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Sunday, 22 February 2009

Cheddar Gorge, Wiltshire

Some time back, there was a ruling that said only cheese made in Parma, Italy could be called Parmesan cheese (obviously not if it’s actually Stilton or something, I meant if it was actually parmesan cheese to begin with). This meant that supermarkets selling parmesan cheese not made in Parma had to then re-name their cheese ‘hard Italian cheese’.

Descriptive and cost-efficient at the same time.

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A quick search on Google shows that there is no such restriction on Cheddar cheese, and cheese can be called Cheddar even if they are made in Scotland. There is a ruling, however, that says that the specific name of ‘West Country Farmhouse Cheddar’ is restricted by EU ruling so I guess there is some sort of rule here after all.

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Cheddar Caves is found in Cheddar Gorge, which is in Wiltshire. On the way to the caves, the view was really quite amazing, so much so that I didn’t take any pictures (was busy being in awe of the view). Thus, I’ll have to rely on my descriptive skills (good) to explain what it’s like.

Imagine one really gigantic hill made of limestone, and that this hill has one side which is almost 90 degrees vertical. Now imagine another hill, identical to this one, but facing it so that both the 90 degree sides are about 10 metres from each other. Now, imagine winding roads between these two hills, and that you’re driving through this gigantic gorge. Both sides of the hills are so high that when you look up, you can hardly see the sky. This stretches on a little, and then you’re back in open air, and the first thing you see is the quaintest little village ever, full of green trees and dew-dropped leaves.

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Thing is, we’re here for the cheese.

This little town is big on cheese. Everything has the word Cheddar on it. Even the 2 takeaways in that town have the word Cheddar on them. It was quite surprising really to see takeaways here, considering the fact that it didn’t seem to be a residential town, and if you were a tourist here, surely the last thing you’ll want to have is sweet and sour chicken, or curry. I suppose if you don’t like cheese, perhaps you might want some sweet and sour, or curry.

Subliminal messaging not quite effective, then.

To get into the caves, we each bought an ‘Explorer’ ticket, which is gives you admission into Gough’s Cave, Cox’s Cave, and some other cave areas (there were quite a few). All this for £15 (pricey, I know).

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Once inside the cave though, it kinda gets a little darker and colder.

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Water drops fall from the top of the caves, dripping down to form stalagmites.

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Through the centuries, the larger stalactites have broken off (gravity and all that), but some of the stalactites have water dripping off them, forming stalagmites at the bottom, and they meet halfway eventually.

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A pool of still water in the caves, reflecting the image above it.

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Closer look at it, nice isn’t it.

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I was there for the cheese. Nice scenery, fabulous caves, but where is the cheese.

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See it made, try it, choose it? Just you stop me. With free chutney, and lots of cheese in little cubes ready to be eaten, I was up and away.

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This little lot have been cave-matured. When I was in the cave, I actually saw shelves with barrels of cheese, whether or not they were real cheese I’m not sure.

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This is what the cheese machine looks like.

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Cheese made from ewe’s milk. Ewe might know it but if ewe don’t, this is cheese made from the milk of female sheep.

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Chilli cheese.

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With that much cheese on the shelves, I had to buy something.

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Cow has milk. Milk is cheese.

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6 comments:

KimHo said...

The pictures look great!

Regarding Parmesan, I think the designation of Parmesan is only applicable to EU, as here in Canada and when I was in Panama, Parmesan is usually used to refer to the grated cheese product. Instead, here it is referred to as Parmigiano-Reggiano. Tomato, tomato?

As a funny side question, what is the usual colour of the cheddar cheese? Although you can find the off-yellow one, you also see a lot the almost orange one, as well.

monchichi said...

Hi Kim, you might be correct there about the EU ruling, but it's also quite a new one so I'm not sure how long it's been effective for. Parmigiano-Reggiano is the full Italian name, if I'm not mistaken.
Cheddar cheese colours depend on how strong they are. From what I've seen, the stronger they are, the darker yellow, sometimes orange they tend to be.

The cheese meister said...

Most cheddar cheese is the colour shown in the post.....The orange one you refer to may be red leicester cheese. But you won't find that in cheddar. Mentioning leicester in cheddar may get you chased out and cheese thrown at you..:-)

Anonymous said...

This is really interesting. Never knew so much history and nature go into the making of a cheese.
"A Cheese is not just a Cheese" anymore!!

monchichi said...

The reference was to the song wasn't it???

Anonymous said...

Yes ha ha from a old classic Casablanca, if I am not mistaken. But seriously, not many people knows that so much efforts, skills and equipment put into cheese making, especially the "common and popular" Cheddar.

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