Good Afternoon Cheesy1’s,
Last weekend Emma & Myself went to Somerset to partake in some retail therapy at Clark’s Shopping Village in Street, Glastonbury. We of course stayed in the Wookey Hole hotel for a night in the Witches Hat no less, which was a very comfortable stay and is as always a brilliantly clean & well-presented hotel. On Sunday we made our way to Clark’s village and as we were wondering around what should be there but a Mediterranean food market with of course cheese! I ended up trying several cheeses from mild & soft but what stuck out was this extremely hard & mature cheese. Now I have to confess that I didn’t catch the name of it and have been trying desperately to remember so please forgive me, I will of course do my best to describe it to you.
Lets start with appearance and as you can see its old! I would say judging by the golden/brown outlines near the rind I would put its age between 20-30 months matured, it has similarities in its look & texture to an Old Winchester but is a lot drier. The outside rind has a slight mould but that looks to have appeared after it was taken out of maturation during its lifespan of being sold. It has faint stripes marking from the mould when it was pressed. On the piece I have there are no signs of maker markings, codes etc. and it has an ever so slightly greasy feel so either it has been coated in something to protect the cheese or it is seeping fat from the cheese itself. The core of the cheese is speckled with calcium lactate crystals but with a cheese this mature that is to be expected. The colour is golden with multiple lines, cracks & splits where it has been cut and is breaking apart due to the lack of moisture. I performed a judging technique where you use your thumb & finger to warm the cheese up in the palm of your hand to get the best flavour. I know your Mum told you not to play with food but honestly try it, because you will get flavours from the cheese that are normally locked away after being chilled.
In the picture above you can see it has become almost powdery like Parmesan from a shaker and has become lighter in colour with a fluffier appearance. It looks different to the cheese I started with and it tasted stronger as well. Which brings me on nicely to the taste of the cheese and it starts with a dry strength similar to a good Parmigiano but I think has a more pleasant flavour. It gives you a hint of an acidic note but that disappears really quickly into a more nutty & ever so slightly creamy taste which is unusual in fact, because this cheese being the age it is makes you salivate for more. This can be attributed to the fact the milk that is used is of a high quality & is fresh when the cheese is made. The finishing flavours leave a mild nuttiness and buttery mouth feel and I think that this cheese was developed as a table cheese because you can quite imagine walking past nibbling pieces from the table, as I was writing this it was decreasing in size rapidly! I personally prefer this cheese to eat over other hard Italian cheeses and yes I do eat Parmigiano without an accompaniment just imagine eating pineapple and you will be okay! I wouldn’t replace it with Parimigiano but it is as good as and another thing is that the quality & time that the cheese makers put into this cheese can be tasted and seen in the appearance. It really is a shame about the name and I will keep researching but as a serving suggestion I would add it into dishes such as pasta with pancetta and creamy mushroom sauce or grated on top of a baked pasta dish such lasagne for a lovely cheesy crust. Italy certainly produces some wonderful foods & cheeses and this at the moment is one of the highlights for me with a summer sunset some Parma ham, a glass of red and some nameless cheese would could be better.
If any of you stumble upon this cheese or know its name please comment below as I would love to know it.
Have a brilliant week,