Holiday Cheese Board #2 – The Chunnel – Marcella The Cheesemonger International Guilde des Fromagers
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Holiday Cheese Board #2 – The Chunnel

The lady tells me there is a tunnel under The English Channel that connects England and France… if you ask me, that’s too darn much road underground… what happens if it springs a leak… I can tell you what happens… and it won’t be pretty… I’d rather pull a Matthew Webb, cover myself in porpoise oil and zigzag my way across… but I digress…

In honor of this travesty of good sense and the throwing of good money literally down a hole, we thought we’d design a cheese board that consists of cheeses made on both sides of the Chunnel.

Le Chatelain Camembert

Marie Harel created this sublime cheese in the late eighteenth century and it might have been called Harel had it not been for Napoleon… just like a short French guy to get in on the act and mess it up… anyway… Marie Harel’s daughter visited Napoleon in 1855 and presented him with a wheel of the cheese her mother had created. It is said that Napoleon loved it and his first question was to ask where it was made… then he declared that it would thereafter be called Camembert… I assume that Marie was long gone but rolling over when this occured… at least the small Norman town of Camembert had the good manners to erect a statue of Marie, reminding everyone of yet another travesty in which the French were involved …  But again, I digress…

Camembert is a luscious bloomy rind cheese that when ripe is as good as French cheese ever gets. It’s sweet with a hint of apple and an earthiness that pairs well with Champagne which lifts the butterfat off the palate and tickles my whiskers… just kidding… The Lady won’t allow me to drink alcohol… yet another of those human-imposed silly rules… alcohol might kill the cat and we wouldn’t want that on our souls… hey, why not just ask me???

Burough Market’s Wensleydale

This is the real deal. This is to die for cheese… Burough Market is London’s oldest food market dating back to Roman times. In its present location for 250 years, the Trustees of the market feel that all people should eat well. With this philosophy in mind, they age their Wensleydale longer than most producers and yet this cheese remains moist and not too crumbly with earthy notes to accompany its natural nuttiness.

Tomme Crayeuse

From the Savoie region of France, Tomme (which means “wheel”) Crayeuese is a relatively new creation from this region. The natural rind has some mold on it, sometimes a yellow mold that seems to only come from the Savoie region, and you probably will not want to eat it… at least you won’t if you have any brains whatsoever… but you be the judge..

Inside is a pale straw colored paste that ripens from the outside in, creating a cream line similar, but not as pronounced, as the one you find in brie.  As it ages, the cream line will develop along with a mushroom, earthy aroma. It has a pleasingly pungent citrus taste.

Sparkenhoe Red Leicester

Some English producers cryovac a young rubbery, bright orange cheese and peddle it as Red Leicester. Once you’ve had the real stuff with the natural hard rind made in the traditional manner, you know the other stuff is crap…

Sparkenhoe is made by David and Jo Clarke from raw milk using animal rennet. They follow an old recipe with the only change being to use annatto to produce the rich russet red color. In the early days of production of Red Leicester, beet or carrot juice was used to produce the bright color which signified high quality cheese. The curds and whey are gently scalded and separated, cut into blocks and stacked to release more whey. Then the curds are milled and put into molds, pressed and wrapped in cheesecloth and covered with lard. The cheese is then aged from 5 to 12 months producing a truly superior cheese. It is nutty, sweet and earthy.

Mrs. Quicke’s Clothbound Cheddar

As you may recall, one of the highlights of The Lady’s trip to the Bra Cheese Festival was meeting Mary Quicke. Mary lives in Devon with her family and 340 cows who graze for at least ten months a year, producing milk that is finer than most of what is used these days to make cheese. Mary chronicles her adventures in her blog… she’s a hoot… check it out

After being clothbound and larded, this raw milk cheese is aged for a minimum of fourteen months and when ready, it is earthy, caramely, sweet and beyond delicious… it is one of the great traditional English Cheddars and The Lady would say that even of she hadn’t met Mary…

All-in-all, the only thing lacking on this cheese board is a blue; so add Roquefort and you’ll find a perfect ending to a perfect Chunnel Cheese Board…


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