January is always a bit of a gloomy month, what with the weather being cold and dark, combined with my annual resolution to shed the weight I put on over Christmas and to get fitter. A welcome mid-month treat was the fourth Homage2Fromage event. Since starting last year with just 20 attendees, these monthly cheese events have gone from strength to strength, and last night was no exception. Around 60 cheese lovers descended on Primo's Gourmet Hotdogs in the Corn Exchange in Leeds city centre for an Alpine-and-Lancastrian themed cheese evening.
I had been wondering how a fondue for so many people was going to work. On arriving I was presented with my owm pair of colour-coded skewers (red for members, blue for guests) by Vicki who explained that the colour coding was to give members first turn at the fondue.
Inside Nick was busy putting the finishing touches to the fondue. Baskets with hunks of French bread were laid out next to a huge vat of bubbling cheese. Conor from Dewlay Cheese was also busy setting up for his demonstration, surrounded by a mountain of cheese.
I'm normally get to these events on time, but I'd had trouble parking and as a result arrived around 15 minutes after things had kicked off. Unfortunately the early birds had demolished the first round of cheese, which had included Raclette, Lincolnshire Poacher and some melty boxes of Vacherin Mont D'or. Serves me right for being lazy and driving instead of catching the bus!
Onto the fondue then. I skewered a couple of hunks of bread and Nick did thte honours giving them a good drenching with the fondue. The taste was fabulous, and the texture changed as it cooler on the skewers. I managed (just) to resist the temptation to load up my skewers with half a dozen hunks of bread to create a fondue kebab.
The second part of the evening was given over to a presentation by Conor from Dewlays, who produce cheese from their dairy in Garstang in Lancanshire. I'd lived in Manchester for a few years as a young boy, so it's no surprise that I count crumbly cheeses like Cheshire and Lancashire amongt my favourites - I'd been fed copious quantiites as a child!
Conor talked us through the four cheeses he had brought along:
Creamy Lancashire - this is Lancashire in its traditional form, which was interesting as I'd always thought the crumbly variety was the original.
Crumbly Lancashire - similar in taste to the Creamy Lancashire, the taste and texture was superb - this took me back to happy childhood days nibbling cheese from the fridge whem my mum wasn't looking. Conor told us how they had started to produce the crumbly variety to compete with to rise in popularity of other crumbly cheeses like Lancashire and Wensleydale.
Tasty Lancashre - this is matured for longer than the Creamy or Crumbly varieties, and as a result has a stronger flavour and was delicious. It was extremely moreish on its own, but would be a great match for some good chutney or melted on toast.
Garstang Blue - this was the pick of the bunch for me. Not too overpowering, a delicious blue cheese that would go perfectly with a nice glass of port (or three!).
There was so much cheese that there was enough for us all to take home a little (or maybe not so little) doggy bag of cheese to nibble on when we got home - just in case we'd not had enough cheese!
All in all another great Homage2Fromage event, well done to Vickie and Nick for organinsing so brilliantly, and for the guys at Primo's for being great hosts. My waistline hasn't gotten any smaller as a result, but I don't care - bring on next month's cheese club!