Friday, 8 December 2017

What does he know about Swiss Cheese, who only Swiss cheese knows?

Stilton with Port I bought a whole head of Stilton and soaked it in the finest Port wine for a most memorable drinking session. via @FXcuisine What does he know about Swiss Cheese, who only Swiss cheese knows? Last week I decided to treat a few Swiss colleagues to a British cheese for once. Stilton with port may be a thing of yesterday for the jaded palates who stroll about in Harrod's food court, but to us Swiss it still is a stunning and delicious novelty. I bought a 17 pound head of Stilton from Clawson at my local cheesemonger's. It came wrapped in blue paper. I am sure that at Colston Basset I'd get an even better cheese, but such is the life of he who depends on imported cheese. Click to Zoom Back home, I started unwrapping the giant cheese like one who acquired an ancient work of art from some remote land, sight unseen, and is about to see what is his. Click to Zoom Blue Stilton cheese is a bit like a cheddar touched by the grace of penicillium roqueforti, one of my favorite fungi . It has been created in a small farm North of London sometimes during the 18th century. Click to Zoom Blue cheese works best when eaten with a sweet ingredient. The French serve Roquefort with acacia honey or strawberries. The English have this unique way of serving Stilton by injecting it with Port. Although I can buy Stilton with Port in several shops here in Switzerland, I decided to do it myself for the enjoyments of my readers, and of my stomach. Click to Zoom First place your cheesehead on the flattest of its two extremities, and cut off the top ... Click to Zoom ... so as to obtain a flat surface on top too. Click to Zoom Scoop off a rill all around the top using a silver Stilton scoop if you have it (I don't). Click to Zoom The cheese you have removed is called FX's share and should be sent to me for eating. Click to Zoom Prick the cheese from top to bottom using a thick skewer, so that the Port will freely flow and irrigate the blue cheese veins. Click to Zoom Continue to prick until you have 9 holes. In shops you will often see the port bottle stuck in the cheese upside down, like some dark traffic light. I prefer to use a funnel. Click to Zoom Start pouring the port slowly. Click to Zoom As long as the cheese is flat and the rill well made, you can also pour the Port directly on top. Click to Zoom The cheese is full of veins and the Port will start seeping through tiny holes on the surface, like a ship taking water. You absolutely need to place the cheese in a deep bowl because most of the port will come down under the cheese, and fast too boot. Click to Zoom The cheese need to be tightly wrapped in plastic foil ... Click to Zoom ... until it is fully covered. You need to make additional holes and pour the port that seeped through back on top several times over the course of a few days. I am told that a head of Stilton will take 2 weeks to drink a bottle of Port, considerably longer than me. I invited a few colleagues for an early Christmas round of drinks. How surprised they were to see me donning my kitchen apron with my giant cheese! Click to Zoom I sat everybody around a large table and served the Stilton with another bottle of fine Port and a huge box filled with walnuts. Each guest was given a nutcracker and a nut pick, as I presided over the session with my nut hammer. An hour well spent, no doubt. As the session drew to an end, I sliced large pieces of Stilton and bagged them with a ladle of Port so that each guest could take home a little piece of the English countryside. The next day, I started hearing what people had done with their Stilton. Pasta sauce was popular, a bruschetta with pears and my humble caramelized onions and Stilton quiche.