Image above: Beufort alpage cheese 2022
Guest blog by Lucy Cufflin
I am writing this from the French Alps – Courchevel to be precise – a bit of a work trip but time for some fabulous mountain hiking – so ‘Bonjour de les Alpes Francaises’…
Remember our affinage tasting a few markets ago at Chiswick Cheese Market? – if you enjoyed learning about it, what about joining us at the Affineur of the year competition final? We are the proud sponsor of the ard cheese category in the National competition to find the best ‘Affineur’.
One year ago, Quicke’s Cheddar delivered a 2 week old cheddar from their dairy to all the competitors – some are other well-known cheddar producers, some small cheesemakers and some are mongers. In that year they can have done anything they like to the cheese – washed the rind, soaked it in wine or stored it with different cheeses to allow other bacteria to influence the cheddar – there are no rules.
But on 14 June the competitors come together in London and unveil their cheese for the first time allowing the very prestigious list of judges to make their decisions and crown the winner. It is a great night for any cheese lover and a chance to rub shoulders with cheesemakers, mongers, affineurs and some pretty big fish in the world of CHEESE. There is tasting and sampling too! We will be there to keep an eye on it as sponsor but we simply love the whole atmosphere – I will update on our website but if you fancy coming along it a great evening for any cheese lover –
Tickets are available here: academyofcheese.org
Don’t forget it Father’s Day on Sunday and what better way to treat Dad than bring him along to Cheesewick to choose some special cheese. I was wondering the other day if there are cheeses more popular with men than women so we did a little straw poll amongst the cheese market crew and it seems that harder cheeses are more popular with our menfolk – I think I’ll have to investigate further to say for sure but here are the favourites of 4 of our husbands.
Smoked Red Leicester from Wood and Leg smokery is favoured by Simon – we all love the quirky and very interesting selection on this stall and the Red Leicester is a truly interesting cheese. It has a soft buttery texture, not spreadable of course, but not crumbly and the smoke is delicate so the flavour of the cheese is not lost – well worth a sample to make up your own mind.
Image above: Outside Cafe Affinage in France
Pitchfork Cheddar – well this has to be a Dad’s classic! Made by Trethowan Brothers this is top of the list for Chris. It is fair to say that Chris is not an adventurous cheese eater but knows his cheddars and he loves this beautifully balanced cheddar, moist texture, full flavours and some say a slight hint of tropical fruit – bring it on! Roi will be selling this and Gorwydd Caerphilly as usual.
Pevensey Blue is top dog for Ian. He is a blue cheese lover but he adores the earthy back notes of this cheese and just loves the creamy texture. It is strong enough to be a real winner at the end of a meal but soft enough not to frighten the faint hearted. Pevensey is the baby of Hazel and Martin Tkalez. They won supreme champion cheese at the Artisan Cheese awards in 2022. For a Dad who loves a blue this has to be a good bet for this Sunday! Fay at Big Wheel Cheese will have this one on her stall.
Phil bucked the trend for hard cheeses going for Truffle Baron Bigod. He says that you just can’t beat Baron Bigod and to then add truffles to it – one of his favourite foods – is sublime. Baron Bigod is made by Fen Farm Dairy in Suffolk using unpasteurised milk – a Brie de Meaux style cheese and a truly fabulous one at that! So if you have not tried it with Truffle then perhaps treat dad and ask for a sliver of his… If he’ll let you have some!
Image above: A seleciton of cheeses at Chiswick Cheese Market
These are only 4 and they are the choices of a few of our men but come to the market with Dad and let him taste his way along the stalls and why not let him choose his own pressie? That way you just can’t get it wrong! And then of course you need to find something for him to enjoy it with…
Vinagogo has joined our market and what a wonderful selection of wines he brought for us to try last month – we absolutely loved some of the Greek wines especially. Kevin says he has some very special offers for Sunday so pop along with Dad and make the most of those offers – let me tell you – when Kevin says he has a special offer he means it, so don’t miss out!
We hope to see you at the Affineur event – please come and say Hi – you will see us with our banner at the event, but if not see you at the next market on Sunday 18 June.
Just a quick note from the mountains… whilst out hiking yesterday I met a local cheesemaker – he is one of the twenty or so Beaufort Alpage farmers – this is small production Beaufort and the cows have to graze above 1500m so only made in the summer months and the cows have just moved up from the valley.
He is busy milking and making cheese up on the slopes but his ‘cave’ or affinage is lower down the valley and I popped in to see him today and was lucky enough to be allowed in the affinage room – rows of 1 year old Beaufort Alpage 2022 (drool) and some fabulous Tommes (about 3 months old) and an interesting blue I have yet to try.
There were some very young Beaufort only a few days old were just starting their maturation looking ghostly white compared to their 1 year old siblings. What an utter unexpected treat it was to chat to him and see first-hand his cheeses being lovingly matured to perfection.
So ‘au revoir’ from France and ‘A bientôt a Cheeswick’