British Cheese Festival

I haven’t disappeared, but have been taking a bit of a break. In that time I did go to the British Cheese Festival and found I do have a limit to how much cheese I can eat in one day. It turns out that 5 tastings may be too many. So here are a few shots of the day – held in the grounds of Cardiff Castle.

So how do judges pick their favourite cheeses? According to Juliet Harbutt, this is the way to taste:

1) Don’t smell or taste yet. Instead, look at the texture, maybe squeeze the cheese a bit, and, if you can, break a small amount off  and push it around a bit with you fingers, making it warm.

2) Now you can smell it. If you want to do this properly, tilt your head back slightly and inhale

3) Now comes eating. Bite a small amount, seeing how it tastes on different parts of the tongue, and whether there are after flavours or spikes.

Apples and apple juice are the key to cleaning your palate inbetween.

Cheese Bites: British Cheese Festival/Awards and Cheese School

Summer and work; together they make me a terrible writer. But I have been busy with camembert and blue – posts on both are coming. I also want to let you know about two upcoming cheese events. I’m definitely going to the first one, and hopefully the second, depending on whether I have any funds left after my polish cycling holiday next month.

British Cheese Festival – organised by cheese expert Juliet Harbutt, this festival showcases the winners of the British Cheese Awards as well as many other cheeses. Held in Cardiff, it is on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September this year. There are cheese markets, masterclasses and tastings. The good thing is that, other than getting to Cardiff, it isn’t too expensive. Entry is just over £8 and masterclasses vary from £3.50-£5 each. More information can be found here.

Cheese School – Cheese school was set up by food writer Fiona Beckett and Jess Trethowan of Trethowan Dairy (which make the excellent  Gorwydd Caerphilly). I missed the first two so I’ve been waiting for the next one to be announced and now it has: 30 October in North Somerset. It’s £125 but that includes lunch, lots of cheese, sessions on cheese and drink pairing, with lots of tasting along the way. I want to go. More information can be found on the Cheese School website.

Hopefully see you at one of these.

Entering cheese competitions and eating the results

Posting about upcoming events feels a bit odd as I’m not really sure if anyone will see them, but if you have managed to find your way here, then you might be interested in two cheese competitions that that going on – one for entering and one for eating:

  • The first is the Moorlands amateur cheese awards .  I only found out about it when I chatted to the Moorlands folk at the Cheese and Wine Festival the other week and they asked if I was entering…which I’m not. My lack of participation is partly because I’m off to Spain on Friday and partly because I think cheese competitions are still a bit in the distance for me, but they were really encouraging about it, even for beginners, which was nice given that early cheese attempts are so hit and miss. I might look at it next year, but  if you are keen it’s not too late. Cheese can be entered in up to six different categories and needs to reach them by 3 November, with judging on 5 November. 
  • A much larger cheese competition also recently closed for judging. The World Cheese Awards are being held in Birmingham in November. This competition is the largest  in the world, with over 2500 cheese entries in 2009 and more than 3000 expected this year. In what must be a dream job, 150 judges get to taste them all on  24 November, with an elite group of 12 getting to pick the ‘supreme cheese’! (If you want to read more, Lactography has a good post about the mexican cheeses in competition and the role of a judge). My excitement about this is all because I’m going to try and get up there to eat some of the cheese. Admittedly, last time I went to a cheese awards in Sydney, my tasting effort meant I had to go to bed all afternoon, but I’m sure I can show slightly more restraint this time and instead bring some home for later sampling.

I should also mention that the British Cheese Awards were held in September this year. I have a  plan to try and work my way through the winning list, which can be found here.