Some years ago I decided to apply the theory that putting brandy-inclusive dairy products into a bacon sandwich would definitely not make things any worse. This year I have taken the research a significant step further and will now be applying the theory to all recipes because this cauliflower cheese was so disgustingly delicious that people who only had a bit cold asked me for the recipe. So I’ve written it up to give the public what they want.
I don’t have a photo of it because we ate it all but just imagine something very, very majestic and golden. It has a vegetable in so you can pretend it is part of your new year regime and also brandy cream is on yellow stickers everywhere so it’s v frugal etc.
80g butter (roughly a third of a normal size pat)
5 heaped tablespoons flour
Pot of brandy cream (about 300ml)
At least a pint of milk but to be honest you’ll have to judge it as you do it
Salt and pepper
300g Red Leicester cheese
1x sharp knife
1x BIG SAUCEPAN
1x medium pyrex or similar for going in the oven
The OSP on Fulham Palace Road has had a chequered past. In its glory days it was a boxer-owned pub “The Golden Gloves” but I first knew it as The Old Suffolk Punch and there was a great, if scuffed, geezer feel to the place — my favourite work boozer. Then it went through a refurb and a phase as the (initials only) OSP just when this review in 2003 [fancyapint.com] was written. The OSP at that time was an awful, soul-destroying place. There were light-box murals of grinning early 20-somethings having a GREAT TIME, looking like low-rent Tony Stone stock photos. It was enough to make the gods of the public house weep into their ports and lemons. A wretched attempt to create a terrible West End bar in the terrible West of Hammersmith.
Thankfully that passed — if a little too slowly — and it became The Old Suffolk Punch once again. A reliable if unremarkable Greene King pub. Well I do have one remark, though I imagine it’s about Greene King food menus chain-wide: The Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding wrap with gravy (and chips). Behold:
From the menu my colleagues and I were imagining a bread wrap around slices of beef and some tiny Yorkshire puds, but it was probably the IPA getting in the way of the obvious interpretation. A flat Yorkshire pud-style batter pancake was the wrap. Brilliant. You pick it up by the batter wrap with the beef and horseradish sauce trapped inside and dip it in the bowl of gravy. NOM, NOM, and three times NOM.
Well it was new to me. This update on a classic, I can get behind. And in to my tum.
Tomme de Fleurette
A soft unpasturised cow’s cheese, made in Switzerland and bought from KäseSwiss.
A round of soft white cheese, smattered with a bright white bloom, and striped with little ridges from where it’s been sitting on racks to mature. Inside it’s soft and pliable, the colour of cream.
This cheese is fantastically milky, and melts away to in my mouth. The thin delicate rind has a slightly crumbly texture, and tastes of heather, flowers and astringent herbs. This complements the utter drippiness of the inside of this cheese, which is smooth, creamy, gently sweet and nutty, and has just a hint of cocoa to it.
My colleague Lars joins me for a cheesy lunch, and fancies something brie-ish oozing out of bread. We acquire a little wooden box of camembert from Mons – it’s the drippiest white-rind cheese they’ve got for sale today. It’s covered in a slightly patchy and uneven fuzzy white mould, and a rich, sticky orange rind peeks out from underneath this. The pale creamy yellow paste’s exposed when I cut a wedge, and while it’s not quite as oozy I’d count perfect, it’s still pretty moist.
This raw-milk, blue cows cheese is made in Nottinghamshire. I bought some from Rennet and Press, and it’s also available from Neal’s Yard Dairy.
Stichelton’s a stilton-like cheese, but made with unpasturised milk. It’s a moist cheese, pale yellow, with a deep green-blue veining that’s denser towards the centre of the cheese.
It’s gloriously rich and buttery, smooth and soft, melting in my mouth. There’s a bright rich spicy, blue taste, and some underlying caramel sweetness, and a fruityness that’s not too dense and not too tart – pears and apples, I think. Lots of toasty, smooth hazelnut flavours, and a decent, but not overwhelming, amount of salt round it out. The rind’s delicious, too – the fruit and caramel notes come to the fore out at the edges where the veining’s less intense.
Corruptible Vegan is definitely corrupted by this cheese. She hacks lumps off and eats it straight from the knife.
Cheesy woofer: When Finn smells me taking this out of my bag he spontaneously sits down in anticipation, wagging his tail with hungry glee. How can I not let him sample it? He declares it delicious, and eats even the bluest bits from the centre.
Conclusion: Delicious, and proper Christmassy, this cheese. We have another wedge of this waiting for Christmas evening and a glass or two of port.
Blue raw cow’s milk cheese, made high up on a French alp, and bought from Mons.
Lunch is a thin wedge of this odd-looking cheese. The outer third the of the cheese is blue, and further towards the center it’s a soft pale crumbly primrose yellow. There’s not much veining in the blue, as such – it’s dense and widespread enough that the cheese itself appears to be a marbled, mottled blue colour. This cheese isn’t pierced with a blue mould – instead the blue mould is left to work its way in naturally.
I start to eat this from the centre outwards. The cheese is soft and moist, with a crumbly, granular texture. It’s slightly tart and acidic, and nutty and fudgey, especially towards the rind. It tastes of bubblegum and flowers, and also wonderfully buttery. As I nibble along my slice, from centre to edge, the cheese suddenly starts to taste blue. It’s very mellow. All the sweet, tart, floral flavours of the inside are still pinging about, but with an overlay of gently spicy blue. The rind, when I reach the outside, is crumby and sandy, and not all that interesting to eat. The rest of the cheese is, though! It’s subtle and delicious, and unusual – like no other blue cheese I’ve ever tried.
Christmas cheese next week! Stilton’s the canonical choice, I believe, but what are your Christmas cheesy traditions?
Soft raw-milk cow’s cheese, made in Herefordshire and bought from Neals Yard Dairy
This is a squat little barrel of cheese, and I have half of one for my lunch. It’s got a white bloomy rind, and a pretty soft pale yellow paste; darker towards the edges. Towards the middle there’s a slightly chalky, crumbly texture.
The rind’s bitter, tasting of nettles; dark green and undergrowthy. Inside, it tastes sour and tart and salty, very creamy and with a smidge of rancid butter, There’s a green floral aftertaste – this might be the influence of the nettley rind – and just the merest hint of truffley mushroom. This cheese is delicious now, and I reckon it would be rather differently delicious in a week or two; softer and even creamier, with those hints of mushroom coming to the foreground, and a mellower caramel taste. This little cheese doesn’t get the chance to become a melting puddle of mushroom, though; it gets gobbled up in one go!
Soft unpasturised sheeps cheese, made in Berkshire and bought from Neal’s Yard Dairy.
Our slice of this cheese has a thick wrinkled white and yellow rind. Inside, the paste is slippery and silky, melting onto the paper in an oozy sticky mass. It’s salty! There are hints of bacon to this – smokey and savoury. It’s milky and fudgy, and there’s a hint of hay about the rind. I love this cheese; it’s rich and salty and soft and feels wonderfully indulgent.
Washed rind cheese, from Switzerland, bought from Kaseswiss.
My wedge of rubloz is pretty pungent, soft and squishy.The inner paste’s a pale creamy grey colour, and it’s coated in a darker biscuit-coloured rind. The rind is thick and feels crumbly. The cheese has a good strong whomph of washed-rind sockishness. Aside from that, it’s sweet and toffee-ish, mellow and creamy, a slight bit yeasty, but with a hint of bitterness underneath. There’s a bright fruity strawberry acidity that takes me by surprise, and really brightens up the cheese. Cheese-eating companion declares that this cheese looks like pie and smells like a wet dog. (He likes both pie and dogs very much.)
Sometimes I feel that I am the only one who likes the Chandos – a large Sam Smiths pub near Charing Cross station where the downstairs always feels kind of old and stuck in time, and the upstairs like a velvet throne of luxury and depraved decadence in comparison! Upstairs, I have witnessed sights that should not be seen, downstairs I am pretty much always sure that I will find sawdust on the floor. WHY this pub makes me think of a Globe-era London (are those bear baiters by the fruit machine?), I don’t really know. The stained glass makes everything shine reds and oranges (see below the jump), making yr prettier companions prettier and your beer more lustrous… (as if such a thing could ever happen to the strange unnatural beauty of a pint of lady sovereign ahem).
Perhaps it is THE MAN with THE KEG who safeguards the pub who makes it so great – (if you squint in the above picture you can see him but pub correspondants will be out with their cameras to capture his full glory soon) – plenty vicarious fun can be had in merrily eyeing the door for a minute or so. The man with the keg stands above the door, bearing the keg.
Given kegs are not very light…oOne day that keg is going fall and rain a rain of BEER on the righteous/unrighteous.