Cheese

Cheese

By
Skye Gyngell
Contains
8 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
9781844006212
Photographer
Jason Lowe

From the beginning I knew that the cheese course would be important to me at the restaurant, I was also sure that a large selection would not be right. I’ve always preferred to choose from a small, carefully considered menu, rather than one with endless options. So for the cheese course one well-chosen cheese – served not with bread or biscuits but with natural seasonal partners – seemed perfect. I enjoy the challenge immensely. Finding the right firm, crunchy, sweet pear (Martin sec) to accompany sharp, chalky pecorino fossa for example; or autumn raspberries and a little drizzle of our local honey to partner perfectly ripe creamy Wigmore. I love the process of tasting a new cheese… pausing, thinking, often rejecting, and discussing with others in the kitchen what works. It is a question of pairing textures as well as flavours, to showcase the beauty of not only the cheese, but also its companion.

Cheese, more than any other food, holds a sense of romance for me. It is so much a product of its terrain, flora, fauna and clime, yet its unique attributes are also influenced by man. Some cheeses, like the Swiss vacherin, are purely seasonal; the characteristics of others changes with the seasons. With so many different varieties, there is a myriad of tastes, textures and aromas to experience.

I urge you to find a good cheese shop close to you, peer in through the window and see the magic inside. Try one or two cheeses you may have previously shied away from because their aroma seemed too strong or their names were unpronounceable or off-putting. Stinking bishop, for example, does smell overpowering but it is in fact a delicious complex English cheese.

When choosing cheese, look for signs that it has been respectfully handled. Each cheese is different of course, but there are certain common indicators. The cheese should not look over-handled, neither should it be oily or dry around the edges. Surprisingly, perhaps, mould on the rind of a hard cheese is often a good sign. Above all, a cheese should have a sense of freshness about it.

As for storage, this varies according to the type of cheese. I wrap hard cheeses in cling film, leaving the crust to breathe. Soft cheeses are better wrapped in waxed paper, as are all blue cheeses. Goat’s cheeses should be kept loosely covered on a plate in the fridge. Never let cheeses sit uncovered in the fridge – the cold air will dry them out horribly, and their flavour is easily tainted by other foods.

If the idea of serving a very simple cheeseboard of one beautiful cheese with harmonising partners appeals to you, then you might like to try some of the lovely pairings we have stumbled across:

Montgomery’s Cheddar with raw fennel and Cox’s Orange Pippin.

Vacherin drizzled with the tiniest hint of walnut oil and warmed in the oven along with fresh walnuts (warmed in their shells).

Fourme d’Ambert with dried white figs pickled in red wine.

Young lemony goat’s cheeses with ripe apricots and slightly warm pecan nuts.

Using cheese in cooking is another skill. To ensure that a cheese maintains its inherent flavour and texture through the cooking process requires thought and attention. Certain cheeses, including Gruyère, fontina, raclette and Comté, have a natural affinity with heat. Soft young, creamy cheeses work well in baking, but in truth, most cheeses are best enjoyed in their natural state.

Producers and suppliers who have a heartfelt connection with their products, the land and the seasons are of the utmost importance to me. I learn from them and they help me to become a better cook. Patricia Michelson, owner of the Fromagerie, sources farmhouse cheeses directly from small artisan producers. Her energy, passion and knowledge inspire me and her faultless palate always challenges mine!

Recipes in this Chapter

    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again