Could you be doing more with cheese?
Date: 03-11-2017 published by Nick Baines
The humble cheeseboard is a highlight of any meal, and one that gives diners something to move onto after their main meal if they don’t have a sweet tooth. But cheese is for more than just crackers and chutney and there are a ton of great places in the UK utilising cheese in some pretty exciting ways.
The posh toastie has been gaining a lot of traction everywhere from farmer’s market food stands, to festival catering. Hefty amounts of grated farmhouse cheddars are stashed between chewy sourdough bread that toasts up to a sturdy on-the-go meal for any time of day. As Christmas approaches, some of the better sarnie shops will capitalise on flavours like blue cheese and plum chutney, or Wensleydale and cranberry sauce. It’s worth bearing in mind that the readymade high street packaged sandwich market earns a hefty sum in the Christmas sandwich game, highlighting huge potential for restaurants and take-away food service outlets to get in on the action too.
Street food operators Killa Dilla at Camden Lock ply a busy trade in Mexican quesadillas and use a variety of cheeses including Mozzarella with smoked meats and kimchi. While this might be seen as a Mexican version of the toastie, the tortilla-based lunch staple arguably lends itself to a wider range of exotic flavours. Meanwhile, many places are going down the open-faced sandwich route, which when cheese is concerned, is just a fancy way of saying ‘cheese on toast’. Most often sold as variations of rarebit, you can find a whole heap of cool bars and brunch spots offering them alongside craft beers, West Country ciders and imported European wines. Avocado toast has transformed the brunch game and brought a ton of business to hipster hangouts over the past few years, but rarebit has the potential to do the same for the afternoon trade, when business can sometimes drop off.
Fondue is another dish that’s seeing some love right now and is open to a huge amount of tinkering and playfulness when it comes to the recipes. Some places are switching out the white wine for beer, and opting for British cheese like cheddar for a punchier, more British backbone. The Cheese Bar, also in Camden, has actually started doing weekly fondue nights that by all accounts, are thriving. It’s the sharing, instructiveness of this dish that makes it so infectious among diners.
Perhaps one of the most exciting uses of cheese in the market is London’s Cheese Wheel, who take freshly rolled pasta straight from its boiling water and toss it within a small hollow in the centre of a whole 40kg wheel of Grana Padano. From the heat of the noodles, and the scraping of tongs, the cheese melts to coat the pasta in a salty, cheesy lacquer before it’s hit with freshly grated black truffle, wild mushrooms or pork and leek sausage.
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