Photo Diary: Royal Bath & West Show

Photo Diary, Uncategorized

I had some cheese to review this week, but I unfortunately ate it all before I had a chance to photograph it. Therefore, here is some filler a photo diary from the recent Royal Bath & West Show – an agricultural show that, for the first time this year, incorporated the British Cheese Awards. I think they need to work on allowing the visiting public to try the competition cheese, rather than having them in a sort of plastic wrapped museum format, but I concede that I know nothing of the logistics that go into such an undertaking (1,000 + cheeses sent in for judging). That said, feels like there are tricks being missed. But it is only the first.

Mix of Somerset gentlefolk at Bath & West

Mix of Somerset gentlefolk at Bath & West

British Cider Championships held at Bath & West. Apparently, Bob Chaplin, of Doulting near Shepton Mallet, took the Fruiterers' Trophy for the Supreme Champion British Cider, for his Broadpool Cider dry. "This is the pinnacle", Bob said. "To have won the very first British Cider Championships is the high point of my cider-making career. There can't be any greater honour."

British Cider Championships held at Bath & West. Apparently, Bob Chaplin, of Doulting near Shepton Mallet, took the Fruiterers’ Trophy for the Supreme Champion British Cider, for his Broadpool Cider dry. “This is the pinnacle”, Bob said. “To have won the very first British Cider Championships is the high point of my cider-making career. There can’t be any greater honour.”

Bit of a rip off, if you ask me

Very nice, bit of a rip off

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Cider judging. I know a bloke what can knock you up one of those purple badges for a fiver.  Go to car park C, ask for Geoff.

Mighty cider selection available at the bar

Mighty cider selection available at the bar. “I’ll have an ‘alf of the Barn Owl, please, stout yeoman of the bar.”

Cider makers showing demonstrating how it's done

Cider makers demonstrating the traditional ways

Not very popular band, although I thought they sounded fine

The die hard fan

"Mm, do you have a bag with a dog on?"

“I’m looking for something very specific: a photograph frame for a portrait of a horse with a lime green border. I’ve looked everywhere, I’m at my wits end – can you help?”

Prize pigs doing what they do

Prize pigs

Prize cow

Prize cow

Look at the size of this!

Look at the size of this!

More prize livestock.

“Mm, good hooves…”

Clearly the owner is no fan of Keira Knightley

Clearly no fan of Keira Knightley

Another delicious, I mean, handsome looking beast

Another delicious, I mean, handsome looking beast

Buffing the undercarriage

Buffing the undercarriage…

The Conquering Cheddar: Quickes Vintage Cheddar from Devon. Congrats to Mary Quicke! It's a shame they didn't have time to truck some up to the show as the results are known only the night before.

The Conquering Cheddar: Quickes Vintage Cheddar from Devon. Congrats to Mary Quicke!

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Reserve Champ: Humming Bark by Carrigbyrne Cheese… intriguing little fellow

The King of Kings: Rosary Garlic & Herb by Rosary Goats Cheese - I'll be getting medieval on its ass pretty soon and no mistake.

The King of Kings: Rosary Garlic & Herb by Rosary Goats Cheese. Release the hounds.

 

Living for the Weekend Cheese: Tymsboro

Living for the Weekend Cheese

tyms1Cheese, like people, comes in many different shapes. However, unlike cheese, society seems to be fixated on a particular ideal shape, whereas cheesemakers employ numerous shapes in their craft and not all that are ideal. When cheese eaters consume too much cheese, they tend to also share a particular same shape, which is perhaps not society’s ideal. But it is the cheese eater’s ideal to be eating cheese, and as cheesemakers aren’t fussy about shape, then it’s best to consume both product and associated ideology, relax, and loosen your belt.

This message was paid for by Type 2 Diabetes.

I’ve written about Tymsboro before, but as anyone who has eaten Tymsboro will tell you, you can’t have too much of a good thing. In these pictures is the creamy fresh version rather than the aged, way goatier Portrait of Dorian Grey variety that you can also pick up. The pictured is like goat’s cheese ice cream, cool and clean – a lemony, almondy siren song to the tastebuds.IMG_4509tymsTiny-2

Tymsboro is named for Timsbury, a village not far from Bath, where it and other cheeses are made on Sleight Farm by the just and wise Mary Holbrook. Holbrook was one of the lynchpins of the UK’s 70s artisan cheese recovery. Ditching her gig as an archaeologist, she toured Europe unearthing mad cheese skillz instead ( the farmhouse ways had been lost in much of Blighty at this time).

Tymsboro’s shape reflects Holbrook’s travels. In Valençay, central France, the Frenchies have been churning out truncated pyramidal cheeses till the goats come/came home. Indeed, according to this Neal’s Yard Dairy write up, Holbrook scored the recipe that forms the basis of Tymsboro from a ‘cheesemaker’s bible’ while at a “goat conference in Tours”.

There doesn’t seem to be a practical reason for the shape of these cheeses, however, there’s a story concerning Napoleon of which various versions are told. Conflating two sources, apparently the diplomat Talleyrand had a pyramidal goat’s cheese made for Napoleon during his Egypt campaign. After the campaign went south, either Talleyrand flattened the top himself so as not to bum out Napoleon on his Valençay visits or Napoleon did it himself with his sword (got to be pretty hammered to attack the cheese course, but we’ve all been there).

Next week: Bath & West fun and games…

Dates for the Dairy – Somerset Cheese Festivals

Dates for the Dairy, Event cheese

No cheese this week –  instead, the promise of cheese. The Somerset cheese festival programme is slated (see what I did there?) to begin this Saturday. Grab your chutney, statins, sun hats and cagoules, and get involved.

A5-BETTER-WILD-CHEESE-FLYER-2014-2The Second Westcombe Wild Cheese + Beer Festival

Westcombe Dairy and the Wild Beer Company’s promotional material promises “Beer & Cheese & Food & Other Things”. Other Things translates to coconut shys to support the local cricket team, live music, and cheese and beer pairing/tasting classes. They’re launching two new Wild Beer Co. beers, and the dairy will be putting about its stellar unpasteurised cheddar alongside a couple other of its masterfully crafted artisan cheeses. In the event of a light shower or two, there’s cleverly a marquee.

The 151st Royal Bath & West Show

The UK’s “biggest” cider competition; the country’s “finest” livestock; and the new home of The British “Cheese” Awards. Wham Bam Thank You Farmland.

Somerset Cheese, Cider and Moozic Festival

Promises 25 different local ciders; over 30 Somerset produced cheeses; camping; dogs welcome; cheese & cider games “like no other”. Bands include Joey the Lips; Sound of the Sirens; Wille & The Bandits; and The Mangled Wurzels known for such agriculturally flavoured hits as “I Can Drive a Tractor” (see below).

Any festivals I’ve missed for May/June in Somerset, please let me know in the comments section.

Next week: back to cheese

Cheeses call spring: seasonal cheese suggestions

Seasonal Cheeses
This was taken last summer

This was taken last spring

Well, some say spring is here, but if it was really here would I be typing in fingerless gloves beneath a blanket? We look to other signs: the spring equinox has passed (20th March), and cheesemaking blogger Mary Quicke has decreed that spring only arrives when grass growth outstrips her cows’ appetites… which apparently should be around now. As her Devon fields aren’t visible from my North Somerset sofa, we could go with the equinox. But spring is more than just longer days, as a deep feeling poet such as e. e. cummings enlightens:

[in Just-] – e. e. cummings

in Just-
spring          when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman
Let’s run with the equinox. Or, better: the arrival of long-awaited springtime cheeses infused with the optimism of the gambolling lambs and tumbling kids from whose eager suckling mouths we’re diverting all this nourishing, life-giving liquid known as milk for something to go with our crackers and stout. Here’s a few that I’ve been obsessing over through the wet winter months:
Tymsboro

Made near Bath by Mary Holbrook – one of the pioneers of the UK artisan cheese renaissance that we currently find ourselves Mary's goatsenjoying – Tymsboro is a pyramidal goat’s cheese similar in style to the French Valençay (no coincidence: Holbrook learned her craft back in the 70s by travelling Europe and picking up tips). The unpasteurised cheese is coated in grey ash, and starts creamy and light before getting richer towards the dense centre. According to the World Cheese Book, it tastes of almonds and lemon. Fiona Beckett calls this cheese, “A modern British classic“. Also see: Cerney Pyramid. (pic above: Mary’s goats on Sleight Farm, Timsbury (the town for which the cheese is named)

St. James

With thanks to Gourmet Britain for this St. James image.

With thanks to Gourmet Britain for this St. James image.

While the majority of my cheese intake involves cow’s milk cheeses (cheddar lover, year round supply), some of my favourite cheeses are made from sheep’s milk (or the faintly ridiculous tag of “ewe’s milk”), such as Manchego, Berkswell, Ossau-Iraty. However, St. James, a previous winner of the James Alridge Award for Best Unpasteurised Cheese of the Year (2005), is rumoured to stand alone, to be quite unique on these shores. And by unique, I mean to say it has a flavour reminiscent of bacon (McDonald’s has probably been trying to perfect this for years). The texture, from the picture, looks like Tallegio, but apparently it can be crumbly and creamy. It’s available from Cartmel Cheeses and Neal’s Yard Dairy, however having been informed it was available at the start of March, it may have already sold out… cursed Maccy Ds.

Ticklemore

The only pasteurised cheese on this list, Ticklemore makes the cut due to its provenance and obvious popularity. The creation of Robin Congdon (another pioneer in the Mary Holbrook mold), it’s now made at Sharpham Estate in Devon by cheesemaker, Debbie Mumford. Again the World Cheese Book’s extra-sensory palette comes up trumps, describing the flavour profile of this UFO-shaped cheese as “herbaceous with a hint of marzipan”.

Next week: a goat’s cheese with a ghoulish exterior, but an interior like seventh heaven…

Living for the Weekend Cheese: Rachel

Living for the Weekend Cheese

Rachel

Rachel is a washed rind semi-hard goat’s cheese made by White Lake Cheeses, Bagborough Farm, Somerset.

The name was a wooing tactic. It didn’t work. White Lake has a habit of giving cheeses girlish names: another cheese is called Katherine, after the Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins. And there’s a third called L’il Eve which you’ll be relieved to learn is a shortening of ‘Evolution’ rather than anything to alert Operation Yewtree about.

They do good work at Bagborough. I’ve never been a big fan of goat’s cheese, but Rachel’s very tasty. A gateway goat. Subtle, mild, nutty, creamy. Didn’t last long.

Buy from:

http://www.thecheeseshed.com/products/cheese/goat/item/rachel

http://www.paxtonandwhitfield.co.uk/index.php/rachel.html

http://www.finecheese.co.uk/rachel.html