Issue No. 11 - July/August 2000
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The Work Behind
Cheese and Good Health
London Marathon Success
Only 10% of Emmental is Swiss
'Paint a Picture' competition winner
Tools of the Trade:
Welcome to the 11th Issue of 'The Teddington and Kew Cheese Wire',
an issue full of cheesy news and information. Also, a summer greeting to
our latest Restaurant and Hotel customers who may be receiving our newsletter
for the first time.
We invite you to discover Chris Duckett's Caerphilly,
one of the most respected British farmhouse cheeses. Also in this issue
we pay a visit to a couple of our suppliers and find out how hard they
are working to produce some of your favourite cheeses.
Now that summer is here, an exciting cheeseboard is
the easy answer to your entertaining problems. Half a dozen cheeses together
with some crunchy biscuits or bread and a selection of pickles and fruit
(try pears, figs, fresh dates and big slices of watermelon) takes care
of the food. All you have to do is open some wine and help yourself to
your favourite cheeses.
'Paint a Picture' competition winning entry
by Shio Eguchi of Hampton Hill, Middlesex. Aged 7 years.
In the Comté cellar we tasted "plugs" from 3 different cheeses, at 6 months,
12 months and 17 months of maturity. As the cheese ages its paste becomes
denser as the moisture gradually evaporates, and the flavour intensifies.
Anyone who has tasted a really mature hard cheese will know that it can
be almost "crunchy".
Above: Many cheeses are sent
to our own maturing rooms when semi-ripe. Care for the final maturation
is then passed onto our head cheesemongers, Orlando Gibson and Ed Williams.
Above: Petit Langres are never
turned during ripening which produces a sunken top.
Above: Cheeses kept on the lower shelves are
protected with tarpaulins while the cellar floor is hosed down to keep
the atmosphere humid. While we posed for this photo our feet were getting
WORK BEHIND THE SCENES
Regular customers and readers of this
newsletter will know how much we value our suppliers. In fact they are
often mentioned by name on our cheese cards and on our web site. A great
many of our cheeses are bought directly from the farms where they are made,
so when we place an order we usually get a chance to discuss the cheese
with the person who makes it. This helps us learn how to bring out the
best in the cheese as well as equipping us to answer your questions.
As more and more people discover the
superior flavour of traditionally-made food, cheese is a great example
of how small-scale production can create something that not only tastes
far better than its mass- produced counterpart but is also about as simple
and unprocessed as food can get.
This simplicity and integrity is very
much in evidence when we visit the farms where our cheeses are made. At
Greenacres farm in East Sussex, Kevin Blunt milks his own goats which have
grazed in his own fields before his wife Alison adds the rennet and a dash
of salt to make their award-winning Golden Cross cheese. Despite the short
list of ingredients, the Blunts produce a cheese of exceptional texture
and flavour thanks to the quality of their milk and their skills as cheesemakers.
Having visited them at work and seen for ourselves the discipline and judgment
that goes into making the cheese, we treat it with the utmost respect when
it arrives at our shops to be matured.
When it comes to excitement and sheer
variety, French cheeses are second to none, and this is based not only
on centuries of cheesemaking tradition but also on an instinctive feel
for good ingredients which is at the core of the French palate.
We recently visited one of our French
cheese suppliers who buys cheese from small farms all over France and matures
them in his cellars near Lille. The array of cheeses in his premises reflects
the diversity of the French regions; with separate cellars devoted to Comté,
Mimolette, Epoisses and an astonishing range of goats cheeses, all of which
are inspected daily as no two cheeses reach maturity in the same way or
at the same time. Humidity and temperature are strictly monitored, and
traditionalists insist that the bacterial cultures resident in a really
well-seasoned cellar have a unique part to play in the flavour of these
While our own maturing rooms may not
yet be 100 years old, we do try to see as many cheeses as we can in their
'native' environment and to learn whatever we can about the process that
makes a farmhouse cheese taste so special. We always aim to offer you the
best in terms of variety and flavour, and to keep learning so as to do
justice to the hard work and talent of the cheese makers whose produce
we all enjoy so much.
Cheese and Good Health
Customers ask us every day how we are able
to resist the temptation to eat our cheese and not pile on the pounds.
The answer is that we can't resist them. In fact, we have to taste each
and every cheese to be sure they are ready and at their best. There are
few better and more sociable meals than a good cheeseboard with biscuits
or bread and even after spending years as cheesemongers this never fails
to excite us.
Tony Parkes says 'As
all good nutritionists will tell you, it's all about getting the balance
right. Our bodies need energy, vitamins and minerals and these are found
not only in fruit, vegetables, pulses and other 'healthy' foodstuffs but
also in those we consider naughty - chocolate, cakes and, of course, cheese.
A good balance of all these foods together with regular excercise allows
us to enjoy our cheeses.' Toby Gibson continued 'Finding excercise which
suits you is important. I run and also cycle into work every day - it is
not only good for me but it is also quicker, cheaper and less stressful
than using a car. In fact, in our Kew office, three out of four staff have
abandoned their cars in favour of cycling.'
London Marathon Success
Three cheesemongers, Orlando
Gibson, Tony Parkes and Toby Gibson from The Teddington Cheese completed
the London marathon this year. Orlando Gibson said after the race 'I was
overwhelmed by the amount of genuine support from the spectators on every
part of the route. Despite total exhaustion, blisters and an inability
to talk coherently for an hour or so after the race, I had a great day
and can't wait to do it all again next year!! '
Chris Duckett, Walnut Tree Farm, Wedmore, Somerset
This stalwart of Welsh cheeses has been made since the
middle of the 19th Century and originated in small farms close to the town
of the same name. It rapidly grew in popularity with the Welsh miners.
It was already known that cheese absorbs the toxic substances inhaled in
the mines, and cheddar was a popular choice. Caerphilly however became
an instant hit, its fresher flavour and softer texture making it more palatable
'down the pit'.
Early in the 20th Century, with the advent of steam
trains, Welsh farmers found that they could export their milk directly
rather than making it into cheese. This was more profitable. The gap was
filled by cheddar makers across the Bristol Channel in Somerset. They found
that Caerphilly had a much shorter maturing time of a week to ten days.
There was therefore no lag between the start of the season and cheese production.
During World War II, production of Caerphilly and all
other cheeses except cheddar, was restricted to that which was intended
for personal consumption. This hit Welsh cheese makers particularly hard
and the recovery after the war took several decades.
Our Caerphilly is made in Wedmore, Somerset by the Ducketts.
It is made to a family recipe that has been handed down through three generations.
Chris Duckett still uses traditional equipment such as the double Victorian
cheese presses. He uses milk from specific local farms situated on the
peaty soils of Tealham and Tadham Moor.
The whole cheese is approximately 4kg in weight, and
is made in a four hour process. The rind is formed by brining for 24 hours
after pressing, and is then dried and whitened with rice flour. The cheese
is ready to eat within a week of being made.
Caerphilly is a moist, crumbly cheese with a pale-coloured
paste. It has a slightly sour but buttery flavour and a sharp, but not
overpowering smell. Made from unpasteurised cows' milk using vegetarian
rennet, it is a full fat cheese with a fat content of 48%.
£1.22 per 100g (£1.38 per quarter) at The Teddington
Cheese and The Kew Cheese
Cheese Sablé Biscuits
These light cheese biscuits make
a great accompaniment to pre-dinner drinks. You can use all kinds of cheese
but strong hard cheeses will give the best flavour.
100g (~4oz) plain flour
100g (~4oz) butter at cool room temperature
100g (~4oz) grated cheese (Mature Cheddar, Parmesan, Cantal or Gruyère)
salt and pepper
1 beaten egg
1.Rub butter into sifted flour.
2.Add cheese and seasoning.
3.Squeeze mixture gently to bring it together.
4.Roll out until 6mm (¼ inch) thick.
5.Cut out into your preferred size and shape and be sure to use all the
trimmings and off-cuts!
6.Beat egg with a fork and brush onto biscuits as a glaze.
7.Dust lightly with cayenne pepper
8.Bake at 180ºC gas mark 5 for 10-15 minutes or until pale golden brown.
10% of Emmental is Swiss!
Swiss cheeses are made using raw milk from small farms
which take their milk twice a day to their local cheesemaker. The traditional
methods and recipes combined with the excellent milk ensures cheeses of
the highest quality. Today, only 10% of Emmental is actually made in Switzerland
and unfortunately, much of the non-Swiss Emmental falls short of the original
We have been working closely with the 'Swiss Cheese
Dairy' to help raise awareness of traditional Swiss cheeses, of which
there are now over 450 varieties. At a recent show (BBC Get Cooking Show
at Olympia, London) we exhibited several of these including the creamy
Fribourgeois, the hard Sbrinz (used like Parmesan) and Appenzeller, Tête
de Moine and Tilsiter. You will have another chance to taste and buy these
fine cheeses at the BBC Good Food show at the NEC, Birmingham between
the 29th November and the 3rd December. It would be great to see some
of our mail-order customers at the show.
Left: Promoting traditional Swiss cheeses at
the BBC 'Get Cooking' Show at Olympia, London in June 2000
When presented with the
rectangular blocks of cheese in supermarkets, we tend to forget what a
whole cheese looks like. Real cheese comes in a wonderful range of shapes
and sizes, from pyramids and logs to 130kg Emmentals. For most cheeses
the shape is determined by the mould into which the curds are pressed.
The first evidence of cheese
moulds comes from Columella in the 1st Century AD, who wrote of curdled
milk being transferred to rush or osier baskets. As soon as the curds became
firm, weights were placed on the filled baskets to force out the whey.
Osier baskets were soon to be used in Great Britain and still used by some
soft cheese makers. The problems with this type of mould is that they are
very difficult to keep completely clean. For this reason most contemporary
moulds are made from wood, metal or plastic.
Although the great variety
of cheese moulds makes it difficult to give a general description, they
all share one major feature. That is, sufficient drainage to allow the
whey to escape, leaving just the curds. For this reason, some cheese makers
have found that colanders make the ideal cheese mould. For example, Ticklemore
is moulded between two Woolworths colanders.
In most cases the curds
are placed into cloth-lined moulds and then pressed. Obviously the degree
of pressing depends on the type of cheese required. Hard, close-textured
cheeses such as Cantal are pressed 3 or 4 times to remove as much liquid
as possible, whereas soft goats' cheeses are just lightly pressed once.
Many of the soft disc shaped cheeses like Ardrahan are pressed in cylinder
shapes, then cut into discs at a later stage.
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