The Cheese and Wine Corner at The Montagu, Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill

Sweet dreams are made of cheese…Who am I to dis a Brie! It was said that Sir Winston Churchill, who the luxurious Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill is named after, was a massive cheese lover and would indulge in a cheese board every day, especially after a meal. I mean what could be more sublime than that?

Taking inspiration from him, we headed over to the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill for the Cheese and Wine experience at The Montagu, the gorgeous restaurant housed inside the Hyatt, on a drizzly Sunday evening, and had an absolutely wonderful time. In fact we sat there for 2 hours, chatting whilst enjoying the cheese, wine and sherry and it was a splendid, and very charming way to spend our evening.

The ambience was amorous and relaxing, with a pianist playing classical and popular tunes in the background. She was really good and part of the reason why we found it so difficult to leave!

A good cheese board makes all the difference and the cheeses available are a selection of Alsop & Walkers finest cheeses. A lot of the cheeses are award winning cheeses and after you try them you can totally understand why! I truly appreciate the quality of cheese and will be on the hunt for Alsop & Walkers cheese after this.

We opted to sit on the high chairs at the counter and chat to Laszlo, who was explaining how the concept worked, and told us a little bit about each cheese, before artfully creating the ultimate cheese board for us to enjoy. You can choose to stand or return to your table if you are seated within the main restaurant too.

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At first, we were treated to a glass of Champagne, which was the perfect way to break the ice and relax, especially as the weather outside had been pretty horrific. Soon we were transported to cheese heaven!

The selection of Cheeses that we tried were a Sussex Truffle Brie, Lord London, Sussex Crumble, Sussex Farmhouse, Golden Cross Goats Cheese and a Sussex Blue.

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The best part of the experience (alongside eating the cheese), was how Laszlo talked us through each cheese, before slicing them like a pro! I certainly won’t be sharing pictures of my home made cheese boards after this!

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I learned so much about the cheese, and fun facts such as the Lord London, which is a semi soft bell shaped cheese,  was a bronze medal winner at the world cheese awards in 2010.

My absolute favourite was the Sussex Truffle Brie – an absolutely genius cheese, especially if you are a truffle fan. It was soft cows milk cheese with a layer of truffles in the centre sandwiched between the cheese and the aroma was just dreamy!

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To accompany each cheese, we had a selection of grapes, Quince jelly, Pickled yellow beetroot, Celery, Pecan nuts, Pine nuts, Pumpkin seeds and homemade gooseberry compote.

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Freshly made potato and grilled breads were a welcome treat too as were a variety of crackers which included classic, wheat, dried fruit and charcoal flavours.

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The selection of sliced cured meats were delectable and we were spoilt with Parma Ham, Smoked Ham, Salami and Chorizo.

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Paired with the cheese, was a gorgeous red wine from South Africa, and Laszlo also suggested we tried the Sherry with the cheese.

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We were really well watered to say the least and thoroughly enjoyed trying the cheese with the various drinks!

The cheese board itself was literally the cheese board of dreams and this is how the final board looked.


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You can tell from the expression on my face that I was totally in my element and Amit already knew that we would be returning again for this experience!

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Literally the best cheese board I have ever enjoyed! The entire experience was delightful and it is a captivating and enchanting way to spend an evening. If you fancy a light supper but something different, this is absolutely perfect. Alternatively, you could take Winston Churchill’s habits and indulge after dinner!


There is nothing more romantic than sharing a cheese board and sipping on delicious wine while catching up and it is such a fabulous idea for a date night or even Valentine’s (hint hint). The concept works extremely well for a catch up with friends too or even a unique way to impress a business client.

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You can choose between two, four or six cheeses with the cured meats and a house red or white wine at varying prices. I can’t recommend this enough as an alternate to afternoon tea or just something different and indulgent, especially if you love cheese. It was splendid.

For more information about the Cheese and Wine corner click here.

I was a guest of the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill but all views and photos are my own.

 

 

Pairing Comté with Bubbles

Fizz and Comté Cheese. Is there a more superior combination?

One evening, a group of press and bloggers gathered at Buchanan’s Cheesemongers near Marble Arch, for an evening of pairing different ages of Comté Cheese with different sparkling wines hosted by Patrick McGuigan, renowned food writer, and a self confessed cheese geek who also happens to be an international cheese judge. How amazing is that?


After a variety of delicious nibbles, all cheese themed, and of which the truffled cheese was my absolute favourite, we sat down at our pre-allocated seats, in front of wine flavour and aroma wheel cards, in anticipation for lots of cheese and fizz.

We were given a talk about Comté and the region it is from by Patrick. He told us that Comté comes from the Jura Massif region of Eastern France, where it is made under strictly controlled AOC regulations. It is required that the cheese is only made from raw milk of Montbéliarde or French Simmental.   There can’t be an overpopulation of cows per hectare and they can only be fed fresh, natural feed.


We were then given a slate full of different cheese, each of differing ages, and began our homage to French fromage.

Starting with the 5-7 month Comté paired with La Gioiosa Prosecco 2015 (Glera), we tasted each cheese, taking sips (and towards the end gulps) of each paired glass of bubbles.


The first cheese was light, creamy and pillowy, and would be perfect as a breakfast cheese. A young, light and straightforward cheese with a lovely milky flavour, complimented perfectly with green crisp apple.

This Prosecco was delicious, a neutral grape with soft, slightly fruity and floral simple flavours, available from Waitrose. This particular Prosecco actually won the best Prosecco award and it is truly delightful, and easy and smooth to drink.

We then moved on to the second pairing, a 12-14 month Comte, which is usually the standard Comté age, paired with Cremant du Jura 2012 (Chardonnay). This was a slightly drier, darker colour cheese and had much nuttier, toasty flavours and a caramelly aroma.

The third was an 18 month Comté paired with Les Pionniers Champagne (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay). This had hints of more biscuit tones, nutty tones and aspects of mushroom were coming out for me. This was actually my favourite out of the various cheeses. The champagne was fruity and easy to drink.

Next was a 22 month Comté paired with Ridgeview Rose de Noirs 2013 (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier), which I felt worked better with the 18 month cheese more. There seemed to be a split about this in the room. The cheese was sweeter, creamier and nuttier with an earthier aroma, and the Rose wine was lush.

The final pairing was a 30 month winter milk Comté paired with Billecart-Salmon Sous Bois (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier Chardonnay). Comté is not usually made from winter milk but this was sensational, though a much bolder, stronger cheese. Winter milk made cheese is usually also whiter but this had a golden tinge. The sparkling wine had the body and texture to go with a stronger cheese.

The whole evening was such a delight and I learned so much about identifying different flavours within cheese and what type of sparkling wine complimented each cheese. I traditionally always have cheese with red wine so it was lovely to experience it with a different type of wine.

The cheese was absolutely delicious, and even whilst typing this up I am now craving Comté Cheese again. I am however, slightly better educated about cheese and somewhat on my way to become an International Cheese Judge (one day). 

Have you tried Comté Cheese? Do you have a preference in age?

The perfect cheese on toast

Everyone has their favourite way of making the humble cheese on toast and for me it has to be made with gruyere cheese, red chilli jam and garnished with thyme.

I toast the bread first, butter it and layer it with grated gruyere cheese. I then season it with a little bit of salt and pepper and then place it on a foil lined baking tray for 4 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees celsius.

Once the cheese has melted, I spread chilli jam on top and garnish with thyme. It tastes amazing and is perfect for a quick meal or light lunch.

My choice of chilli jam is the Tracklements Red Chilli Jam which is so delicious! I could eat it with a spoon but have to stop myself (after a few spoons).

Tracklements kindly sent me lots of different condiments and sauces to try ranging from the classic tomato ketchup, mustard, rosemary jelly and of course the red chilli jam among others.

 

This was my favourite and am so pleased to now have a full jar!

For more information on Tracklements and stockists go to http://www.tracklements.co.uk

What is your favourite way to eat cheese on toast?

Paneer cooked in a Methi & Tomato gravy

Whenever I find fresh Fenugreek/Methi leaves in a grocery store they are a must buy. I love the scent and the flavour they give to a dish. Cooked with paneer and tomatoes, it is certainly a taste marriage made in heaven.

Ingredients:

  • 200 grams cubed paneer
  • 1/2 cup chopped methi
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons single cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon amchur (mango) powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Method:

  1. In a food processor, blitz together the garlic, ginger and chilli to make a paste.
  2. In a kadai, heat the oil on medium heat and add the cumin seeds.
  3. When they start to sizzle, add the onions and cook for 6 minutes.
  4. Now add the ginger, garlic and chilli paste and let this cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the methi and mix well. Let this cook for around 4 minutes, stirring regularly.
  6. Now add the tomatoes, 1/2 cup water and spices. Mix well and cover the pan and let it cook for 6 minutes.
  7. Now add the paneer and single cream and stir.
  8. Cover the pan again and let this cook for 8 minutes so that all the flavours infuse.
  9. Once ready, serve hot with chapatis or rice.

 

Baked Camembert infused with, Garlic, Thyme and Rosemary

Baked Camembert is my guilty pleasure, with a glass of wine on the side. It tastes amazing and is ready in 20 minutes. 

 I love using herbs to infuse it with fragrant and delicious flavours, and my favourite herbs to use are thyme and rosemary.

These herbs are incredibly easy to grow at home and cooking with fresh herbs really does make such a big difference to the taste of a dish. 

I would really recommend trying to grow herbs at home if you don’t already.

  

Ingredients:

  • 250 grams Camembert
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • Pinch of crushed black pepper
  • Crusty bread and sliced apples to dip into the camembert.

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. Take the camembert out of the wrapper and place back into the round box.
  3. Cut 2 slits crossways in the camembert.
  4. Chop the garlic into small chunks and spread them inside the camembert within the slits.
  5. Now add thyme and rosemary leaves inside the slits too.
  6. Garnish with salt and pepper and drizzle the olive oil all over the top.
  7. Place the camembert on a foil lined baking tray and bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Enjoy by dipping chunks of crusty bread and sliced apples in it.

This recipe is my entry into the #CTGrowYourOwn campaign.  For more information about Cotton Traders and their campaign go to: http://www.cottontraders.com/uk/page/grow-your-own

Asparagus, Thyme, Spring onion and Gruyere Quiche

  
I love a good quiche as they are easy to make, versatile in terms of ingredients, and  taste absolutely delicious. I have used my favourite vegetables and herb in this version, which uses asparagus, thyme and spring onion, and made it that extra bit special with my favourite cheese, Gruyere cheese.

Makes enough for 1 big ramekin or 2 small ramekins. I used a Denby Ramekin.*

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 egg whites
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup grated gruyere cheese
  • 8 thin asparagus stalks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper
  • Olive oil

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.
  2. Grease the ramekin with olive oil.
  3. Place the eggs, egg whites, cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and spring onions in a food processor and blitz.
  4. Cut 4 asparagus stalks in half, and reserve 4 to garnish the ramekins with later.
  5. Put the 4 cut asparagus stalks in the ramekin and drizzle olive oil over it.
  6. Pour the egg mixture over them until the ramekin is 3/4 filled.
  7. Place the ramekin on a baking tray, and beside it place the extra asparagus stalks. Drizzle oil over the asparagus.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes.
  9. Once ready, carefully put the 4 asparagus stalks on top to decorate it.
  10. Season with a little salt and pepper and eat hot.

*The Denby Ramekin I used is in Jet Black and is available from Denby online as well as some stores. http://www.denby.co.uk/premium-cookware/jet-black-ceramic-2pc-ramekinsouffle/invt/023010721