24
Dec
09

Episodes 16 & 17: British Cheesefreak

Halo Lads and Lassies!  So I was fortunate enough to be able to visit my Bro (Eric) and Sis-in-Law (Claire) in lovery England recently, and of course we HAD to track down some cheese.

Fortunately Claire had already staked out a cheese shop ‘Yellow Wedge’ right near their house in St. Margaret’s in London!

St. Margaret’s is right near Richmond (home of Mick Jagger), which is near Kew Gardens…it’s right on the Thames about 45 min from the center of London, and simply a kick-arse part of the city.  It’s so beautiful, historic and actually quite posh.

There was so much to see I had to make two videos – one where we’re getting the cheese and another where we eat it.  We went to Yellow Wedge first – they were fantastic and gave the longest and best descriptions we’ve ever had on the show – AND they gave me a written description for each cheese- that was very cool and kicks the butt of any American shop (sorry USA)!  Then we were over in Richmond at a farmers market and found some other cheese…

I couldn’t help but drop in some footage of my nephew Sammy too.  He’s such a great kid.

In this second vid, Claire is filming and Eric, Sammy and I are joined by Claire’s sister Stella, and her hubby.

Here’s what we devoured:

1. Wigmore – this is a young sheep cheese – or ‘ewe’ cheese ( I have to admit I forgot that the British call sheep – ‘ewe’ – I didn’t understand what the person at Yellow Wedge was saying at first – same language, world’s apart I guess :)) made in the village of Spencer’s Wood in the Berkshire region of England by Anne Wigmore.  The ‘Barkshire’ region as they say it, is the home of  Winsor Castle, so this must be quite a fancy pants town, although you’d never know it given how the British don’t show off.
Wigmore constantly wins gold medals at the British Cheese Awards (oh my god – there’s a cheese awards, I must go – you can only imagine how hilarious this is, in a good way!).  According to YellowWedge “Wigmore has a complex fruity flavor and a clean fresh finish which complements its velvety silky texture.”  It was pretty darn tasty, and I can see the fruity thing.
2. Sparkenhoe Red Leicester – This is a cow cheese that is the last traditionally handmade cloth-bound Red Leicester cheese in Leicestershire.  Sparkenhoe Farm is near Market Bosworth in Leicestershire, and they’ve been making the cheese since 1740.  Looks pretty darn charming there:


This cheese is made by David and Jo Clarke.  It has a very red interior which is done with organic dye.  It’s made in a similar way to cheddar.  Supposedly it has a sweet mellow nuttyness.  We all thought it was a snore.

Sorry Leicestershire.
3. Colston Bassett Stilton.  This is a muy excellente blue cow cheese.  As we’ve covered before on this blog – this is one of the few name protected cheese in England, so it’s worth spending a bit more time on given this is the British episode :).
General stuff on Stilton: This cheese was popularized at the Bell Inn on the Town of Stilton even though it was made nearby in Melton Mowbray, so it ended up being named after where most people ate it (oh hell no!).  Originally the cheese was only made on farms, but because it was so time consuming to make – a lot of the farmers joined forces and started making them at bigger dairys.  The one we had was so good and it was rich and spicy and also kinda walnutty.
It’s a big mo fo too:
Some stuff from the Colston Bassett Dairy: The village of Colston Bassett lies near the Nottinghamshire/Leicestershire border, in an area known as the Vale of Belvoir. Many villages in this area had small Stilton dairies in the nineteenth century, most of which have now disappeared.  Colston Bassett & District Dairy Limited was built in 1913, funded by a group of local milk producers, and other local people. It was built specifically to make Stilton Cheese, a local specialty made in farmhouses in the area.  The dairy is damn pretty:
Plus – crazily enough, my 2 year old nephew couldn’t get enough of this stuff, he kept coming back for more and more blue cheese – at 2!

4. Roquefort Carles – ‘ewe’ blue. ok ok so we did get one French cheese while we were there.  This stuff is the BOMB. 

It’s strong but so freakin good. Can’t  believe we’ve never had it on the show before.  It’s supposedly the ‘world’s most famous cheese. ’

From Yellowwedge “Roquefort has been made for centuries exclusively in the Aveyron district of south central France.  Unlike other blues, it is not pierced, rather the blue develops in the open texture to give a pronounced flavor.”   This is one of those world famous crazy protected cheeses that cheesenerds just love.  There are only 7 producers of this cheese in the world.   This one is actually worth typing up a bit from the ‘world cheese book’ about:

Supposedly this cheese is 2000 years old (it predates recorded history) and it has been name protected since 1411 when Charles VI signed a charter granting the rights for certain folks to make it. The cheese is matured in these stunning limestone 4-5 level deep caves:

The cheese is matured on its own without molds or shelves.  It is supposedly the most intensely flavored cheese after Spanish Cabrales (check out how intense that was in episode).  The Carles brand is supposedly one of the best.  I could go on and on as people tend to gush over this cheese.  Just type Roquefort in google. We loved this cheese – strong but so darn tasty!

A quick thanks to all the family in England – it was hella-fun doing this with all of you 🙂

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