As a cheese fiend, Ive been keen to get my hands on some Barbers 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar ever since in won last years gold medal at the World Cheese Awards.
Ive now got some, and it is a joy: strong and tangy, with a creamy texture and a slight crunch from (I presume) salt crystals within. Beautiful.
The cheese is the worlds oldest Cheddar, made by six generations of the Barber at Maryland Farm in Ditcheat, Somerset since 1833.
WCA judge John Farrand whose family started the awards more than 25 years ago, said: œ œWhat makes Barbers distinct is the science of its starter cultures. This is at the heart of good cheddar and Barbers have the expertise to tweak the recipe depending on the starter culture used, for subtle but fascinating differences.
œThere are lots of artisan cheeses out there, but dont assume that just because somethings made in small batches its necessarily good. They often are, but sometimes with artisan food producers you get inconsistency and faults.
Now, I do enjoy cooking with cheese, but I tend to opt for a cheaper supermarket brand for the purpose.
For me, a Cheddar like Barbers 1833 is right up there with Keens, Westcombe, Isle of Mull and Montgomerys, and should be enjoyed pure, with only a cracker and pickles for company.
According to John, the best way to serve is as follows: œCheese must be able to breathe before its served. At home I keep cheese in a sealed box in the fridge then take it out at least 2 hours before eating and lay a clean damp tea towel over it.
But after a browse of the Barbers website, Ive been persuaded that 1833 is also a great cooking cheese, so I modified their recipe for Barbers Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms.
Here are my results a plump, earthy mushroom filled with Barbers 1833, chopped onion, cream cheese, thyme leaves and breadcrumbs. It was delicious served with back bacon on buttered toast.
Barbers have plenty of recipes on their website or You Tube channel. Heres their step-by-step guide to this Portobello mushrooms recipe. Perfect for breakfast or brunch.
¢ I was sent two blocks of Barbers 1833 Reserve Cheddar to review. I only feature products in the Recipe Shed that I feel I can honestly endorse.