BEING something of a dairy queen, I moved quickly to secure tickets for the sold out inaugural meeting of the Leeds ‘Homage to Fromage’ cheese club.
I was doubly excited when it was announced - via Twitter- that Blur bassist turned cheesemaker Alex James was going to pop in to show off his latest creations.
'We learned there is no Japanese word for cheese and that it comes in tins, which were often hurled at him by overexcited fans during his Blur days.'
Hosted by local foodies Nick and Vickie, our small but knowledgeable group of cheesus freaks were introduced to the world of fromage with a taster session discussing the pleasures of Cheddar – that most British of cheeses.
Nick explained that Homage to Fromage hoped to expand its members’ understanding of ‘a world of cheese’, and promised to keep our feet on the ground by avoiding cheese-centric snob clichés.
Vickie took centre stage to guide us through the evening’s fayre. We were encouraged to taste and discuss the merits of five very different Cheddar cheeses – some of which were carefully prepared artisan cheeses, and some quite standard supermarket varieties.
Our taste buds were tickled by Little Black Bomber - Snowdonia Cheese Company; Lincolnshire Poacher – Simon and Tim Jones; Extra Special Orkney Mature Coloured Cheddar – Kirkwall, Scotland; Best Ever Cheddar - Alex James and Ale and Mustard – Y Fenni, Abergavenny.
After much tasting, supping of wine , debate and tasting again – (just to be sure), Vickie took us through each of the cheeses – how and where they were made, and the different textures and taste.
I was taken by the deep, acidic fruit and nut taste and fulsome mouth-feel of the Lincolnshire Poacher. The quality and care taken to produce this gem really shone through.
Finally, it was time for the star churn as we were introduced to National Cheese Treasure Alex James.
You’ll no doubt have stumbled across James over the past few months, cheese-pushing on a plethora of television and radio shows, and to round off a day plugging away in Leeds and Pudsey ASDA stores, he seemed more than happy to come and talk to this fledgling club.
He believes that cheese is ‘miraculous stuff’ and has immersed himself in learning everything there is no know. His excitement was palpable as he discussed the pre-historic birth of cheese and its international and diverse evolution. "Everyone was off on their own cheese thing," he said.
We learned there is no Japanese word for cheese and that it comes in tins, which were often hurled at him by overexcited fans during his Blur days.
There's some product placement, but it’s very much a soft sell, and there is an almost imperceptible groan as Alex reveals his veined cheese is named ‘Blue Monday’ after his favourite song.
To be fair, he proceeds to drizzle Blue Monday with honey which, he tells me is a traditional Italian way of eating blue cheese, and hand-feeds his audience with thick, moist chunks of this delicious sweet and savoury treat.
The following morning, as if to prove the old wives’ tale true, I was informed that I had been not talking but singing in my sleep.
I can't remember it though. It was all a blur.
To join up for find out more you can find Homage to Fromage @Homage2Fromage
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