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Monday, 9 July 2012

Melton Mowbray - Cheese, Pies and Traditional Sweets

Last Tuesday I visited Melton Mowbray. The Olympic torch was passing through that day so the town was in carnival mood.   A stage had been set up in the market square before which all the teenagers were performing curious ritual dances.

Enough of anthropology. I had come to the town because it calls itself the food capital of rural England.  Its most famous products are, of course, pork pies and Stilton cheese.   I have already mentioned pork pies so this time I will talk about cheese.

Stilton is a blue cheese like Roquefort and Gorgonzola.   Like those cheeses it is protected by a PDO (protected designation of origin). It can be made only in the counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire which, ironically, excludes Stilton in Cambridgeshire where the cheese is said to have originated. I am told that it takes 78 litres of milk to make 8 kilos of cheese and that it is the blue veins that give it flavour.  Those veins are caused by bacteria and are in fact a type of mold.Not all bacteria is harmful. This actually is penicillin as this type of bacteria is good for you would you believe......

As this was my first visit to Melton - even though it is only a few miles from Leicester where there is a large Gujarati community - I asked a car park attendant where I could buy some Stilton cheese.  He directed me  to "Ye Old Pork Pie Shoppe" which, despite its name, sells a lot of things other than pork pies.
Plum bread which you see in the photo particularly took my fancy.   I bought some cheese which was really creamy and some delicious fruit cake to eat with it.  

Nevertheless, the main merchandise was  pies. Mainly pork but also lots of other fillings including some with  combinations of Stilton cheese. Melton pies are very different from Yorkshire ones.  Here is a photo of the chap who makes them.
And as you can see lots and lots and lots of pies.  The red ones are the kind you can buy in Wait rose or Sainsburys. They are made by machines.The white ones, however, are hand made and you have to go to Melton Mow bray to get those.

Pies and  cheese are not the only culinary delights in Melton.   It has a traditional sweet shop with everything from flying saucers to tablet. Take a shufti at this lot.   Tasting as good they looked.

My last stop in town was the magnificent parish church.  There I met a very nice gent called Keith who has been the town's Father Christmas for the last four decades.  He told me that there were 400 Christmas trees in church last year.  It must have been a glorious sight. I lit a candle for my Dad although I am not Christian or even religious.  Keith gave me the biggest hug when it was time to leave.   He said it was from my Dad.

So now  here are some tips on how best to use Silton. First tip eat it straight of the block - it''s too good  to monkey around with. Secondly, it's very good with pears and port.   Thirdly, as an alternative to port, try a glass of Alsatian Rielsling vendage tardive or, better still, Gewurtztraminer..

1 comment:

  1. According to the website of the village of Stilton in Cambridgeshire there is a campaign to permit Stilton cheese to be made in Stilton (see http://www.stilton.org/cam_stilton_cheese.html).