Rupert Ponsonby, director at R&R, an agency specialising in helping food and drinks brands, restaurants and chefs to grow their profiles in a competitive market, and Jeremy Bowen, sales manager at specialist cheese monger Paxton & Whitfield, talk us through their cheese and drinks pairings, many of which can be found at this year’s Speciality & Fine Food Fair.
Jeremy’s cheese selection: “Anster, from the St Andrews Cheese Company, takes its name from the local fishing town of Anstruther a few miles along the coast. This cheese was the first that we made and is a ‘Cheshire-style’ recipe. Typically aged for two to four months, during which time it naturally develops a thin grey edible rind. It also has a crumbly texture which dissolves in the mouth to give a full flavour, and a lingering ‘lemony’ tang on the finish.”
Rupert (pictured) pairs Anster with Biddenden Strong Medium Cider, 8.5% ABV. “This has all the acidity and bittersweet qualities to allow it to merge excitingly with the full flavour and lemony tang of the Anster cheese. They do a dry one as well.” Rupert also recommends India Pale Ales or Beaujolais.
Jeremy’s cheese selection: “Manouri from Epiros is a soft whey cheese with rich aromas and flavour. It is best served with fruits, nuts and honey. It can also be served plain or accompany any dish.”
Rupert suggests two drinks that pair well with Manouri. “Kold Elderflower Martini should be a real excitement, a perfect fruitful foil to the creaminess of the cheese, or Renegade Elderflower Sparkling Wine, 12% ABV, a gently fruited creature, both dry and floral. I’d also often pair this cheese with creamy, peppery vodkas such as Black Cow, made from whey, or Copper Rivet’s Vela.
Jeremy’s cheese selection: “Garrotxa from Brindisa is a reinvention of a traditional cheese of the region; it has a rind covered with a grey natural mould, pel florida, and a bone white, dense, semi-hard paste. The aromas are fresh and lightly acid, the flavour has notes of citrus and mountain herbs.”
Rupert pairs Garrotxa with Oak Villa Gin with low-cal or Mediterranean tonic. His second pairing suggestion is Newton House Gin with low-cal tonic. “For most people cutting the gin with tonic is necessary because it takes the rapier-like edge off the gin, whilst letting it show its true botanic flavours. The Newton House Gin has pine, pepper, mint and English garden flavours – so should be a wonderful contrast to the cheese. I also like this cheese with Helles lagers, buttery Meursault or supple Chardonnays.”
Jeremy’s cheese selection: “Tunworth, from The Fine Cheese Co has the thinnest possible rind, an undulating surface, and a profoundly fruity tang. The Fine Cheese Co uses a very traditional recipe that not very many Camembert makers use as it is so difficult to make. The process includes a slow, overnight acidification, while the curds are hand-ladled into moulds and very gently handled.”
Rupert pairs Tunworth with Big Drop Stout, 0.5% ABV. “This beer won a gold medal at the International Beer Challenge and Silver at the World Beer Awards against full strength beers. It has flavours of cocoa nibs, coffee and lingering vanilla and should make for a fascinating combo. I’d also suggest Biddenden Gribble Bridge Rosé, 10.5% ABV, made with Dornfelder grapes with raspberry and rose aromas. I also like this cheese with lighter lagers such as Sol, or red wines from the Rhone or Languedoc/Roussillon, old red or white Burgundies and red Rioja.”
Gruyère AOP “Classic”
Jeremy’s final cheese selection: “A rather young cheese (six to nine months), Gruyère AOP “Classic” draws attention with its soft and refined taste, delighting palates in search of sweet pleasures.”
Rupert pairs Gruyère AOP “Classic” with a Kold Cosmopolitan combining vodka, cranberry and lime. “This has the acidity plus a powerful fruit and body, which acts like a fresh fruit condiment to this assertive young cheese. But it is devoid of the aggressive tannins of most red wines! I’d also enjoy this cheese with Oak-aged beers, IPAs, or the sweetness of Sercial and Bual Madeira.”