomnomnom! the creaminess with the blue bite.. Oh man I miss having this stuff available on my doorstep. I haven’t found that many places that stock Cashel Blue in the UK, apart from the depressingly upper-middle-class Waitrose. But track it down, and you’re in for a right old treat! We always crumble a bit in to our Macaroni Cheese along with nutmeg and mustard. It’s pretty bangin’!
3 – Doux de Montagne
(available in M&S and plenty of other places I’m sure)
Doux de Montagne (or ‘smooth mountain’ as it prefers to be called’) originates from the Monts du Velay region of France. I love this cheese as it goes as well with beer as it does with wine, including white and sparkling sorts. Ben and I recently had an idyllic evening together drinking Orval (our favourite Belgian beer) eating Doux de Montagne and watching Twin Peaks. Now that may just be the recipe for happiness: booze + cheese + gripping boxset + sofa = inner peace and wellbeing. This cheese also makes a perfectly understated sandwich, just on its own in a crusty french baguette.
Doux de Montagne is described as having “a mild, fruit taste with buttery flavours” which is a pretty fair description. This is another one I would happily buy a whole round of and eat like a cake. I might even stick candles in it and pretend it’s my birthday. In fact on investigation, I’ve found a website that makes cheese wedding cakes! Wow!
I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, so this would be ideal! Just need to convince someone to propose to me… Actually, the starting price for the cheese wedding cakes is about 90 quid… it might be cheaper and easier to just buy one, not get married, eat it all myself and live with the guilt and obesity. I might do it, watch this space!
4 – Reblochon
Reblochon derives from the word ‘reblocher’ which when literally translated means ‘to pinch a cow’s udder again’. Nice, huh! I discovered this French beauty lurking in an exquisite potato gratin made by my wonderful mother. It was a Jersey Royal potato gratin and although absolutely divine it is a rather expensive recipe so we don’t have it all that often. My second meeting with this creamy temptress was with shallots in a buckwheat gallette in my favourite restaurant in Dublin: Fafie’s. If you live in Dublin and havn’t been to Fafie’s, go now. Right now! I mean it, it’s the best. Anne-Sophie is the french pancake magician behind these incredible gallettes and crepes and you will often see her husband and 2 beautiful kids Sam and Charlotte around the place. They are so welcoming that you feel like you’re eating amongst the Irish/Breton family you never knew you had. Little Sam will often come over to chat and cause mischief. Last time I was there he told me he was going to Bob the Builder school. Perhaps that was wishful thinking on his part, but I wish him the best of luck with his training as a cartoon builder all the same.
Bloody hell, this blog is going off on an awful lot of tangents! So, Reblochon, very good in a gratin, on a gallette or by its sweet unadulterated self. Subtly stinky, oozy and perfect.
Next: the controversial but undeniably yummy hybrid cheese…
5 – Cambozola
(normally available in M&S and Sainsburys)
Cambozola is a cheesy bastard. Literally. It is the result of Signora Gorgonzola, Monsiur Camembert and a dirty weekend in Germany.
Cambozola is a combination of a French soft-ripened triple cream cheese (like Camembert) and Italian Gorgonzola. It was patented and industrially produced for the world by a large German company in the 1970s, though the cheese was invented circa 1900.
Cambozola is especially great on Carr’s black onion seed and rosemary nibbles. The moist, rich creaminess of Camembert with the sharpness of blue Gorgonzola is a combination made in heaven, and has got me thinking about what other cheeses could be combined: ‘Chedchego’ – a creamy but sharp combination of Cheddar and Manchego, Bried Leicester – an orange Brie with the waxiness of Red Leicester in the middle… I could go on but I’m now thinking about abominations like spray cheese, cheese strings and Dairylea Triangles and wondering if straying too far from tradition can only ends in tears, not to mention childhood obesity.
So, that is my dream cheeseboard!
Whilst researching this blog I found this excellent article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2010/jan/05/science-cheesemaking-cheese which if you’ve now developed a hunger for cheese knowledge, you should definitely check out. I also found this: www.cheeseorfont.com which is really just a very silly waste of time, but as someone who works in an office, silly time wasters are never unwelcome. I’m also very much open to new cheese suggestions. I’ll bet there cheeses out there just waiting to blow my mind, let me know your favourites please!
p.s. Please bear in mind these are my top 5 cheeseboard cheeses, I love Mozzarella more than most of my family members but it just doesn’t work well with crackers and port.