Standing at my local supermarket the other day I had a cheese dilemma as I was confronted by a sea of ordinariness. Newtown New World doesn’t do artisanal cheese and, like a junkie, I was afraid I would miss my fix of exceptional fromage. The search was on to see what was the best they could offer. And today Grandma Singletons Red Leicester was best of class.
British cheeses are a mystery to me, they seem the much plainer cousin of those glamour French fromages, the exotic Spanards and the rumbunctous Italians. The Brits seem a little more pedestrian, a little too close to the big block commercial cheeses I ate as a child. So when I am on a cheese mission the Brits seldom make it home withe me. But today Grandma Singleton’s Red Leicester changed all that. Slim pickings were also helped along when I saw it was imported by Ontrays in Petone – a guarantor of quality.
And what a nice surprise. First off you’ve got to be delighted by the colour – a beautiful red orange. Traditionally it was colured with beetroot and carrot juice but these days from annatto, and with its slightly flakey texture, it reminds me of a caramel fudge. The texture is firm and it has a lovely smooth, mouth feel, almost like provolone.
On first taste my mouth was filled with a gentle sweetness, all caramel and butterscotch, these lengthened over my tongue to a nice sharp finish, just enough to want to craving something sweet. I love that in a cheese where the last notes create a gap, that just another bite will sate. Mmm. The siren call of a wonderfully balanced food.
All in all this cheese was pretty nice. Eminently edible and certainly a colourful, yet safe addition to a cheeseboard. You wouldn’t expect it to the be star of the show, but it helps provide a bit of balance. And it made a nice sandwich!
Grandma has certainly put together a nice cheese with Red Leicester. Sure it’s not that goofy sticky Frenchie yum that makes me go weak at the knees, but you know maybe it is time I put aside my Euro prejudices and start to investigate the world of real British cheese.