Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Good things to eat [Volume 13]

Here's another round-up of a few good things I've been eating recently.

Wensleydale Creamery Cheeses

I've had a long and enduring relationship with Wensleydale cheese. As a teenager trips to stay at a mate's parents caravan near Aysgarth often entailed a trip further up the dale to gorge on freebies at the creamery shop.

These were some of my earliest full-on food orientated weekends really (though I'm not sure that's quite how we saw it at the time), with fish and chips in Leyburn followed by a visit to the butcher's for ham and egg pies and slabs of belly pork to tide us over until a sturdy pub dinner and a skinful of Riggwelter. Oof. And that's before we even got to the cheese.

The last time I was there I was worried that they'd sold out to the mass-production gimmick-cheese gods (maybe they'd got Alex James in as a consultant?), there being little of interest beyond the basic Wensleydale and far too many fruity, sugary, stupid versions with bits in. Wensleydale with pineapple anyone?

This time around they seem to have had a rethink. The gimmick cheese is still there in spades, but attentions have been re-focussed on cheese for people who like the taste of cheese. I was particularly impressed by these three cheeses.

Photo credit: Wikipedia commons

Kit Calvert Wensleydale - an extra mature version that somehow manages to retain the fresh crumbly character of the young cheese while also being softer in texture and less acidic in taste. It's quite buttery and rich, and probably best eaten on its own. Or maybe with an Eccles cake or an apple.

Bishopdale - a good quality cheddar-alike, with a very smooth almost processed texture rescued by the presence of loads of little crystalline bits and a fantastic flavour. Rich and meaty, sort of like the surface of a properly cooked steak. Great in anything you'd put cheddar in I would have thought.

Coverdale - Wensleydale taken in the opposite direction to the Kit Calvert version, wonderfully bright and tart, a fresher alternative to the original. Would work well in salads in place of feta, but worth eating on it's own.

The cheese shop at the Hawes creamery has lots of free samples. You can really fill your boots and no-one seems to mind. Probably polite to actually buy some as well, which I always do these days.

Forge Bakehouse

A new bakery that's just opened on Abbeydale Road in Sheffield. I came across it completely by accident on what was actually their opening weekend. I bought a very good baguette, but need to investigate their bread further before writing about it.

What doesn't warrant further investigation, but does warrant many repeat purchases, is their pastry. A lemon meringue pie and a Valrhona chocolate brownie were an absolute delight, the pie especially so. In really skilled hands it's possible to make calorific fat and sugar laden pastries and puddings with such a deft touch it's as if you were eating delicious air.

Whoever is baking at the Forge has that level of skill. I could eat one of these pies in two mouthfuls. Two mouthfuls of burnished sticky sweet meringue, smooth tangy lemon and the shortest, most delicate pastry.

232 Abbeydale Road
S7 1FL

Raspberry Curd

Until I saw this in the gift shop at Rievaulx Abbey I'd never even considered the possibility of a curd being made from anything other than citrus fruit, but why the hell not. Any suitably acidic fruit ought to work right?

Raspberries, being the best fruit there is, make an excellent curd. The flavour is purest essence of raspberries and butter, sweetened a little. You want this on your toast, trust me.

Available at National Trust shops, but home-made would be even better. Come to think of it, how about a raspberry meringue pie?

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