Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wild Garlic Yarg and Old Remeker

A couple of other good cheese discoveries this month, the first being Wild Garlic Yarg. Normally Yarg, as I've mentioned before, is wrapped in nettles but this, as the name indicates, is covered in wild garlic leaves which suffuses it with a delicate but unmistakeable flavour of garlic. Oddly it also has a slightly more supple texture than the nettle version - I don't know if that's because the leaves have a higher moisture content or because of the ripening technique. A really nice summer cheese anyway.

By complete contrast you should try Old Remeker a Dutch cheese made in the style of an Old Gouda which I tasted at Paxton and Whitfield the other day. It's hard and crystalline in texture - quite similar to an aged Parmesan but with a rich, fruity flavour. Really superb

I'm now off on holiday for a couple of weeks so won't post unless I come up with an exciting cheese find. Enjoy the rest of August . . .

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Canary Islands cheese

Did you know they produced cheese in the Canary Islands? No? Well, as a matter of fact I did but only because I was involved in the judging for the World Cheese Awards last year when a Canary Island cheese Queso Arico from the Sociedad Canaria de Formento won the top prize.

I recently had the chance to taste a whole lot more thanks to Signe Johansen, one of the students who contributed to my new student cookbook, whose family has a holiday home on Lanzarote and who was studying the island’s cheeses for her MA. She brought back a selection from a producer called Finca de Uga which I thought were really impressive. Full flavoured and tangy despite looking deceptively smooth and mild. Most, interestingly, seemed to have a washed or rubbed rind.

I have to confess my Spanish is almost non-existent so I don’t know if I’ve made sense of the labels and descriptions but here’s what I thought of them and a couple of suggested wine pairings

Washed rind goat. Crumbly white centre - quite strong, salty, tangy - almost Roquefortish without the blue. It went particularly well with a delicious honeysuckle-sweet wine Signe also brought back: Diego Semi-Dulce from Bodega Stratus (10.5%)

Provenzal (Silver in the 2008 World Cheese Awards in Dublin)
Washed rind cows cheese - between semi-soft and semi- hard in texture. Full, fruity, coated in herbs: rosemar and wild oregano?. Tangy. Good with an Argentine Malbec (Dona Paula), Can imagine would work with Spanish reds like Rioja too.

Raw Jersey cows milk. Won a Gold in last year’s World Cheese Awards. Semi-soft, supple paste. Mild, mellow but far from bland. Very nice supple texture. Again Malbec worked well as did amontillado sherry.

Semi-hard goats cheese rubbed with quite smoky pimenton. Very white. Tangy. Gorgeous with the Stratus Diego

Raw cows milk cheese - almost cheddar-like taste and consistency, only slightly paler. More crumbly than the other cheeses though looked from the exterior like a Gouda. Again good match with the Malbec

Panuela de Uga
Gold in 2008 World Cheese Awards: very tangy, slightly smoky, Very good texture - firm, smooth, semi-hard. Very good with Stratus Diego

Unlabelled cheese
A small ball of what tasted like sheeps cheese but was probably goat - very salty and tangy. Rubbed in black pepper. Quite hard. Overwhelmed the sweet wine but great with cream sherry

Unfortunately none of these cheeses is yet available in the UK but it can only be a matter of time. There are plenty of Spanish and Portuguese cheeses on the shelves of good cheese shops now.

Signe's photo of one of the very appealing Finca de Uga goats!