June Cheese Selection & Sophisticated Cocktails Combo
Inspiration comes in many guises and forms. The great painters were often enthralled with beautiful women. A photographer becomes enraptured by the perfect light. A chef is forever chasing that sublime flavour combination. My muse is cheese. To be fair, my ‘everything’ is cheese. There’s a reason I am in this trade after all! The beauty of cheese is often its complexity. There aren’t many food stuffs that can be described as tangy, creamy, musty and sweet all in the same mouthful. A good piece of cheese is an adventure for the taste buds.
Equally, its no secret that I am fond of a tipple. The grape is my usual poison of choice, but my boyfriend and I are also renowned for our cocktail cabinet. Therefore, this month I hope to entice you with some intriguing combinations of humble liquor and my most fickle muse, cheese.
Please note, these cocktails were designed as a homage to, and to evoke the essence of, the particular cheeses, rather than as a matching exercise. That doesn’t mean we didn’t have fun trying them out though…
An unctuous soft, creamy blue. Post blind tasting I was surprised to learn that this is in fact an English cheese. It has all the elegance of a classic French cheese, with a good sharp tang. As such we were inspired to create an anglicized twist on a French Martini. Light, fresh, with a good smooth texture – not unlike a Burt’s Blue!
This tastes like summer pudding in a glass, perfect at this time of year.
50ml Vodka (Stolichnaya is our go to – but anything decent will work), 5ml Chambord, 5ml crème de Cassis, 5ml crème de Myrtille, 40 ml Pineapple Juice.
Place all the ingredients with a large amount of ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake well. Strain and serve in a Martini glass.
Quicke’s Elderflower Cheddar
Mary Quicke is famous the world over for her glorious cheddar and this twist on a classic is fabulous for summer. Whilst, retaining the floral, earthy sweetness of the elderflower without compromising the savoury nature of the cheese, this is sure to delight many a palate on a sunny day. As such, our ode is something similarly summery.
25ml of Gin (we’re big fan of Sipsmith), 15ml of Elderflower cordial, Prosecco to finish.
Put the gin and elderflower in an iced cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously – short and sharp (or you could say ‘quicke’….)
Best served in a Marie Antoinette style champagne glass, you know, the ones supposedly inspired by a certain part of the French Queen’s anatomy… Strain and serve into the glass and top up with fizz.
A short, squat cheese, with a bloomy rind yet crisp flavour. When young, the texture is quite chalky, but as it matures it really comes into its own as a more full flavoured cheese. When confronted by a cheese called ‘Monk’s Folly’ and based on a monastic recipe, you’ll forgive us for immediately finding an excuse to play with the Benedictine that’s been languishing at the back of the drinks cupboard…
50ml of Blended Whiskey (we recommend Chivas Regal 12 year), 10ml Benedictine, juice of half a lemon, juice of quarter of a lime.
Put everything in an iced cocktail shaker (its the secret to most cocktails, as I am sure you may have already guessed…) Shake well and strain. Serve in a sours glass. A sherry glass will make a fine, if a little small, substitute.
At first glance this little cheese reminded me of a delicate goat’s cheese in style, but don’t be fooled by appearances. This is a big hulk of a cow’s milk cheese flavour wise and definitely one for those who eschew the subtle. The texture is fantastic and we loved scooping the rich gooeyness up with a simple cracker. A strong, tangy cheese, but with a wonderful clean flavour… we looked no further than a classic White Rum Mojito!
11/2 Limes cut into wedges, 20 fresh mint leaves, 2½ tsp granulated sugar, handful ice, 65ml White Rum, splash soda water. Place the limes, mint and sugar into a sturdy high ball glass and ‘muddle’ or mash with the end of a clean rolling pin, to bruise the mint and release the lime juice. Add the ice and pour over the rum. Add soda water to taste and stir well. Garnish with a mint sprig and serve.
Ecorce de Sapin
This cheese is a bit of a beast – full flavoured does not do it justice! My other half even described it as a ‘manly’ cheese. (I stared him down and reminded him that women could vote now and everything) Ecorce de Sapin translates literally as fir bark, and is named as such thanks to the fact it’s wrapped in a strip of the heady bark, which adds a wonderful resinous aroma to the cheese, and earthy undertones. For quite an unusual cheese, we’ve gone for an equally grown up, quirky cocktail.
A sugar cube, 35ml Cognac, pine syrup for a rinse (absinthe works if you can’t find pine syrup), 3 dashes of Peychaud bitters (if not available use Angostura Bitters) lemon peel to garnish.
This drink works best in a heavy bottomed tumbler, pop it in the freezer to chill. In a separate mixing glass; crush the sugar cube (yes, yes, seems pointless, but apparently its French tradition and it does add to the theatre of cocktail making) add the Cognac and bitters and an ice cube and gently stir. Remove the tumbler from the freezer and ‘rinse’ with the pine syrup/ absinthe and then discard the liquid. Strain and pour the Cognac mixture into the rinsed tumbler and garnish with a twist of lemon peel.
Experiment, excite, enthral and enjoy, responsibly of course….