Barber’s 1833 Reserve Vintage Cheddar and cider brandy!

English mature cheddar cheese. Until I came to England, I had no idea what mature cheddar cheese was. Sure I’d had SHARP cheddar cheese (and didn’t really care for it, too sharp!). I have to admit, my favourite cheese used to be Monterey Jack – no snickering, please. In my defense, our tastebuds do advance with us as much as any other part of our bodies and I’ve long since moved on but English mature cheddar I could never really get my tongue around. A wee tiny bit was all I could stand. That is,until…duh,duh,duhhh…Barber’s 1833  Vintage Reserve English cheddar. I was on a weekend trip to the Somerset and it’s environs last week and our first stop was Barber’s Farmhouse where they have been making cheese since the early 1800’s. They still use the traditional cheese cultures from them and quite frankly, don’t know what exactly constitutes their yeast mix. They can guarantee though, that they are indigenous yeasts.They use about 16 different cultures to make their cheeses but as they are undefined mixtures, they can never replicate the cheese exactly. They believe that their cheeses should reflect the diversity of the organism. Let nature take it’s course, so to speak. The lovely fellows of Barber showed us first how to “iron” cheese. Basically it’s a tube that’s been cut in half lengthwise with a handle on one end. You plunge the sharp end into the cheese and pull out a cylinder of cheese. Much like winemakers use winethieves to sample the wine in barrel, the iron is the same with the cheese. We first “ironed” their 3 month old aged cheddar. It was mild and buttery, very subtle flavours, kind of reminded me of American mild cheddar. The next one we tried was a year old. Now were talking. More cheesy flavours coming through but still quite mild and creamy. The next cheese was aged 1 year and much more intense cheesy flavours. A rich buttery-ness washing over with a slight nutty...

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The Scots have an alcohol problem

Here’s an old Scottish joke to start off today. “Alcohol is your trouble” said the sheriff to the drunk. “Alcohol alone is responsible for your present predicament.” The drunk looked pleased as he said, “Yer lairdship’s maist kind. A’body else says it’s ma ain fault!” Substitute Scottish government for sheriff and you can see how the Scots have come up with these new proposals to tackle alcohol abuse. Here are their latest efforts: 1. Create a separate checkout line at the supermarket. A sort of walk of shame, if you will. If anything this would just aggravate me but I’d still get in line. People who drink til they puke in the streets are probably pretty oblivious to the whole “walk of shame” thing. All that proposal does is inconvenience shoppers. 2. A ban on sales to under 21’s in shops. But only in shops. If you want to nip down to the pub or go to a bar or restaurant and you’re under 21 then that’s ok. Does this make any sense at all? I’ve seen plenty of drunken teenagers hanging out of pubs on a Friday nite here in London, I don’t think it’s any different up North. 3. The last proposal is a 35 pence per unit tax on alcohol. It’s the same old tax and spend. I wonder what that money is earmarked for? Raising taxes doesn’t seem to work, all it does is penalize responsible drinkers and add money to the government coffers. What they should do is ensure that supermarket beers, ciders and alcopops are reasonably priced. If you can walk into a supermarket and buy beer for 20p a can, there is something wrong with the pricing policy. Lumping wine into this category is just plain wrong in my view. How many kids get drunk on a Cotes du Rhone or Bordeaux? Cider and beer are cheaper and (from the binge drinkers point of view) taste better and get you drunk faster. Rather then coming up with...

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