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Stilton is my favourite kind of cheese, but I must admit, it can lose you your friends and street credit! Eating a mouldy cheese isn't the most glamorous thing I've ever done, nor the best smelling, but it tastes great! I know very few people who agree with me on this one that stilton has an amazing taste, and, let's face it, the mouldier the better. It goes with pretty much anything, I used to have stilton and beetroot sandwiches (definitely sat on my own during lunch while eating them), stilton and Victorian chutney on fresh bread, stilton and broccoli soup, stilton and apple on pork chops, the list is endless! This cheese is amazing! The way they make the stilton mouldy is by inserting metal rods at random points throughout the cheese and then leaving them in the cheese until it begins to grow mould because of the bacteria, then the rods are taken out and the cheese is ready to eat. The mould gives the cheese a distinctive sharp taste, a bit of a kick, if you like, to add to the usually bland taste of cheese, which I think does it the greatest of favours! The mould is not unhealthy for you to eat, it is good bacteria, like that of yoghurt and such foods, and tastes delicious!
I think that stilton is one of the best cheeses there are, and certainly one of the most distinctive and strongest, and I say the stronger the better!
I spent some time working on the cheese counter when I was at Tesco, it is with some delight that I revisit this wonderful cheese and provide a little review for it to try and persuade some non converts that it is a fine cheese for any occasion.
The texture can best be described as crumbly and pliable. A good stilton should have a slight crumble, but not totally fall to pieces and end up as a pile of crumbs. When you slice into it, it should carve with relative ease, leaving behind a small amount of crumbly residue. The stilton is best known for the greeny blue veins which run through it. They look unpleasant, but I feel they provide a subtle marbling effect which gives the cheese a certain artistic notion.
The taste is like a milder Danish Blue. It does have tangy bite to it, a certain bitter aftertaste which will make you want to run your tongue over your tastebuds and keep trying to discover more of the flavour. For a first timer, Stilton can be a bit overbearing and the tartness might shock someone who has survived on a diet of Edam or Laughing Cow.
The cheese is bets enjoyed with savoury biscuits. I like to cut small wedges, placing them on Krisprolls. The cheese is also useful to have for Christmas parties and can also be used to grate onto a pasta bake.
Another suggestion is to melt the cheese into a soup, best done with leeks or carrots in my opinion. When it comes to availability, you will find it easy to obtain from leading supermarket chains. Always try and buy as fresh as you can, as it tends to be at its best for a two week period.
My tastes in cheese have changed quite significantly over the years, when I was young I did not eat cheese at all unless it was melted on toast or part of a pizza. I was not even a fan of the childhood favourite Dairy Lee until I attained my tenth year or more however over the years I have found myself eating a lot more cheese and with the exception of goats cheese which I have never taken to at all I have quite a wide taste for cheese now.
Stilton is an English cheese made in the northern Midland counties of Derbyshire, Notts and Leicester ad has a distinctive blue mould running through it. It is a hard crumbly cheese with a strong flavour that is a bit of an acquired taste. It naturally goes well with crackers and also is very nice when used in some dishes, I once had a wonderful pork and stilton pie in a restaurant which was heavenly and have also had it over a sirloin steak which was a great taste combination.
The blue mold is harmless enough and adds to its distinctive flavour which means that you do not need to eat a lot of it and small amounts in cooking are ideal. It is also excellent if you crumble it over some pasta to add lots of flavour to it.
Certainly it is a taste that children might find harsh, crtainly I would not have eaten it when I was young but now I like it as an occasional purchase.
The thought of eating mouldy cheese, or mouldy anything for that fact, is enough to put most of us off - can you imagine rooting through the fridge, finding something lurking at the back with a furry blue/green coat attached to it, and then presenting it to your guests as a final course at a dinner party? Nope, me neither - into the bin it would go, before anyone noticed how slummy I have allowed myself to get.
So, by rights, stilton, should be something that we are drawn AWAY from eating, surely?
Wrong - stilton and all its blue mouldiness is wonderful and well worth investigating if you have not already done so.
Stilton is an English cheese made ONLY in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire - cheese that looks similar and is produced anywhere else is just not Stilton. In fact, there are only six, yes six, dairies in the world that are licensed to make Stilton cheese - that really does give you an idea of how specialised this cheese is!
It is a mid texture cheese - quite hard, yet creamy crumbly. Not as crumbly as Wensleydale, but not a cheese you could easily slice like Cheddar. It is made from cows milk that is produced locally, so if you are looking for food that has low "food miles" involved in its production, this could be one for you!
The blue mould spores are added at the first stage of production, but when the "cheese" is about 6 weeks old, fine needles are inserted, which introduces air into the block of cheese which then activates the spores to produce the veins of blue mould that make this cheese so distinctive.
Stilton is a strong tasting cheese - I would certainly give it 4 out of 5 on the strength chart. As a result, you don't need too much of it to give you a wonderful flavour in your cooking, or as an addition to a salad.
Cheese is, usually, quite high in saturated fats, and Stilton is no exception with 23g of saturated fat per 100g, but because it is such a highly flavoured cheese, I find that I use less than I would of other cheeses, which I reckon offsets the fat - half the quantity of cheese = half the fat and calories without any loss of taste.....simple.
Personally, I like to have a small amount of cheese added to a salad. Salads can often be a bit boring, but crumbling and sprinkling some Stilton over your baby leaves gives it a real "kick" and livens up your leaves no end.
I also like to use this cheese when cooking - my two favourites are to put a little on top of pork chops towards the end of grilling - again, a nice "kick" to an otherwise fairly plain dish. Serve with new potatoes and green vegetables for a fab alternative to the Sunday roast. My other, very different favourite, is to chop up and cook some big field mushrooms in a little butter, then melt in some stilton and serve over a jacket potato that has been slowly cooking in the oven. The mushroom and cheese mixture is very grey and very gooey, and doesn't look particularly appetising, but has wonderful flavour and works really well with the fluffiness of the potato middle. Yum!!
Stilton is not just being produced with the blue mould - it is also left as a "plain" cheese which then has apricots or cranberries added - I have tried both these varieties, and thoroughly enjoyed them as an addition to the cheese board, but for me they pale into comparison against their older sibling.
Stilton is easily found in the chiller cabinets of most supermarkets, and is no more expensive than any other cheese, especially when you consider that you don't need a lot of it in any one go, so it lasts a long (ish) time. If you want a bargain, head to the chiller cabinets just after Christmas - there is invariably a mass of cheese going cheap after Christmas, and you can pick up some delicious wedges of dairy delight at knockdown prices - and the great thing is that Stilton can be frozen very successfully, so you can stock up and just take it out of the freezer when you need!
If you want to find out more facts about Stilton - how it is made, what the rules are for it being categorised as true stilton, and most importantly some wonderful recipes for you to experiment with, then go to www.stiltoncheese.com a very good website put together by the Stilton producers.
At around £5.50 a kilo, Blue Stilton is not the cheapest British cheese available. It has a creamy and crumbly texture and a sharp, biting taste. You could almost say that this cheese bites back.
The veins are produced by making holes in the maturing cheeses into which harmless bacteria are introduced. My son who is a cheese addict won't eat Blue Stilton because of this but he loves it when it is in soup and he can't see it!
The fat content of this cheese is not as high as I expected. It can vary but comes somewhere in the middle of Cheddar and Edam.
Because of it's strong smell it needs to be kept in an airtight container in the fridge. I quite like the way Tesco sell it in semi rigid packaging which makes it easier to handle. I tend to cut it in it's package to save mess because it does tend to self destruct and fall to bits as soon as you show a knife to it!
It leaves a salty tang in your mouth and is great for finishing a meal with to clean your palate of sweet stuff.
It is good with plain crackers or to put very small bits in with Cheddar to enliven cheese on toast.
Don't let it's rather odd veined appearance put you off, and if you are trying this for the first time take a smal piece and really let yourself savour all the different levels of flavours that are in there.
It's production is limited to a small area of Cambridgeshire and very few places have a licence to produce it. The criteria for it's genuineness (Is that a word?) is strict. I won't list them because I doubt many of you are going to try making this at home.
I use it in Broccoli and Stilton soup. (as I said earlier)
It's probably the easiest soup in the world to make. This ease is necessary for me because I am no domestic Goddess! (Domestic Godawful more like!)
Here's the recipe.
Take a kilo of broccoli. (I use the frozen florets because it's cheaper and there's no waste.) Cover it with water and boil until cooked. Add a couple of veggie stock cubes and any left over veg from yesterday that is lurking in the fridge. Finely slice in a couple of potatoes if you want to make it thicker.
When it's all cooked (about ten minutes later,) liquidise it with a hand held blender if you've got one. (If not fiddle about with your liquidiser or a spud masher!)
Just before serving, turn the heat under the pan right down so the soup is barely simmering. Add a couple of ounces of Blue Stilton. You will have to chop or slice it because it's impossible to grate without leaving most of it on the grater. Stir it in until it's melted. Serve with crusty bread.
You might want to add more or less cheese, depending on your taste. You don't need to add salt because there is enough in the cheese and possibly the stock cubes. Serves about 6.
There you go! Delicious soup that's good for you. (Try not to eat too much of it if there is anyone you want to impress coming round later. It can make you fart. Sorry, but it's true)
The Blue Stilton is ideal for this soup because it adds depth of flavour to an otherwise bland mix of vegetables.
Britain is good at making tasty cheeses.
Blue Stilton has got to be up there with the best of them.
Blue Stilton is undoubtedly one of England's best ever "inventions", it's one of the ultimate cheeses and has a strong taste that you can savour. The story of this cheese is quite interesting, it dates back to the mid 16th century when an inn owner from Stilton in Cambridgeshire visited a farm near Melton Mowbray where he came into contact with the cheese for the first time, so impressed with the cheese, he signed a deal with the farmer to be have the sole marketing rights to the cheese. Owning an inn on the Great North Road, he had the possibility to promote this cheese to other cities and the cheese became incredibly popular.
There are only 8 dairies allowed to produce these cheese and most of them are in the Melton Mowbray area, to meet the criteria to be named Blue Stilton they must:
Be made only in the three counties from local milk, which is pasteurised before use.
Be made only in a traditional cylindrical shape.
Be allowed to form its own crust or coat.
Have delicate blue veins radiating from the centre.
Have a "taste profile typical of Stilton".
(bullet points courtesy of Wikipedia)
Blue Stilton is more well known than it's inferior white cousin and I do think the taste is somewhat better, this crumbly cheese is awesome on crackers with pickle and the crusty coat makes it particularly desirable. You can't go wrong with this cheese
My Mother told me that before the 1st World War she saw her father take the 'lid' off the Stilton cheese (this was the sliced off top of the round of Stilton). Port had been added to the cheese to preserve it, but under the lid there were pure white maggots crawling around. She watched her father just scoop them up with the Stilton cheese scoop and swallow them with a glass of port.
I bought my Stilton from my Tesco metro and much to my pleasant surprise it was only £1.24 for a rather large 228g block. I went for the English blue Stilton. A classic for the cheese board.
The cheese came in a triangular plastic container with the Tesco logo stamped on it. Its cover is packed with useful information. The pricing includes advice on its cost per kilograms (£5.44) or per pound (£2.47). Storage information i.e. keep refrigerated, in this state you can keep the product for another 13 days.
Worth noting the cheese per 100g has 22.7g of protein, 23.5g of saturated fat surprisingly low compared to the other cheeses I have reviewed , 0.9g of sodium and no fibre - this cheese is for taste not for nutrition.
The product is suitable for vegetarians and contains cows milk. produced in the UK.
The cheese is sold as a delicious creamy blue cheese with blue veins for fuller flavour, on its own it certainly is. I found it on the strong side of mellow (which is why I bought it) with a tanginess. A little to salty especially towards the end of the mouthful. Also a little to much on the sharp side of mellow this is probably due to the lack of experience I have with the cheese. It goes well with a Tesco cream cracker, this adds a little body. Serving suggestions recommend serving with port if only I could afford it.
Tesco Stores, Cheshunt EN8 9SL
Blue Stilton…The king of British cheeses! There’s nothing like a soft, smelly slab of stilton on a bit of crusty bread. I used to abhor blue cheese, but my palate has become more refined over the years and I’m now an advocate of the ‘smellier the better’ approach! Stilton is one of my favourite cheeses, just edging past Dolcelatte for the number one spot, primarily because it’s a British cheese, and one must support the produce of one’s country, mustn’t one??! **** APPEARANCE, TEXTURE AND TASTE Blue Stilton is a hard white cheese with soft blue lines radiating out from the centre, covered by a hard crust. The texture varies from crumbly to creamy (I prefer it creamy!). The crumblier the cheese is, the younger it is – very mature cheeses will have an almost buttery texture. The flavour of Blue Stilton is intensely strong, and hard to describe – softer and less harsh than Danish Blue but not as mellow and creamy as Dolcelatte. Also, it really does stink – but that’s all part of its cheese. **** USES There are many different ways of eating/using Blue Stilton. It is, of course, scrumptious on a buttered cracker or a slice of crusty bread, but it can also add a gourmet touch sprinkled over pizzas, or crumbled over a salad. I like it melted over a baguette or on French toast. It is best served at room temperature (20 degrees C or 68 degrees F). There are loads of great recipes involving Blue Stilton. Here’s one of my favourites – this makes a terrific starter: Stilton Stuffed Mushrooms Ingredients 125g/4oz butter 5 shallots finely chopped 5oz/150g white bread crumbs 125g/4oz blue Stilton cheese 1 tbsp freshly chopped sage 2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley 300g/11oz open cap mushrooms – as large as possible Method 1 Preheat oven to 170 degrees C / Gas Mark 3. Melt butter in
a saucepan, add the shallots and soften for 3-4 minutes. 2 Place the bread in a food processor and reduce to crumbs. Add the softened shallots, Stilton and herbs. Process briefly until well combined. 3 Remove the stems from the mushrooms, then press the stuffing lightly into the caps. Place on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes. Serves 4 **** HOW TO STORE IT Always refrigerate Stilton cheese until ready for use. When ready to serve, take Stilton out and with the wrapping on, but loosened, bring the cheese to room temperature for the best flavor. This may take up to half an hour depending on the size of the cheese. Stilton will keep in your fridge for about 6 weeks if you check it occasionally and replace the wrap to avoid any collected moisture or browned rind. If you believe it will be longer than 6 weeks before you’ll eat the Stilton, you can freeze it. Take the cling film segments and wrap them with another layer of aluminum foil. These parcels may be kept in the freezer for about a month. When you defrost Stilton, place it in the refrigerator for a 24 hour period. Defrosting inside rather than on the kitchen counter prevents moisture loss. **** HOW IT IS MADE (source : www.stiltoncheese.com) The creation of Blue Stilton is a long and careful process. First, milk is fed into an open vat to which acid forming bacteria and blue mold spores are added. Once the curds have formed, the whey is removed and the curds allowed to drain overnight. The following morning, the curd is cut into blocks to allow further drainage before being milled and salted. Each cheese requires about 24 lb (11 kgs) of salted curd that is fed into cylindrical molds. The molds are then placed on boards and drained for 5 or 6 days. Following draining, the cylinders are removed and the coat of each cheese is sealed by smoothing or wrapping
to prevent any air entering the inside of the cheese. The cheese is then transferred to the store where temperature and humidity are carefully controlled. Each cheese is turned regularly during this ripening period. At about 6 weeks, the cheese is forming the traditional Stilton crust and it is then ready for piercing with stainless steel needles. This allows air to enter the body of the cheese and create the magical blue veins associated with Stilton. At about 9 weeks of age, by which time each cheese now weighs about 17 lbs (8kgs), the cheese is ready to be sold. **** SUMMARY Stilton is superb, stinky, scrumptious stuff! Everyone should try it at least once. I’m off to buy some now, to munch in front of the telly with a nice glass of wine this evening. The only downside of Stilton is the calories – it’s packed full of ‘em. Avoid it if you’re tring to shed the pounds. But I will say one thing – it is worth breaking your diet for!
For the purposes of this opinion I should be grateful if you would pop a CD into your player of traditional Greek bazouki players. Those of you who are without benefit of such an album should hum along while you read or ask a member of the family or next-door neighbour to sing to you for the duration. The reason for this strange request, as some of you may have already realised, is that it is nigh on impossible to think about any sort of cheese without Monty Python's 'Cheese Emporium' sketch. Imagine if you will that I am Michael Palin and this is my cheese emporium. Hmm, if this opinion is to get anything other than a NU rating it is at this point the comparison breaks down as the Python cheese shop had no cheese whatsoever and I do not want to be shot by fellow dooyooers. 'What a senseless waste of human life'. Eeeeeek (sound of mental brakes screeching to a halt). Click (pressing rewind button). 'life human of...Palin....cheese...duration....purposes the For.' Okay, let's start again. THE CHEESE Stilton. Arguably Britain's second most famous cheese but without doubt this nation's most renowned blue veined cheese, elbowing mighty contenders such as Blue Vinney and Blue Wensleydale out of the running. The traditional stilton is white to buttermilk yellow in base colour with rich blue veins running throughout. It is soft and moist to the tongue and can have a lovely crumbly texture. The blue veins, as many a young child has observed, consist of mould. I once saw a photo of stilton under a microscope and unfortunately numerous little beasties were to be seen crawling about on the surface of the food. However, before you rid your cheese boards of this delicacy, remember the frightening statistics about the number of bed bugs who share your beds and that you swallow on average about five spiders a year in your sleep. Need you be so choosey about with whom you sha
re your stilton? White stilton is, as the name might suggest (to anyone other than a brain dead mollusc), a purely white version of the cheese. Those of you with an irrational disliking of eating small crawling insects will be overjoyed to hear that this variety of stilton contains no mould (although this state cannot be guaranteed to continue if left in a single male's fridge's vegetable drawer, as it will remain untouched until the fridge breaks down or is sold to fund a sever aftershave habit). Other varieties include Admirals cheese, which is cheddar with port layered with blue stilton (pause while I wipe the drool from my keyboard) and white stilton is often combined with apricots or nuts in delicatessens or your friendly Marks and Sparks food hall (don't forget to take out a mortgage before shopping for dinner). STILTON AND I Being a bit of an alcofrolic at heart I have always liked to eat my stilton while drinking port. Not necessarily at New Year, as is traditional, but any time I can get near the alcohol cabinet. Last year all my dreams were answered as the Cheese Fairy visited me for Christmas. I was extremely relieved that the fairy did not visit in traditional tutu and ballet shoes, as the fairy came in the shape of my father who presented me on Christmas day with the marvellous present of a bottle of port and an ENTIRE stilton! Those of you who have found themselves staring transfixed into the window of a delicatessen until moved on by the police (or is that just me?) will know that an entire stilton is enormous. After I had eaten as much stilton as I could until my port supply ran dry (as had every off licence within a 10 mile radius), I then tried to find various friends and relatives willing to take on a slice or two of the delicious cheese. Unfortunately I was still left with rather a large amount and by this time I was rather fed up of my entire house smelling like Linford Ch
ristie's running shoes and so had to relegate the remaining cheese to cooking fodder. RECIPES Starter: Stilton and Grape Avocados (serves 4) 2 ripe avocados, halved and stoned A dollop of lemon juice 100 g (4 oz) blue stilton, crumbled 75 g (3 oz) black seedless grapes, halved 45 ml (3 tbsp) sour cream 1. Scoop flesh from avocados and put in bowl. 2. Add lemon juice, stilton, grapes and cream and mix together. 3. Spoon back into avocado shells. 4. Garnish with a grape! Main Course: Steak with Stilton Sauce (serves 2) Dead cow or if your butcher is obliging, 2 sirloin steaks 1 chopped onion 30 ml (2 tbsp) sherry (let your hand shake though) 100 ml (4 floz) double cream 50 g (2 oz) blue stilton, crumbled 15 ml (1 tbsp) chopped chives 1. Fry onion. 2. Add sherry and boil for 1 minute 3. Add cream and boil for 1 minute 4. Stir in stilton and chives 5. Serve with steaks (don?t forget to cook those too) Pudding: Stilton and Banana Sandwich (serves 2) 4 slices of bread butter 1 banana, peeled and sliced dollop of lemon juice 50 g (2 oz) blue stilton, crumbled 2 spring onions, sliced 1. Spread butter on bread. 2. Dip banana in lemon juice. 3. Arrange banana slices and stilton on 2 slices of bread. 4. Cover with remaining slices of bread. GIVE STILTON A CHANCE I hope this has inspired you to rush out to your local purveyor of cheese and demand a slice of his (or her) finest creamy stilton. Try some of the recipes - the starter is very quick to make, can be made in advance which is ideal for dinner parties, and is extremely delicious. Just one word of warning, do not store your stilton in the airing cupboard.
What makes a cheese great, it's not simply how good it tastes but rather like a fine wine it's the subtlety and depth of flavour that reflects the amount of care and time that has been spent in making it. In this regard Stilton fit the bill. >>>>A BRIEF HISTORY<<<< Stilton was first produced in the 18th century in the Melton Mowbray area also famous for other gastronomic delights (pork pies). There is a village called Stilton (just south of Peterborough) but although the cheese takes its name from here no cheese was ever produced in the village. Due to the strategic position of Stilton it became a convenient stop for coaches and traders on the way north from London. The village of Stilton became an important market place for the local cheese and therefore the name was adopted. The first recorded production of Stilton was in 1722 when local farmers to Wymondham a small village in Leicestershire were said to have produced a blue veined creamy cheese made from cow's milk. Later standards were set governing the quality and shape of the cheese to make the product we know today. In essence though the Stilton of 1722 varied little from today's Stilton. >>>>STILTON TODAY<<<< In 1936 The Stilton Cheese Makers' Association, was formed and the name 'Stilton' became a protected trademark. Today Stilton is still handmade by only a small group of designated cheese-makers in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. These producers make over a million cheeses a year. It is still the only British cheese with its own certification trademark. >>>>HOW IS IT MADE?<<<< It is said that cheese was originally produced by accident. The story goes that many years before the birth of Christ a nomad was carrying milk in his saddlebags across the desert in the Middle East. On arriving at his destination he found that the milk had separated in to whey (liquid) and curds (s
olid) and thus cheese was discovered. The making of Stilton or any other cheese can be split in to three stages: *Producing the curd from milk Pasteurised milk is treated with a bacteriological agent to sour and thicken the milk. In Stilton like all blue veined cheeses the mould penicillium roqueforti is used to produce the distinctive veined pattern. The mould is introduced to the milk. A renneting agent is used (nowadays mostly non-animal) to help the curds from in the milk from the naturally occurring proteins. Then this is left to set. *Concentrating the curd The setting curds are cut to release the liquid whey. Hard cheeses are cut finely to release more whey while soft cheeses are cut less to retain more liquid. At this stage the curd are either piled on top of each other or 'cooked' and then cut further to expel more whey. Next the curd can be milled and salt added. Finally the curds are pressed in to moulds. *Ripening The prepared cheeses are kept in storage rooms. The temperature and humidity are strictly monitored and varied according to the type of cheese being produced. For Stilton it is essential to turn the cheese daily to ensure an even distribution of moisture in the cheese. After about six weeks each cheese is perforated with long stainless steel hollow needles to let oxygen enter the cheese. This allows the mould to continue growing and it also allows any by-product gases present to escape from the cheese. The length of storage will depend on the desired maturation of the cheese and can vary from weeks to years. >>>>TASTE AND HOW TO EAT IT<<<< Stilton is a semi hard cheese. Usually it is sold in wedges with a hard rough outer skin that has to be cut off before eating. It has a smooth creamy texture that tends to crumble when cut. It is difficult to spread unless melted. Its has a slightly acidic flavour, which can be quite strong in the mo
re mature varieties. The more it is ripened the stronger its smell becomes and when very mature this can become the overriding odour in the fridge! When compared to other classic blue cheeses it can be said to fall somewhere in between the very strong potent taste of Gorgonzola and the milder creamier Danish Blue. Its complex flavour makes it an ideal after dinner cheese to be accompanied by a strong full-bodied red wine such as the Italian Barolo or a fine Port. Traditionally it is served with port at Christmas. Because of its strength and depth of flavour it is also an ideal cheese to use in cooking, and can be commonly found as part of many recipes. >>>>NUTRITIONAL VALUE<<<< Typically for each 1oz or 28g of Stilton: 110 calories Total fat 9g (14%RDA) Saturated fat 5g (25%RDA) Cholesterol 30mg (10%RDA) Sodium 220mg (0% RDA) -this is lower than other blue cheeses Protein 7g Vit A 6% RDA Calcium 8% RDA As part of a balanced diet Stilton can be good for you as well as being great to eat! Thank you for reading and rating this opinion. ©Mauri 2002
It was a hot Summer: July 1976: A drought had been officially declared, and although we needed the holiday visitors here in West Dorset, in order to boost the local businesses and maintain employment, they were using our precious water supplies, and there was a sense of siege in the area. This was the same year as the famous Cod Wars in the North Sea, but that’s another catering story. Six days a week, from Monday to Saturday, I ran my busy hairdressing salon in Bridport, plus three evenings a week I was a part-time waitress in an busy Inn in Burton Bradstock where my Chef husband ran the restaurant and bar food enterprise. Added to this I had a very young daughter, who used to come with me on these three evenings a week, and get put into one of the pub bedrooms to sleep, then get rudely dragged out of her bed round about midnight to be driven home and popped into her own bed. As I write this I find it hard to recall how much energy I had, and indeed used in those far off times. We only used fresh foods in the restaurant and bar, every meal being cooked to order, no micro-ovens or convenience foods for my very talented chef husband. This meant the refrigeration was working overtime to keep to the temperatures required for safety precautions in feeding the public in this extraordinary heat. We bought fresh provisions daily from local suppliers, including cheeses. In normal times, we bought a whole Stilton which would be kept in an old fashioned larder, but it was far too hot for this, so instead we shopped every day for smaller quantities of everything and kept them in the fridge. This is not recommended for cheeses as they should be served at room temperatures, but room temperatures in this hot, hot July were more like those of a warm oven, and food was ‘going off’ in frighteningly short time spans. I had bought a pound of gorgeous looking Stilton from the local delicatessen this particular July Saturday lunchtime, placed
it in my fridge at home in the flat above my salon until my evening shift at the Inn, when I had put the Stilton and my dear daughter in the car, driven the short distance to work, and then put the pound of Stilton in the excellent catering fridge. At all times the Stilton remained wrapped. It did! It was a very busy Saturday night, with all the tables in both the bar and the restaurant being occupied twice over during the evening, and the evening so hot that it wasn’t really inductive to cheese eating. Usually we had a fine Cheese Board made up ready and garnished, primed to take to a table when requested, enabling the eager diners to see the choices available, but had tactically decided to make a board up from the fridge on demand. The last table of the evening wanted to see the Cheese Board to finish their meal with a savoury rather than a dessert , complete with Port and cigars. I made the board up in the kitchen, straight from the fridge, garnishing it with grapes, apples, nuts, nut-crackers, butter, biscuits and including my freshly purchased pound of Stilton along with other local cheeses. It was a long passageway from the kitchen to the dining room and I noticed nothing amiss on my way to the table carrying my selection. I posed neatly with my cheese board (Can you see Julie Walters yet? Or perhaps Sybil? Or even Patsy?) the diners pointing enthusiastically at the Stilton and decided on a ‘good wedge please’. I opened the glass cover of the domed board, moved the Stilton slightly…and a seething mass of crawling, wriggling, vile, evil, swarming, teeming, heaving maggots shot out from underneath the piece of cheese and hurtled themselves over the entire board at an astonishing speed!!! I felt the suspended silence lingering in the air! Had they seen them I wondered? “Excuse me Sir” I said prettily “ I seem to have mislaid my special cheese cutting knife” The diner very k
indly offered me a spare knife from the table! No! “No Sir! I have to have my special knife!” and I wordlessly tore out of the restaurant as fast as I decently could and scuttled up the long passage way like a scalded cat. The kitchen was in that particular end of session mood that, as any of you will know who have worked in commercial catering, is the norm after a very busy, and so far, successful evening. An incident free session is always greeted with relief. I was speechless, no words would come out. Was I hyperventilating? Yes! I threw the offending cheese dome on the stainless steel table and mouthed silently and hysterically to my husband “Maggots! Millions of them!” and then I fainted…I was revived very quickly with the strong vapours of a cheap glass of cooking brandy being waved under my nostrils. Got to keep me working as we were short staffed. No time for histrionics in catering. By this time my husband had remade up another cheese board, minus the Stilton, and insisted I went straight back into the restaurant. “ The Stilton wasn’t up to our usual standard Sir” I muttered weakly, and proceeded to cut the table some local goat’s cheese. I have never been able to eat Stilton cheese since. I somehow think my opinion on Stilton Cheese, the long hot summer, the rogue blue-bottle fly and resultant maggots won’t be doing a lot in promoting their sales so I shall now redeem myself by relating a few facts that I certainly didn’t know before. · Stilton is a protected name, taken from the village of the same name in Cambridgeshire, but the cheese was never made there. · Stilton can only be made in three counties. Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. · There are just six or seven dairies licensed to make Stilton Cheese worldwide. · White Stilton is also protected, and the reason its white is that no mould spores are added as in t
raditional Stilton. · Stilton was first made in the early 18th Century in the midlands. · In 1966 The Stilton Cheese Makers Association succeeded in getting “Protected Designation of Origin” status for Blue Stilton from the European commission. One of the simplest and effective main dishes my chef husband would offer on our menus was Local Corn Fed Chicken Breasts and a Blue Stilton Sauce. The ease is because of the high milk/fat content used to make a Stilton, 136 pints of milk to one 17lb whole cheese, allowing the cheese to be heated and melt into a delicious, creamy, pouring consistency. Very classic and impressive and most importantly, a fast dish to prepare from fresh ingredients in a hectic restaurant. Avocado pear with the flesh scooped out, mixed with crispy grilled, chopped bacon, put back in the empty half avocado skin, then topped with Stilton, followed with a fast blast under a hot grill was good, but sounds very ‘80s to me now. Aren’t some of the dishes of the ‘80s making a return to our menus? This is an ‘80s style first course. Three different types of melon, the various coloured flesh sliced into fingers, arranged in a circular fan shape on a large plate, and dressed with Stilton cheese crumbled into real mayonnaise and served with plenty of watercress I once burnt the inside of my mouth while on a Stilton binge, and have since discovered that I overdosed on a cheese that was too young for my delicate palette, and that the acidity which blistered me diminishes as the cheese matures and the taste is creamier and wouldn’t have burnt me at all. I wish I’d known that, as I was in agony for days, and nearly resorted to Germolene and gauze dressing on the roof of my mouth. I personally think I should stick to a gentler cheese, but it is still a British Cheese to be proud of, and 10% of our Stilton production is exported annually, and very fort
unately not the Stilton I bought in my local delicatessen in 1976.
I'll start by apologising because cheese is my addiction and like any other addiction it can make you behave in a manner totally out of your control. Some days are better than others, some days I can control it, but some days the cravings are too much and my behaviour becomes erratic until there's no helping it and I overdose, euphoria strikes and I insist that my sons join with me in the cheese song: "Cheese, glorious cheese, Brie, Stilton, Red Leicester…" There are many verses, my sons and I know them all. See what I mean? See what happens when I start even thinking of cheese? I'll take a quick break… … it's ok, I'm now back in total control and while I'm still this composed I'll move on with the opinion. It's about strong, blue cheese. I love them all and feel slightly guilty about singling one out so you'd better have my short list. In reverse order I'd say my favourite blue cheeses are: 5. Roquefort 4. Rosenburg Blue 3. Shropshire Blue 2. Danish Blue But the winner is (cue nail-biting silence)S BLUE STILTON! After giving long, hard thought I'd say that Stilton's outstanding advantage over all the other blue cheeses is its ability to contribute to such a variety of dishes, both hot and cold. My passion is for strong, overpoweringly strong cheeses. It is great to eat a strongly flavoured cheese like Stilton with warm, freshly baked bread, but even for me, after a while I feel like being more adventurous. Stilton can adapt in many ways and complement so many dishes, without ever becoming overpowering, if you use it sensibly, while always remaining capable of giving your dishes that certain "pow". It's as good eaten with many other things as it is alone, and this, I feel is its main quality over all the others. I love its strong smell, its rough, crumbly yet still creamy texture, and the way it
melts in your mouth with such ease. Its full delights are only apparent after a while, as its flavour builds slowly, gradually, leaving a lingering, long-lasting aftertaste. Sheer bliss. However, once you've acquired the taste and fully appreciate it you begin to want to branch out, to wonder what else you could do with this wonderful flavour. I started by making Stilton the cheese to use with that simplest but nicest of things - cheese on toast. It was slightly disappointing because Stilton doesn't seem to melt in an even manner, making it difficult to get a consistent taste. It also takes a fairly long time to melt and so it was almost impossible not to burn the edges of the toast. I hate burnt toast. I did discover that, with a little lateral thinking, you can have Stilton with toast, with that other old favourite, beans on toast. All you need to do is stir small pieces of the cheese into the beans as you're warming them through. It makes a rich, more tangy flavour, although even I can't each too much of it. After six slices or so it becomes too sickly even for me! I'm also a big fan of jacket potatoes, with cheese, any cheese, but particularly Stilton. Once the potato is cooked and fluffy on the inside take it from the oven and cut it in half, then scoop out the inside carefully, leaving enough to make a reasonably solid shell. Dice some bacon and some onion and fry until the bacon is crispy and the onion is brown and sweet. Place the bacon and onion mixture in a bowl with the potato insides and mash with a little milk and butter. Spoon the mixture back into the potato shells and put back in the oven until the tops are nicely browned. They are gorgeous, especially when accompanied by a nice, tangy, fresh salad. I should tell you about my only culinary disaster with Stilton, just in case you're ever tempted to try something similar yourself. I'd not been shopping, there was hardly any food in the house,
and it was almost time for dinner. My sons were hungry, and so was I, and my wife was due in from work. It was time to raid the almost bare cupboards and make the best of it. The best of it was tinned pork luncheon meat, baked bean and Stilton "mess" generously aided with a good few spoonsful of curry powder, served with rice. My sons loved it, so did I, my wife wasn't impressed, my sister-in-law went hungry and my brother-in-law, who will eat anything, scoffed it with his usual enthusiasm. He won't eat it again I'm afraid to say, because the "after effects" lasted a full three days. It's a shame really, because from time to time my sons ask me if I'll ever make it again. My wife won't let me. I'm forced to be content with simple cheese dishes these days. My love of cheese, and Stilton cheese in particular, will never diminish. Try Stilton, experience its delights, but treat it with respect because you never know, it could take over your life. My cheese demons are beginning to stir so I'll take my leave, perhaps I'll leave you with the rest of that song... maybe not!
All of our family enjoy cheese and so if we buy any unusual cheeses they are normally eaten up pretty quick. By the time I get to the fridge to enjoy a piece of cheese and some fresh crusty bread there is normally only some mild cheddar left behind. But if I want to ensure that there will be a piece of decent cheese for me to eat then all I have to do is to buy some Stilton. I think there is something in the DNA build-up of human beings that means that under the age of thirty you believe the worst possible taste and smell in the world belongs to Stilton cheese. Suddenly after reaching the ripe old age of thirty you find that this is rather a pleasant cheese and the older you get, the better this cheese tastes. So it is safe from my children and although my wife will eat a little bit she still does not like the smell. Stilton cheese of course does not come from Stilton. In the 18th century this cheese was given to stage coach travellers in the town of Stilton, in Cambridgeshire, where it was supplied from farmers in Leicestershire. Still today this cheese is only made by a small number of dairies in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, although now it is sold all over the world. The cheese tends to be rather crumbly with the distinctive blue veins radiating out from the centre. It has a crusty grey rind that always makes it look very old. It has a very strong taste, but in a smooth way. As well as the blue vein Stilton there is also a white Stilton which has no veins and has a much lighter taste. The blue vein Stilton is also used in conjunction with other cheeses to produce unusual cheeses such as the Huntsman where it is layered between two layers of Double Gloucester. Stilton is used quite a lot in cooking, where it is often melted to produce a very fine cheese sauce. My own favourite is to have a piece of Stilton as one of the cheeses on a Ploughman’s Lunch with a crisp, fresh salad on a hot SummerR
17;s day accompanied by a pint of refreshing bitter shady.