Thursday, 10 May 2012

Italian Cheese

It's that time of the month again.  The second Thursday and that can only mean one thing. Cheese Club!  Hundreds of people coming together to share in an evening of tasting cheese and learning a little in the process.  OK, so I perhaps exaggerated the total number of people, but since it launched 8 months ago, Homage 2 Fromage has gone from strength to strength and had to change venue three times to accommodate the hoards of Leeds denizens wanting to try new cheeses.

Tonight, at The Adelphi, we were treated to an evening of Italian cheese.  We had seven cheeses to chew over and for once I struggled to find a favourite.  They were all good cheeses, nice in there own way.  But not one of them blew my socks off.  Controversially, I'm not a fan of Gorgonzola.  I like blue cheese generally and always have room on my plate for some strong veiny cheese, but I just don't think it's as good as its own press.

Smoked Mozzarella di Buffala, seemed to divide opinion around the room.  I thought it worked quite well but the smoking process toughened the skin so that it was chewy on the outside and squidgy in the middle.  Provolone, Fontina and Asiago were all, again, nice but I won't be going on a mad cheese hunt to track them down.  I did rediscover my love of Parmigiano Reggiano*.  It's always in the house and added to so many dishes I lose count.  But eating it on its own in hefty chunks really lets the flavour shine.

The real treat of the night came in the form of Mario, a Barnsley lad with no trace of an accent at all**.  Mario is an Italian with a passion for the food of his homeland.  His passion is such that he still makes fresh cheese at home, the way that he was taught to when he still lived in Italy.  During the tasting, Mario dutifully kept a watching eye on his large pan of ewes milk.  By the time we had all gathered around, he had separated the curds from the whey and his first cheese of the night was born.  Mario turned his attention back to the whey and cracked on with making ricotta (re-cooked). this was a faster, hotter process and brought about the freshest cheese I have ever eaten.  It was so fresh that it was almost too hot to handle but it was so light and creamy that it was almost a dessert.  The perfect way to end the evening.

*parmesan to its friends

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