Monday, 16 June 2014

Mothers from the Hill eat local cheese

The Muswell Hillbillies. Carol's front middle.
This is a very discursive entry covering, as it does, curd cheese, The Ally Pally Farmers' Market, my mate Carol, a micro library in Muswell Hill, charred asparagus and the Black Death. Sorry but sometimes you have to mix it all up. I was going to also detail my pâte sablée biscuit recipe but I'm splitting that out on its own. 

My friend Carol, who I met during something called a 'crossover lab' at the Wellcome Trust - a week where people from very different disciplines are deliberately clashed together and tasked with producing innovative marketing ideas for bizarre products - a Black Death Game was one of ours. In our case it was broadcasters, museum curators and game designers. Creative synergy it's meant to be.  It was enormous fun and we were allowed access to parts of the Wellcome trust not normally on public view.

My first Thursday for many, many months; this is was a pescetarian affair. Carol had passed responsilbity for menu design to Michele, a jewellery designer, who asked me if I knew about the artisan cheese makers in Tottenham; the only ones in London? Wildes Cheese. I hadn't heard of them but I was excited. Local cheese makers! Some Twittering later and I was chatting to Keith about their range of fourteen cows milk cheeses. He invited me to an impromptu tasting at their regular stall at Ally Pally's Famers' Market. I'd decided to use curd cheese as part of the starter. Wildes didn't actually have any but they were prepared to make a batch up. It's something they've made before but still... never had bespoke dairy before.

I went round to the cheesearium, the cheesery, the place where cheese is made; within some rather unlikely and inauspicious little, light industrial units in Tottenham, not far from the North Mid Hospital and only a mile or two from my house. I was greeted by Rodolfo who gave me the micro-tour.

Cheese birthing pool. It's probably called a whey tank or something.

Rodolfo packing up my curd

New born cheeses

Maturing cheeses
The curd cheese was harder than I expected. I'm more used to a cottage consistency. I'd asked, wrongly in retrospect, for the no salt option so I ended up brining slices of the cheese for a few hours which gave it a slight feta feel.

If anyone from Wildes Cheese would like to comment, especially on my ignorance of cheese tech, then please do. I'd appreciate it.

My block of curd looking somewhat like an elephant's tooth

The curd was coupled with roast beetroot, chargrilled asparagus, pea shoots and a creamy, horseradish vinaigrette.

And the micro library?

Chatting with Carol's guests after dinner, and Polly (an author herself) told me about her rather wonderful, book lending scheme. Basically a small cupboard on stilts, in her driveway, that she stuffs full of books to be swapped, taken or borrowed. The story was covered by the local newspaper. I love stuff like this; things that prove how dignified and altruistic we can be, given the chance. Ideas like this enhance our sense of community and allow for new connections to be drawn. That's Polly on the right (or somewhere, anywhere, god-knows, if you're reading this on a mobile phone), along with other guests from the evening. 

I'm beginning to loathe Blogger's lack of decent layout tools. The tracking too is appalling. Is there nothing to be done? I've Googled help on the matter but can't find a helpful web site. Any suggestions?


  1. Thanks Jason. Everything was DELICIOUS.

  2. It was a great evening all around! Loved the menu and have told Keith he must book in with you for a cheese lead dinner. Also, check out Diptic for interesting photo layouts to add to you blog.

  3. I would love the recipe for dessert. You have raised the bar on my top birthday pudding.

    1. This is the sorbet.

    2. The biscuit is on the blog post after this. Cheers.