The Courtyard Dairy

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If you love cheese then you’re going to love this next post.

I received an email out of the blue from a chap called Andy Swinscoe who, after years of experience in the cheese industry in the UK and France, has opened his own specialised cheese shop called The Courtyard Dairy just outside the dales town of Settle. Andy invited us up to come and taste some of his wares and as we were in the market for some New Year’s cheese action we had a little ‘run out’. We didn’t expect the dales to be awash with flood water either, but it made for an interesting drive I can tell you.

Andy and his partner Kathy have a wonderful little shop in an up market development called The Courtyard. It’s a super little collection of food and lifestyle outlets – a nice brasserie, a cheeky wine shop, an art gallery etc. He has selected his location wisely although for personal reasons I wish he was closer to Leeds!

We bought far too much (that happened to get eaten btw) and here’s what we bought, for the unpasteurised record:

Stichelton – essentially a traditional Stilton, not made by the Stilton mafia

Dale End Cheddar – wonderful, powerful, crunchy, mature

Gorgonzola Dolce – our favourite: unctuous and velvety

Old Winchester – aged gouda

Selles sur cher – aged French goats cheese, a delight

Aged Gruyere – definitely not like the stuff in plastic in the supermarket

 

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There is only one phrase to describe Andy and that is cheese geek. I’m not sure that is ever been used to describe anyone but he really does know his fromage. Inside out and back to front. He purposefully keeps the selection small – around thirty cheeses, mostly unpasteurised – to keep them fresh and turning over. We tasted so many interesting cheeses that after a while we had cheese blindness – you really need to go and have a dibble yourself.

It’s wonderful to meet people who are so passionate about what they are doing that it shines out. The Courtyard Dairy deserves to be a huge success.

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The Hairy Fig – Fossgate, York – Part Deux

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Prior to our lunch at Jeff Bakers we stopped by at the Hairy Fig (click for link) which also on Fossgate offers a fine selection of regional and specialist foods. The Rosemary ciabatta is one of our favourite breads and we also got some of the fresh figs, shepherds purse cheese and Morecambe bay shrimps … a varied mix but this highlights the excellent selection on offer. A nice touch were the mini umbrellas sheltering the outside display from the elements. A great find and highly recommended if in York.

J&L. 16/05/09

Roast, Borough Market, London

Having had this place recommended so many times and heard so many good things about it, I found the opportunity to meet up with a business contact for a spot of dinner last night.

I’m also a fan of the brand identity for this place too – it was created by a really nice guy called Pierre Vermier who runs a cool design studio called HGV. Anyway, enough talk of design. 

To say there’s a recession on, the place was pretty rammed with foodies tucking in on a midweek evening which says a lot about the food and Roast’s reputation. I passed an awful lot of half empty/completely empty restaurants walking to the restaurant too which speaks volumes. Roast is situated inside Borough Market (proper foodie heaven of course) and enjoys an elevated position on the the corner by The Market Porter.

Prices weren’t cheap, but equally represented reasonable value (starters £7-9, mains £15-25) for a restaurant of this standing. I had the beef hash with coddled egg (coddled, how good a word is that?) and mustard and for mains I had spit roasted chicken with bread sauce and twice fried chips. My companion had the same to start and a huge slab of cod for his main (no wonder there’s no cod left in the sea, Roast are serving it all up). The wine list was ridiculously long and as they don’t have a house wine (which I think is a con) we opted for an Aussie Shira Bili Bili which was suitably big and did its job very well.

If you had a spare hour the wine list could have been digested but as the waiter didn’t know the first thing about wine, that was a letdown. At these prices, a Sommelier would have been good. A quibble though, in an otherwise enjoyable and lively evening in a cool and very happening place. Highly, highly recommended. Staff were super friendly too.

On my way back, walked past an amazing cheese gaff too – Neals Yard I think. Wowsa.

Corporate at Piazza by Anthony 1st March 2009

Apologies for the delay but to say thing are busy is the understatement of the year. We arranged a lunch and Rugby World cup jaunt for select 22 clients/colleagues. Leeds Rhino’s were trying to retain their World Club Challenge title against Manley of Australia but instead of doing the box at Elland Road, Dawn/Rosanna and myself came up with a 6 course gourmet lunch at Anthony’s, Exec Coach to Elland Road, Rugby match and return to Anthony’s for Cheese and nightcaps. We started at Whitelocks with a couple of pints of real ale then on to Anthony’s for pre lunch drinks, lunch consisted of 6 superb dishes;

Pea and Ham Hock Veloute

Pork Belly with Scallop and sweet potato puree

Wild fillet of Sea Bass with tomato and mussels

Roast Lamb with pomme fondant and roast jus

Pear Crumble with blackberry icecream

Vanilla pannacotta with all buttered shortbread

Wines were a Rioja and Petit Chablis

The match didn’t go to plan as the Rhino’s were beaten by a very talented Manley side 28-20.

A fantastic selection of cheeses from the Fromagerie was laid out for our return.

We can honestly say that our guests and ourselves were truly wowed. The service was top draw and the experience incredibly memorable, we will use the formula again. All in £150 per head including the Rugby.

G&D

The Cheeseboard

In preparation for the Globe Troffers cheese and wine evening I paid a visit to the rather excellent cheese emporium in Harrogate as recommendended by my good friend Craig.

In search of something rather special for the evening’s festivities, I was seeking the seriously strong Cabrales that I’d sampled in Madrid. It had to be ordered and along with that I bought a rather amazing Calvados Camembert and a goats cheese affair that was wrapped in chestnut leaves that had the distinctive taste of the earth. Unfortunately its name passed me by, but I still have a copy of the label so I can be sure to get some more.

The Calvados Camembert won the overall grand prix for the evening, if there was such a thing, and we had a brilliant time sampling mental cheese, wine, port and sherry combinations. Special mention has to go to Tony’s Falachan (not sure it’s spelt correctly as it resulted in a google zero) a crazy, cheese flavoured wine from the highlands made from fermented whey. It sounds bonkers I know, but it worked.

John and Linda went completely local with their beer and local cheese selection, full marks for cheesn ale  carbon footprint minimalism. Full marks to Dawn for designing her very own point of sale device to sell her cheese to the massed Trotter hordes: no need, the mild creamy affair from Ireland ( I think) won full marks for sheer smoothosity (not a real word). Tess threw down the gauntlet with a cheeky, honey falvoured, nut filled bad boy that went down well with the sweet tooth brigade.

All good. And on top of that, we reviewed the hog roast photographs which proved to be a perfect documentary of one of the most perfect days I can remember.