30 Dec 2014

Elbow deep in curds at the School of Artisan Food

Hair nets à go-go: making a lactic cheese
We've barely had time to pull on our wellies and natty blue hair nets at the School of Artisan Food's cheesemaking course, before tutor Paul Thomas has us emptying a churn of raw milk into a shiny steel vat.

The milk is still warm from the cows that roam the Welbeck Estate in Nottingham, where the school is based (it's also the home of top blue cheese Stichelton), so we quickly add starter cultures to kick start the cheesemaking process. 

10 Oct 2014

Flavoured cheese: anyone for Thai curry cheddar?

Earlier this year Waitrose ran a clever social media competition encouraging shoppers to come up with new ideas for flavoured cheeses, which the public then voted for online. 

The final shortlist included three cheeses: Raspberry & Pink Peppercorn Wensleydale, Carrot Cake Wensleydale and Beetroot and Horseradish Cheddar. The one that got the most votes would then be listed in Waitrose stores.

8 Sep 2014

CHEESE OF THE WEEK: Västerbottensost

Without coming over all new age, there is something beautifully holistic and harmonious when a cheese naturally matches a wine or beer made in the same area. It's hard not to get a warm fuzzy local food feeling about classic combos such as Comté with 'vin jaune' (yellow wine), which are both made in the Jura mountains, or a slice of Westcombe cheddar with a Somerset cider.  

Then there are those completely random match ups, which have nothing to do to with each other, but just work really well together.  

21 Aug 2014

Burrata: move over mozzarella

It's hard to walk anywhere in Puglia without bumping into an olive tree or tripping over a grape vine. The region's fertile plains, which stretch along the heel on the boot of Italy, are carpeted with more than 60 million olive trees and hundreds of vineyards that flourish under the baking sun. 

The resulting fruity olive oils and lusty red wines are much loved by locals, but it's a very special cheese that has become a must-have ingredient for London's top chefs. Sales of burrata – a rich, decadent cousin of mozzarella – have rocketed in the UK in recent years with the creamy 'formaggio' popping up on menus in everything from salads and risotto to pizzas and puddings.

31 Jul 2014

CHEESE OF THE WEEK: Occelli in chestnut leaves

Beppino Occelli's range of grand cheeses are
wrapped in everything from straw to tobacco leaves
Mention the words 'flavoured cheese' to a serious fromage lover and their face will usually fall into a stern look of disapproval. At the big international cheese awards, this class is generally full of products laced with cranberries, mango and curry powder and are widely dismissed (rightly in my view) as being awful gimmicks.

But as with so many things in life, you can't generalise. There are some terrific flavoured cheeses. Lynher Dairies in Cornwall is a case in point. It's nettle-wrapped Cornish Yarg is a modern British classic, while its lesser known Wild Garlic Yarg won the Flavour Added Cheese category at this year's British Cheeses Awards.