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Sunday, 10 August 2014

Smile for the camera Ted ....

Neal's Yard Dairy
It was the most polysyllabic and microbe enriched tasting I have been to in a very long time. Neal’s Yard Dairy started way back in 1979 and today is the UK’s top retailer of artisanal, mostly British and Irish, cheeses. I went off to try out one of their cheese tastings, upstairs at the dairy in Borough Market. The erudite Francis Percival of fine wine and food magazine editing was our host and tutor.

There were eight cheeses matched with five wines. The cheeses were chosen as they were representative of cheeses at their best in summer. It was, not unexpectedly, dominated by goats and sheep’s milk cheeses, with the odd notable cow’s milk exception (Kirkham’s Lancashire, worthy of singling out, anytime, anywhere really).  We tried fresh goats cheeses with champagne and a German Riesling, stronger cheeses with an amazing Manzanilla sherry, and a Rose and a sparkling Moscato with the rather robust and gutsy washed rind cheeses at the end.

Francis really engaged us by telling us about the cheese makers. It seemed to me that the cheeses all had one thing in common – they were representative of the personalities, passion, and idiosyncrasies of their very much human makers. Luckily they all seemed like very nice people!!

Cheese has been around for centuries. One of the earliest and most consistently recorded English cheeses is Wensleydale, appearing regularly in texts from the 1600s. All cheese needs a setting agent like rennet to transform from plain old milk. Francis told us (and being an ancient historian of course we believed him) that one year, for whatever reason, they couldn't get the usual rennet needed to make the Wensleydale cheese, so they used the local black snails, as they had they right enzymes to make the milk set …

... anybody else feel a bit shell shocked ....


7 comments:

perambulatingphotographer said...

Neil's Yard is a great place for photographers. Very colourful.

jabblog said...

What a fabulous outing - mouth-watering. I love Neal's Yard - always a treat to visit.

William Kendall said...

That's a whole lot of cheese!

Jack said...

An excellent and learned post, Mo and Ted. The two of you get invited to very fine events.

Angie said...

Very fine post, Ted. I wonder does it have to be BLACK snails? Can only find brown ones!!! I love my cheese.

John said...

There's something so much more pleasing about a cheese in that state, rather than 'supermarket wrapped'.

westendmum said...

Har har very good! Although what rennet is actually made from is more shocking than snails. What a fab outing, cheese and wine, my favourites. Lovely post.
WEM
x

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