Let's talk about cheese, baby.
Although I am an ardent fan of cheese (who isn't?), I'll admit that I don't actually know all that much about it. Enter Homage to Fromage, a Leeds-based cheese club who run monthly events dedicated to this glorious activity - a place where fellow addicts can get together, gorge themselves on cheese and have a thoroughly spiffing time. I'm surprised it's take me all of three years to attend, if I'm honest - because what better way to spend an evening?
So whilst the rest of Leeds lined the streets to watch the Tour de France teams make their entrance into our fair city, Katie and I crowded upstairs at the Adelphi for some cheese-eating fun. As a special treat to celebrate Le Grand Départ, there were 11 different cheeses on offer from different nations. It was a 'blind' taste test - the only identifying feature for each cheese was a flag from its country of origin, and we were to rate them 'Eurovision Pong Contest' style.
We worked our way around the room, piling up our plates with the various treats - big hunks of cheese, of course, but also crackers and a myriad of chutneys as well. It was a little overwhelming to be honest - although that may have been the strong cheesy smell that permeated the room (not one for the faint-hearted!). There were some obvious choices - a French brie and an English cheddar (Brie de Meaux and Montgomery Cheddar, to be precise), but a few which were new to my palate if not to
So after much discussion on the merits of various cheeses, it came time to cast the vote. It was controversial, and like the original contest for which it was named, there was definitely some political voting going on. My personal favourites were the Italian Tallegio - a mild, tangy, creamy cheese that I highly recommend if you're a fan of brie and the like - and the Swiss Tete de Moine, a hard(ish) cheese which is cut into shavings with a mechanical rotary shaving system. The Tallegio was apparently a favourite amongst Pliny the Elder, Cicero and Cato the Elder, so I'm in good company, it seems.
I was actually also weirdly partial to the Norwegian 'brown cheese' (Gjetost) which was unlike anything I'd come across before - it was, as the name suggests, brown in colour, fudgey in texture and almost sweet to the taste and was widely panned in the group but there was something about it that definitely appealed to me!
The resounding winners, however, were the Harrogate Blue (Yorkshire, of course, had it's own entry) and the German Montagnolo Affine, both of which have won awards. They were also both incredible creamy and the Harrogate Blue in particular had a beautiful depth of flavour. Definitely worthy winners.
It was a thoroughly pleasant evening and definitely taught me a little something about cheese - I'll definitely be requesting a Taleggio from my cheesemonger in the future. If you want to learn about cheese and share your passion for this pongy past-time, then Homage to Fromage is the place for you!