Le Léger de Lathuy – en underlig belgisk ost

Vår sønn har vært på klassetur til München og en av aktivitetene på turen var et besøk på en biodynamisk, multipurpose bondegård. Der var det også et stort marked og han gikk selvsagt dit for å se om det var noen spennende oster til far. Han endte opp med en belgisk hvitmuggost; Le Léger de Lathuy. Det var jo spennende siden jeg ikke har noe spesielt forhold til belgiske oster ut over dem som kommer fra området rundt byen Herve. Det er veldig gode oster, men også veldig sære i noens øyne, eller kanskje rettere smak, markante som de er. Om enn i en helt annen liga, så kan også denne Petit Lathuy Léger omtales som, om ikke sær, så i hvert fall spesiell.

Le Léger de Lathuy
Le Léger de Lathuy

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Camembert og ekte Camembert

Så er de blitt enig da, de som kjempet for å beholde Camembert de Normandie som det er og de som – les industrien – kjempet for for en oppmyking av regelverket. De sistnevnte ville nemlig også omfattes av AOP-reglene. Så hva skjedde? Jo, industrien fikk gjennomslag for sitt syn og Fabriqué en Normandie forsvinner og alle kan benytte AOP-benevnelsen. Makta rår. Dette ble det oppnådd enighet om på et møte 21. februar i år. Men altså, dette er ikke hele sannheten.

Denne varianten av Camembert forsvinner fra markedet.
Denne varianten, Fabriqué en Normandie, forsvinner.

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Copy cats

I wonder, just a little bit, though, but I still wonder how many lawyers would sit on my back if I started to make a Mac, developed some new programming and called it Office, peanut butter called Jif, and so on, along with many of the copy cats there is in the world. It’s a huge problem in the luxury goods industry. And you can never be sure a really expensive wine is not a counterfeit.

Well, I know it is a bit different, but only a bit. What I think of is, especially the Americans and copying of cheese names. But not the only the Americans, but they seem to have the less understanding why they should not freely do so.

Brie and Camembert
Brie and Camembert

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Summer blues, Devon blue

It’s summer even though it is not all that much reminding me of that particular fact. Nature is one thing, the calendar something else. So when it comes to summer cheese, the calender rules like it does for the Russian caretakers when they’re switching on or off the central heating. And regarding summer blues, Devon blue is definitely on the list. Even though it is a pasteurized cheese.

Ticklemore Cheese in Totnes have pasteurized their cheese for a long time, but since they originally started out using raw milk, this seems to be a truth that never dies. Even rather reliable cheese books states this is a raw milk cheese.

Blind tasting

In spite of all this I want to write about it, because it is good and because it was used «against» me in a blind tasting during the annual summer party of the wine society I am a member of. I did not come up with the right name. Ended up in England though, but with no name. Obviously it was none of the more famous. Retrospectively I could of course have flung out Devon, as I have been in contact with Ticklemore cheese regarding an other cheese they make. If I had done that the audience would have been stunned. Well, I did not.

A typical summer cheeses, as it is rather light. Not overcrowded by blue veins; sweetish taste with buttery tones.

The Sea Trout Inn

There is an other thing with Totnes. It is the home of The Sea Trout Inn. I have good memories from my very young days going to summer language school in Paignton. The school proprietor and wife took us to concerts and A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed in the park of Dartington Hall followed by a beer or two at the Sea Trout Inn. The fine thing about this inn was they also had proper beer, from the point og view of a young Norwegian. This proper beer was Stella Artois. Today my point of view has changed, so I would really appreciate some real ale. A real ale I do not even know if they have.

To drink

A light, slightly sweet white wine.

Appleby’s Cheshire

During my student days in Manchester I built a close relationship to british cheese. Probably not Appleby’s Cheshire, though. Mostly the industrial melt on a sandwich types, Cheshire included, but not Appleby’s. From that student perspective I brought with me the impression that british cheese is rather one dimensional. Semi firm, crumbly, with or without annatto. Well, the annatto thing I have learnt later. So wrong can I be. Britain is a cheese paradise and very diversified.

Time to visit?

It’s a shame I have not been there for years even though it is just a short flight from Oslo. Well, not quite correct, I «frequently» travel to Lerwick, Shetland, but not much time for cheese on these travels, and not that the Lerwick Tesco has that much to offer other than the very traditional. But still, I always bring home some cheese from this Tesco. If for nothing else; nostalgia. These Lerwick trips are also rather hectic and neither the Sumburgh nor Aberdeen airports are showcases for local produce.

No, what I mean is e.g. a week traveling around sampling cheese and taking in the British atmosphere and countryside in general. Pub grub and a pint of good bitter. Well, it will come.

Cheese with a history

So let’s turn to cheese and what is more natural than hitting off with the oldest there is on the isles, Appleby’s Cheshire. Cow’s milk cheese. Unpasteurized and English. Cheshire is a cheese from the county of Cheshire in the north west of England. At least originally. Bordering Greater Manchester and Merseyside if you’re anything into soccer. And Shropshire. And thats’s actually the county where the Appleby’s Cheshire is made. Near Hawkstone. In other words; a Cheshire from Shropshire. Artisan cheese from the Appleby family at the Abbey farm by the river Dee. The very last true Cheshire cheese, clothbound, unpasteurized and made by enthusiasts.

Domesday Book

This is a cheese with a history. Generally accepted as Britain’s oldest, back to Roman times, and mentioned in the Domesday Book from 1086. This Survey ordered by the King William the Conqueror. Well documented in other words. And just to really rub it in, the Appleby’s Cheshire was found in any city and town of any importance mid 1700, brought around via all the canals running through the English countryside. They knew their logistics at that time as well. And even more, the Cheese of Choice on board Admiral Nelson’s ship The Victory. Appleby’s Cheshire has won wars!

The Cheese

So what kind off cheese is it, and why this post about a cheese most people probably haven’t heard of? Well, the latter is a good enough reason in itself. More people should become aware of this cheese. If you’ve had British cheese you have probably had Cheshire. The industrial type I bet. Ixt is my personal impression that this style of british cheese has a very pronounced acidity. Not so with the Appleby’s Cheshire. And that is how it was made originally, mind you.

A semi firm cheese with a flaky and crumbly texture. Made with vegetable rennet. Comes in cylinders and the color is what I would call salmon pink due to the addition of moderate amounts of annatto. Mild, but develops more taste with age. Fantastic with ripe fresh figs or marmalade, even dates. Good on its own, as part of a ploughman’s of course. It also melts well, so it’s excellent for cooking and of course on toast.

If you are more into French cheese, it may well remind you of Cantal or even Salers. It is not unlikely the crusaders brought the Cheshire recipe to Auvergne (and even Spain) on their travels (to put it that way).

I do not know much about the distribution other than Neal’s Yard has taken it under its wings. That’s a sign of quality, by the way. So if in London, that’s a place to look for it. Further I expect any decent cheese shop sells it.

To drink

I think one of the ultimate pairings is an Appleby’s Cheshire and a mild malt whisky. Avoid the smoky ones.

A bit of cheese history

If you want to learn how it all came about, you should listen to this podcast. Takes a small hour altogether, and think it is worth it. A bit of cheese history in other words.

So of you follow this podcast link you will have an entertaining hour of listening and become cheese enlightened as well!

Even pulling apart some of the established truths about the early days of cheese making. Where it all started stands firm, though.

Enjoy your listening.

Island Cheese

I’ve been traveling. To the Shetland Islands, Scotland. Not very typical cheese land, but still. I was there for other reasons than cheese, so I did not visit the only cheese factory there is on the island, Shetland Cheese situated in Skeld, a 45-minute-drive from Lerwick.
I did take a cheese platter at the hotel where I lived, though. All pasteurized and OK but not extraordinary. Rather mild.

At the local Tesco I found White Stilton which I had never had before. I will leave that for a later occasion. Th other cheese I found was from The Orkney Cheese Company. A 200g flow pack wrapped piece of cheese. Pretty sceptical this guy, but I’ve heard cheese from the Orkney Islands is pretty good. Well, the main cheese i have heard from but never tasted is Seator’s Orkney.

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I did not taste the Orkney Mature Scottish Island Cheddar until I arrived home. And I must admit as I have tasted it over a few days it brings out more each time. The only thing I cannot find is a nutty taste that the manufacturer says it shows. I am not able to detect it.

The Story

This cheese has a special story. During the last war the Orkney Island received some 60 000 servicemen that were based on the island. After a while 550 POW arrived as well. Not so much the POW, but the 60 000 servicemen posed a food challenge. The farmers were not prepared for this, but they had to step up production rather rapidly to avoid lack of milk, meat and local produce. That worked out fine.

But eventually peace arrived and all the servicemen went home. So did the POWs. The latter left behind them a beauty of a chapel that can still be visited. The former a huge surplus of everything farmed. Long story short, a cooperative was formed and a dairy built and inaugurated in 1946. The rest i history. You can find cheese from the Orkney’s all over Britain and maybe abroad as well, I do not know.
It is pasteurized I must admit. With only 26 members of this cooperative I think it should be possible the make unpasteurized cheese. It is matured for a while as well, so the risk of contamination is rather low I would reckon. Awarded PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) in 2013, something of which they are, quite understandably, very proud.

..and cooking..

Good for cooking as well as most cheaddars, should add a fine touch to any dish.

Taste

Rather milky I would say. Creamy texture in the mouth. Mild but with a lot of body and rather long for a pasteurized cheese. Distinct saltiness, but nothing like the levels you may find in blue cheeses. Rather balanced I would say.

To drink

They make whisky on the Islands, but I am not familiar with the style. If it has too much smoke it will definitely kill the cheese. So if whisky is your preferred pairing you should look for a very mild one. Ale would pair well, I am a fan of Bitter from my student days in Manchester. Otherwise a good cup of tea.