Category: food

la guerre des fromages?

Les Français sont plutôt fiers de leurs 365 fromages. Et pourtant, tout requinqués de leurs retrouvailles avec la bonne bouffe, les British me disent qu’ils ont plus de fromages que nous. Amusant que Churchill ait trouvé la France ingouvernable avec ses 300 fromages puisque les cousins outre-Manche se vantent maintenant de 700 fromages

Contrairement à l’opinion française, il n’y a donc pas que deux fromages en Grande-Bretagne. Le Cheddar et le Stilton ont de nombreux cousins et rien que dans le Sud-Ouest anglais où je vis, les amoureux de fromage ont de quoi se régaler. Quelques exemples pour mettre l’eau à la bouche.

Un bon Cheddar de ferme (West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, pas celui des supermarchés à base de lait pasteurisé qui ressemble a du plastique et n’a pas de goût) est un peu comme notre Cantal: jeune il est tendre et doux et plus il est affiné plus les saveurs sont intenses. Extra Mature et vous y trouverez des cristaux, il laisse un après gout qui peut donner des frissons tellement il est intense, pas pour tout le monde. J’adore, en petite dose.

Un de mes préférés c’est le Dorset Blue Vinney. Comme son nom l’indique, c’est un bleu.  A base de lait de vache dont la crème a été enlevée pour le beurre, il n’est pas aussi fort que son cousin Stilton au lait pasteurisé. A mis chemin entre fondant et friable il peut être comparé au bleu d’Auvergne. Le Dorset Red est un fromage fumé à pâte dure, bien que plus moelleux qu’un Cheddar fermier. Red de nom il est plutôt orange que rouge, son goût et son arôme sont particulièrement fumés.

Juste au nord dans le Somerset, ils font des bries (British Brie bien sur) qui n’ont rien à envier à la Normandie, même si j’imagine que les cousins normands ne seront pas forcément d’accord. Il faut goûter pour se faire une idée. Des deux cotés de la Manche, il y en a des bons et des médiocres… En Cornouailles, ils font le Cornish Yarg dont la croute gris vert est formée grâce à une enveloppe d’orties posées à la main. Le coeur est assez friable mais la couche extérieure est crémeuse et la croute se mange. Son nom n’a rien de Celte mais est le verlan de la famille Gray qui l’a créé au 13eme siècle.

Et ça ce n’est que dans mon coin, sans chercher les petites fermes qui -comme chez nous- font leurs fromages en petites quantités et sans publicité dont je n’ai jamais entendu parler. Comme de nombreuses tommes ou fourmes au fin fond de l’Auvergne ou des Alpes.

Un chose qu’il faut savoir c’est que les Anglais mangent leurs fromages avec des biscuits et après le dessert. Je vous raconte tout ça dans mon prochain billet.

£6 for 2 decent lunches on Dorset’s Coast

When the husband discovered this little hotel down the road with a nice Cellar Wine Bar that do lunch for £6 per couple, I thought we’ve got to give it a try. I was expecting soggy vegs and microwaved mush. I was wrong.

The Manor Hotel in West Bexington is an attractive stone building with a veranda and a cellar turned into a Wine Bar. A few steps from Chesil Beach on the Dorset Jurassic Coast, it’s the kind of place I’d happily spend a quiet weekend.

We ordered a fish pie and a shepherds pie and fifteen minutes later we had a couple of piping hot meals with crunchy vegs, just as I like them. My fish pie had decent pieces of fish and sliced potatoes on top in a tasty creamy sauce. Husband’s shepherds pie was equally enjoyable and a good portion for lunch. I mean if that’s not great value for money, what is?

They also have an evening menu “eat as much as you like for £8.50”. Normally I stay away from the principle of eating as much as I like. It sounds like gluttony and conjures up cheap produce. But with this lunch in mind and with a bouillabaisse of local seafood on the menu as well as local squid with chilli, ginger and garlic (husband’s vote), I will have to try. Their neighbours, the Michaud family are famous in the chilli world for growing the Dorset Naga -hottest chilli in the world, allegedly- but that’s not the one they use for the squid. Thankfully.

Being a cold and wet winter day, I must admit we were the only ones there this lunchtime but the fire was going and the atmosphere of the place was friendly and warm. Just one annoying thing, they insisted on putting the noisy dishwasher on whilst we were eating (and even chatting to the landlady at the bar) which surely could have waited half an hour. But hey. Husband kind of felt guilty at spending so little, so he had 2 drinks and some peanuts to make up for it. Which took us to the grand total of £12.

Looks like West Bexington is going to see us more often this winter, just around lunchtime.

Super rapport qualité-prix dans le Dorset

Repas de midi pour deux £6. Oui, £6 soit 3 + 3.

Le midi, comme je suis devenue Anglaise, je me contente souvent d’un sandwich mais quand mon mari m’a dit qu’il avait découvert un petit hôtel resto près de la plage qui font un repas de midi pour 6 livres par couple, bien sur il a fallu aller goûter. J’imaginais déjà des légumes surcuit et de la purée au micro-ondes. Ben j’avais tord.

Le Manor Hotel à West Bexington est un hôtel agréable, en pierres locales, avec une véranda et un bar à vins en sous sol. A quelques pas de la plage de Chesil sur la Côte Jurassique du Dorset, c’est le genre d’endroit où il fait bon passer un weekend tranquille.

Nous avons commandé un ‘hachis Parmentier’ (avec de la viande d’agneau) et une tourte de poissons (avec des pommes de terre). Simple, bien cuit, sans léser sur le poisson, chaud à point avec des légumes frais et croquants. Portions juste assez pour ne pas partir avec la faim sans se goinfrer (souvent un problème en Angleterre). Etonnant. Cote rapport qualité prix, franchement difficile de faire mieux.

Ils ont également un menu ‘buffet’ ou l’on peut manger tant qu’on veut pour £8.50 certains soirs (il faut réserver). Ça me fait toujours un peu peur ce genre de proposition mais leur bouillabaisse de poissons du coin me tente et mon mari voudrait goûter à leur calmar cuisiné avec du piment, gingembre et ail. Il va falloir retourner. Leurs voisins, les Michaud, sont d’ailleurs très connus dans le monde du piment car ils cultivent un des piments les plus forts du monde le Dorset Naga. N’ayez crainte, ce n’est pas celui qui accompagne le calmar.

J’avoue que nous étions les seuls dans le resto aujourd’hui, mais bon c’est l’hiver, milieu de semaine et il pleuviotait. Pour autant l’atmosphère était sympa, la cheminée nous a réchauffés. Le seul truc que j’ai pas compris c’est pourquoi ils ont pas attendu pour allumer leur lave-vaisselle qui faisait un boucan pas possible. Mais bon.

En bon Anglais, mon mari a culpabilisé et s’est vu obliger d’acheter 2 boissons plutôt qu’une et même un paquet de cacahuètes en apéritif. Coût total: £12.

Je crois que West Bexington viennent d’acquérir des nouveaux visiteurs pour le midi…

Eat Dorset Food Fair

Have just returned from the Eat Dorset food fair and I am still salivating. Foodie heaven on my doorstep. Literally. The fair is in the grounds of Parnham House in Beaminster, so I should have walked but decided not to. I knew I would have too many bags to carry back.

I started by watching Lesley Waters demonstrating an appetising menu: bread filled with dried figs and black pepper, pheasant terrine, chunky apple marmalade, seared venison with roasted beetroots and potatoes…

It’s such a good idea to have chefs demonstrating the produce sold on site because it entices you to try new things. Lesley is brilliant, she really embraces the whole local food phenomenon that has grown in this country in the last decade and runs with it. She uses these local suppliers for her school near Dorchester, so whilst a cynic would say that she gets a good deal from them, I say she’s chosen to live and work down here for a reason: because there is so much choice of tasty local food.

So filled with new ideas I had to go and choose what to spend my money on. Not an easy task. This was not a fair filled with grannies and their marmalades or other chutneys. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve bought a few chutneys from grannies in my time but today I was after real local stuff to fill my fridge with and the tricky bit was to choose wisely. Today I wanted something new.

Lesley showed us how to marinate some feta cheese. Really simple, very mouth watering. Thing is, Woolsery are not allowed to call their cheese feta because this is Dorset not Greece. Why they’ve decided to call it Fiesta though is a quandary. The big softie or ‘Woolsery’s crumblie’ would have spoken more to me but what do I know! All the same, I still bought some and will stuff it into a jar with some good olive oil; haven’t decided which herbs to use yet but I can’t wait to eat it with a baked potato or with some pasta since it won’t last until next Summer for a salad.

Another show stopper for me was the Real Boar company. Despite my brother-in-law being a wild boar hunter near St-Tropez I had never tried boar salami. It hits the taste buds strongly as you’d expect but leaves a lingering subtle taste of red wine and for some reason made me think of blue cheese, although you will not find any Blue Vinney in it.  The texture is fine and silky, it melts in your mouth and is utterly delicious. I subsequently found out that they supply the George Cinq -the man heard the French accent so he impressed me with the Parisian Palace first- but also Jamie Oliver. Well, I’m not surprised. If I had a restaurant, I would find a way to put it on the menu. In the meanwhile, I am thinking dinner party.

Now we have two ‘big’ names in Dorset that export abroad and have cleverly marketed their ethos through to their packaging: Dorset Cereals and Clipper Tea. Big bold designs for scrumptious products. Clipper are actually based in Beaminster and their fair trade tea in unbleached tea bags has been my favourite cuppa since my mother in law introduced me to them when they took over the Numatic factory some years back. As for Dorset Cereals they had a special offer on, so despite my “New Stuff’ policy I could not resist a bargain; plus I ended up with lots of little freebies. Don’t you love freebies?

Honey was something I was keen to find. My kids love it but try as I may to find English honey in the supermarket all I could find is utter nonsense. I don’t want honey that’s flown from New Zealand. I know we have a problem with bees dying everywhere but why does the honey have to fly from the other side of the world to land on my doorstep? Even worse, the cheaper brands are from ‘mixed sources within the EU’. Where has this honey been before it went into the jar, let alone on my kids’ toasts? What a joy to find honey from Hugh and Gillian Land who have hives near Sherborne. I should have bought more than one jar.

Another foodie find was Rapeseed oil from the The Seed Company. My Mediterranean roots make me reach for the olive oil before I’ve even thought about cooking, so I have placed the new thin bottle by the cooker so I don’t forget to use it. Apparently it can burn to a much higher temperature than olive oil, let’s see if I can be convinced to use an oil that is as expensive as the thick green cold pressed nectar. Last time I tried a new oil for cooking it promised to have carotin in it which is supposed to be good for you, it looked orange but when I fried it, my whole house stank of fish. Can’t remember the name of it, probably because my brain is worried I might buy it again by mistake. I have a better feeling about Rapeseed though. Could be the nice little green canvas bag they gave me to carry my bottle. Another freebie.

It wasn’t all food though. There were some beeswax stuff -makes sense since there were honey suppliers- and seeds from Peppers by Post. These guys also grow chilli. We bought a plant from them a few months back. What a winner. It stands proud at the end of the kitchen table near the window and it has produced dozens of chillies -purple, white, yellow, orange and red ones. The whole family loves looking after the plant and it is still growing in October. I am chief waterer though. For five pounds, that was the best investment in spices we’ve ever made! Another non foodie stand well worth a visit is Green Drawers. It’s the most eclectic stand there. Interesting eco products, cushions with hand woven covers or made from prints from a local artist -Liz Summerville; and those bags like my Mum used to have to go shopping with when I was a kid. They look like posh and bright onion sacks with a handle. If you can remember before the plastic bag days that is. I love them, bought a bright pink one to leave at the bottom of my handbag. And yes, I filled it with organic sausages, bacon and chipolatas from Sydling Brook Farm.

Must be off now, there’s some cooking to be done.