I’m a sucker for cheese. It’s my absolute vice. As soon as I get the nibbles I reach for the cheese. In restaurants, I find myself pondering skipping the mains and going for the dessert and cheese courses instead. My palette has developed from the mild Cheddars and Bries to the oozy Camemberts and even the scary, smelly blues.
A cheesy regret
Once upon a time I used to organise conferences. A perk of my job was to visit all the short listed hotels and restaurants for the events I managed. One year, I forget which, the destination was to be Lake Maggiore in Italy. I had found an old villa that would cater our private dinner and travelled there with a colleague and my boss to taste our chosen menu. It was all exquisite. At the end of our meal, an elderly gentleman with a very pronounced stoop wheeled in a trolley full of cheese. I could smell it from across the room. My colleagues were salivating. I, on the other hand, was close to retching. They tasted each as I sat back appalled at mould and spores. They chose our cheeseboard and I breathed a sigh of release at a lucky escape.
I think back now with longing and regret. Perhaps if I had been alone my journey into the world of cheese would have started sooner. As it is, my blue cheese journey started with Castello. Long before I started writing about food, it was the one blue cheese which I could stomach at dinner parties and nibble at to be polite.
Cheese and drink pairing
Recently Castello invited me as their guest to L’Atelier des Chefs in London to discover my palette a little with some expert guidance from drinks expert Matt Day and the magical ‘gastronaut’ Stefan Gates.
I discovered that my favourite champagne Veuve Cliquot is perfect with Castello’s Pineapple Halo (which I have turned my nose up at on many an occasion. I also found that I am a fan of Rhubarb Pickle as long as it is served with Cheddar and knocked back with cider. Perhaps this is because Stefan’s tastebuds test placed me as a ‘supertaster’ or perhaps it’s because I don’t want another cheesy regret and was up for trying anything. Whatever the reason I had a lot of fun and learned a lot about cheese and drink pairing.
Cooking with cheese
The experience I had will be running at L’Atelier des Chefs until October. Each class will focus on crafting a cheeseboard and learning about drink pairings as well as a hands on lesson on cooking with cheese. I chose to make the Tortellini with Castello’s Creamy Blue, Walnuts and Mushrooms but added lots of herbs into the dish as I wanted a little more green for a healthier looking appearance.
Thank you to the team at Castello Cheese, to Stefan Gates and Matt Day for developing my cheese education. This homework assignment has been a delight and I look forward to more.