Tonight was the return of Homage 2 Fromage, Leeds' own cheese club, a monthly get together of cheese-fiends looking to get a big dairy hit*. Since it's inception last year we have tasted hard cheese, soft cheese, blue cheese, Irish cheese, Yorkshire cheese, melty cheese and beery cheese. But tonight we faced our biggest challenge, rind washed cheese.
Walking up the stairs at The Adelphi (the home of cheese club) I had no idea what I was about to face. The fog soon lifted as I entered the room. If I had been carrying my cheese miners canary it would have fallen off its perch. But trust me, this is not a bad thing. What I already knew about rind washed cheese wasn't much but I did know that they didn't necessarily taste as bad as they smelt.
We were being treated to 8 cheeses which were about as varied as a single type of cheese can be. The stars of the show were Epoisses, Talaggio and Reblechon. The Epoisses was almost running off the plate it was that gooey. The Talaggio was soft but didn't try to run away and the Reblechon fell somewhere in the middle. As with a lot of soft cheeses these were all mild and creamy and nowhere near punchy as they smelt. There were hard cheeses on offer too. Admiral Collingwood, washed in Newcastle Brown Ale, and Ardrahan, an Irish cows milk cheese that would have been at home at last months cheese club, both had a toothsome bite to them.
But it wasn't all cheesy deliciousness. I fought and bettered Oxford Isis. The initial assault on the senses was like your nose being attacked by a kimchee wielding kipper. That said however, if you could get past the smell it had a pleasant sweet, salty flavour but it didn't taste good enough for seconds. Neither did Celtic Promise. To me this sounded more like a 100-1 shot at Aintree than a cracking cheese. I'm not going to say that it had equine overtones, that would be cruel, but neither the flavour, taste or texture could win me around.
That left one cheese. Stinking Bishop. It is probably the most famous rind washed cheese in Britain. Catapulted to fame by Wallace and Gromit, after its starring role in The Curse of the Ware Rabbit. I had hoped that it would be on offer tonight as I had never tried it and to my joy, there it was. We taste the cheeses blind, that's to say we don't know what we are eating until we have tasted all of them. I was crest fallen to discover that my least favourite cheese of the night, nay decade, was Stinking Bishop. Writing this after the event, I cannot put into words how much I disliked eating this cheese. It was like it was going off in my mouth as I ate it.
A couple of valuable lessons were learnt at Homage 2 Fromage tonight; never judge a book by its cover, or a cheese by its smell and never meet your heroes, you will only be disappointed.
*that's probably just me, everybody else seems quite normal.