So, here’s the thing… Fruit cake and cheese. I adore fruit cake and I love cheese but put the two together and you get something altogether more wonderful. I was first introduced to this idea when I was sent a box of treats from a lovely lady called Marianne. Inside the box were lots of yummy delicacies from Sheffield where she lives. One such delicacy was a “Ginger Tickle” cake from Tipple Tails. On the label it said “For a delicious treat serve with a cup of tea or a wedge of strong cheese”. This got me thinking. Normally tea and cake is my thing. My regular readers will know how partial I am to a slice of cake and a good cuppa… But, I love cheese too! I needed to try this out for myself so when I had my friends Chloe and Sarah over a week or so ago we had a cheeseboard of local cheeses. Alongside the normal crackers and chutneys I sliced the “Ginger Tingle”. Oh my goodness. The salty, savoury taste of a good strong vintage cheddar from Quickes and the sweet, fruity cake was an instant winner. How could I have ever doubted it? I instantly got on Twitter to let the world know that cheese and fruit cake was a winning combo. I had to thank Marianne again for broadening my horizons and I had to tell Tipple Tails that I had been missing out on something pretty darn special for the first 40 years of my life! Jane, from Tipple Tails responded pretty much straight away. After a few tweets to and fro, she offered to send me a tasting box so my new found love could be explored further. She also sent me tasting notes of good cheese and fruit cake combinations. The cheeses that were used were understandably Yorkshire/Lancashire biased. So I thought it would be a fab idea to make my own tasting notes using Janes ideas but using cheeses more local to me as obviously they would be easier to find. Plus, I liked the idea of the northerners teaching the southerners about their traditions. That’s when I thought northern cakes with southern cheeses would be an ideal way of bringing the two together.
I recently went to Quickes farm which is a dairy farm specialising in award winning cheeses just outside Exeter. I spent a wonderful afternoon there exploring. I saw where the cows were milked and where the cheeses mature. I wanted to involve Quickes in my taste tests as I felt that they were close to my heart after visiting and trying many of their cheeses over the years. I popped along to the Real Food Store to pick up some Quickes cheeses for this particular taste test but obviously you can get a wonderful selection of cheeses from the farm shop at Quickes. I didn’t have the time to drive out there on this particular day so The Real Food Store was my port of call. I love it in there. Such a great selection of wonderful and local goodies. They have a pretty decent selection of local to me cheeses too.
Sharpham Rustic was another cheese that in my head resembled the texture of a Lancashire cheese. I haven’t compared the two side by side but thought that it would be a good alternative. Sharpham cheeses are fabulous and again, I have associations with the farm by way of the vineyard. My friend Chloe is married to Duncan who is the winemaker there. I have never visited the dairy but would love to.
I struggled to find any blue cheeses that were local and strong enough in flavour so I went for a traditional Stilton that I purchased from Chadnos Deli. Don’t get me wrong, there are some wonderful blue cheeses from the south west but I wanted something really strong in flavour. If anyone knows of any strong flavoured blue cheeses from the south west then please let me know so I can hunt them out.
Bursting with cherries, almonds and plump juicy vine fruits. Steeped in cherry and almond liquor.
I paired this cake with a wonderful Stilton. Creamy, nutty and salty all at the same time. The cheese works fabulously well with the almond and cherry flavours.
Packed with stem ginger, walnuts and plump juicy vine fruits. All steeped in a ginger liquor.
I paired this cake with Shapham Rustic. Smooth, creamy and slightly crumbly. Jane from Tipple Tails recommended a Lancashire cheese and I thought that this would be a great alternative and I was right!
Full of plump juicy sultanas and hazelnuts. Spiced with cinnamon and steeped in tummy warming cinnamon apple crumble liquor.
I paired this cake with a hard goats cheese from Quickes. A beautiful combination of flavours.
An indulgent chocolate fruit cake full of eastern flavours. Chocolate, pistachios, honey, cardamon and plump, juicy vine fruits. Steeped in a heady rose geranium and chocolate turkish delight Liquor.
I paired this with Quickes Vintage that is typically matured for 24 months. A strong cheddar with a bite. I love the taste of the cheese with the chocolate and rose flavours of the cake.
The whole process of this little tasting has been thoroughly enjoyable. The combinations of flavours, the salty with the sweet has opened my eyes and I will never look back. My cheeseboard will never be the same again!