Which country makes the best cheddar? This question has plagued us for millennia (possibly). But no longer, thanks to the brave and fearless scientists who gathered on a rainy afternoon to undertake some difficult and dedicated Cheese Science.
- the West Country with Montgomery’s cheddar
- Wales with Hafod
- Scotland with Isle of Mull cheddar
- Ireland with Hegarty’s cheddar
- France with Cantal
- England with Lincolnshire Poacher
(For the purposes of this competition, we’re granting independence to the West Country) (I know there are other countries beyond this little patch but I couldn’t think of one that make a decent cheddar-ish cheese that I could get my paws on at all easily SORRY THE WORLD!)
The Testing Panel
Humans: Jenn, Kat, Katie, Mark, Pete #1, Pete #2, Tim
Felines: Roswell, Atari Teenage Kitten. Feline cheese tasters don’t get a vote.
Welcome back to part 2! See here for part 1.
5.58pm. A quick beverage pH check before the next round of experiments: the acidity of prosecco is 3, Badger’s Fursty Ferret is 4, a substance known as ‘Sainsbury’s Craft Brewed Lager’ is also 4.
Over the Bank Holiday weekend your band of trusty FT regulars held (by our reckoning) the SIXTH Freaky Trigger Food Science Day, a combination of careful experiments and shockingly bad puns, dedicated to our friend and FT poster Liz Daplyn.
2pm. Scientists begin to arrive at Laboratoire Crouch Hill, carrying with them various alcoholic liquids, pastry ingredients, gothic substances and a metric fvcktonne of cheese (or at least a close approximation of cheese). Time for the first experiment!
I don’t believe that the producers of A Day At El Bulli intended it to be used as a cookbook at all; it’s weighty and too glossy to risk splattering with kitchen messes, and most of the recipes call for freezedryers, pacojets, and other high-tech gadgetry. I think they’re provided to emphasize the difference between the food you can create at home, and the laboratory creations of Ferran Adria.
But hey! We love a challenge. I flicked through the book until I found something that looked achievable with only a minimum of outlay. Spherical mozzarella! This called for nothing more exotic than some sodium alginate. Handily, there was a jar tucked away in the back of a cupboard – the remnant of a previous miserable failure at kitchen science. If you’re cooking along at home, it’s available to buy online too.
The science of this is pretty straightforward: where algin meets calcium, a gel forms. By dropping calcium-rich liquid (in this case, the blended mozzarella) into a algin solution (or vice versa), the outside of the liquid turns into a gel, and encloses the still-liquid centre. The result is a soft ball that bursts when you bite into it – a surprise mouthful of liquid flavour. Or that’s the theory.
the project: to road-test some of the fillings people have (incomprehensibly) not yet adopted
the fillings of the future:
i: mushrooms fried in pumpkin seed butter, with garlic oil and red wine
ii: fried bacon and date syrop
iii: chopped avocado and marmite
iv: spinach and ginger syrop
v: ham and gentleman’s relish
vi: brie and japanese plum sauce
vii: grated carrot and cinnamon