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What cheese to serve for Burns' Night?
I was wondering which cheeses to suggest putting together for a Burns' Night cheeseboard and luckily thought to ask Patricia Michelson of London's famous La Fromagerie who came up with this brilliant selection.
Normally I wouldn't run what amounts to a cheesemonger's catalogue but Patricia's cheese is so good and her descriptions so poetic I've made an exception.
SCOTTISH CHEESE CHEESEBOARD
Patricia writes: I have not been successful in finding a suitable goat cheese from Scotland yet, but I usually place a Chabichou or something similar as the first cheese.
The Clava is a lovely Brie-style and probably richer and more dense. The Corra Lin is tasting like wild strawberries at the moment - there is that wonderful sweet earthiness from the ewe's milk. I have to say all of the Errington cheeses this year are the best I've ever tasted!
Because we serve whisky with the cheeseboard we select the two different styles of blue from the Erringtons. Lanark is that wild and totally unabandoned taste that we have come to love from this cheese. Single malts from the Highlands work wonders as a partner. The Dunsyre has more of a French style being richer so a sweeter style whisky is lovely as well as Rhone style reds.
We serve our oatcake biscuits as well as rye, charcoal and caraway crackers as they all work. If you want to add something, then perhaps quince or damson 'cheese'. And we also serve the Scottish plate after the dessert!
CLAVA ARDERSEIER, INVERNESS
PASTEURISED COW'S MILK
The Clark family farm, Connage Highland Dairy, stretches along the shores of the Moray Firth, and the dairy herd comprises of 130 cows, mostly Holstein Friesian with Jersey crosses and Norwegian Reds. The Clava is rich, creamy & nutty in the Brie style, with a bloomy white rind. The curds are hand ladled and the ripening process is carefully monitored to ensure the cheese retains its rich melting texture. (Approx weight 1kg. 45% fat)
MAISIE'S KEBBUCK CARNWATH, LANARKSHIRE UNPASTEURISED COW'S MILK
Named after the cheesemaker's mother-in-law who does not eat blue cheese (for which the farm is famous), this is an un-pressed cheese in the style of traditional cheeses of Scotland before cheddaring was introduced. The sharp lactic edge is reminiscent of Wensleydale, but again that earthy 'turnip' taste and aroma comes forward in typical style and whisky comes to mind as the drinking partner.
CORRA LINN CARNWATH, LANARKSHIRE UNPASTEURISED EWE'S MILK
Humphrey Errington's daughter Selina is following in the family footsteps and created this unpasteurized ewe's milk cheese along the lines of Manchego but with the natural moulds to the crust. Named after the highest waterfall in the picturesque Clyde Falls, the unique vegetal flavours come through with a hint of earthy sweetness. A natural affinity to single malt whisky. (1kg 45%)
ISLE OF MULL CHEDDAR TOBERMORY ISLE OF MULL UNPASTEURISED COW'S MILK
The weather plays a big part in the taste of this Cheddar. Exposed to the elements of the Atlantic the salty briny flavours are very evident as well as the mashed barley used in the whisky making from the local distillery. So strong, herbal flavours with that slightly alcoholic hit all come into play.
DUNSYRE BLUE LANARKSHIRE UNPASTEURISED COW'S MILK
Ayrshire cow's milk is used to make this rich and creamy textured blue cheese, which is not too aggressive or over salty in taste. Rather more mellow and sharp with a lovely complexity which lingers on the palate. Good with either whisky or a Rhône wine.
LANARK BLUE CARNWATH, LANARKSHIRE UNPASTEURISED EWE'S MILK
Like all Scottish cheeses, the flavours will be strong and vibrant, partly due to the abundance of turnips as part of the cattle diet - almost a national vegetable in Scotland! Humphrey Errington's powerful blue cheese is not for the faint hearted, but then not many cheeses would be a worthy partner to whisky. The sharp acidity and meaty vegetal flavours are truly Scottish in every way, and this cheese is best eaten right at the end of the meal as its flavours are quite overpowering. (48% fat)
And two other Scottish cheeses you might like to try:
We make this ourselves using the Crowdie cheese from Clark's Dairy and adding a little something extra which is actually Brillat Savarin, and then raw salt before covering with toasted pinhead oatmeal. This is perfect with smoked salmon or another smoked fish, and the wine I'd choose would be a chardonnay based Champagne or a white Burgundy or Langhe Arneis from Piedmont.
CROWDIE ARDERSEIER, INVERNESS PASTEURISED COW'S MILK
The Clark family farm, Connage Highland Dairy, stretches along the shores of the Moray Firth, and the dairy herd comprises of 130 cows, mostly Holstein Friesian with Jersey crosses and Norwegian Reds. Crowdie is a soft cheese also known as 'gruth' in Gaelic and the recipe dates back to Scotland's Viking occupation. It's creamy texture lends itself to be served dusted with sugar alongside raspberries or with a sprinkling of sea salt with smoked salmon. (45% fat)
Normally Patricia hosts a Burns Night celebration at their Moxon street shop in Marylebone but due to building works they're not doing this year. Instead they'll have a selection of Scottish- inspired dishes and the cheeseboard on the Café menu - with whisky!
La Fromagerie has two shops in Moxon Street, Marylebone and Highbury Park in London.
Image © Dale Middleton. Starting from left to right the cheeses are Clava, Maisie's Kebbuck, Corra Linn, Dunsyre Blue and Lanark Blue
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