If you don't like cheese or are on a diet, then please look away now.

Cathedral City set me a challenge to try their new Cathedral City Mature Lighter and compare it with their regular Mature Cheddar.

Cathedral City Mature Lighter has 30% less fat than their regular mature cheddar, so I was interested to see if it would melt as well as their regular cheese.

It didn't take me long to decide that macaroni cheese would be a good taste test to compare the two cheeses. I made the cheese sauce the same way I always do. A simple recipe my mum taught me.

I made my white sauce, then poured it into two pans, one for each of the Cheddars. I mixed macaroni though each of the sauces, poured them into ovenproof dishes and topped with a sprinkling of cheddar before cooking in the oven until golden and bubbling.

The lighter cheddar melted beautifully, as did the full fat cheese. You really couldn't tell the difference at this point.

Once they were cool enough to try, we dipped in. They were both good, and the texture was the same, but the full fat version had a more mature flavour. Graham did a blind test and was able to pick out the full fat cheese although he enjoyed both versions.

If I was on a diet, I would definitely use this cheese, but until they do a lighter version of their extra mature or vintage, then I will be sticking with the full fat cheddar. I like my cheddar to pack a punch and this is too mellow for me.

vive le cheese

And now on to my cheese and wine tasting at Peckhams in Glasgow.

The theme was French cheese as you can probably guess from the title. We tasted 10 different cheeses and enjoyed some rather fine chardonnay and merlot.

The cheeses were not marked as vegetarian, but I am not overly upset about that. When I buy cheese for myself, I always buy vegetarian, but when I am out in restaurants, I do not quiz them on their cheeses, so there seemed little point in making an issue of it. I know for some other people this would be unacceptable, but we all have to make our own choices. Anyway, back to the tasting.

The tasting was led by Roving Fromagière and general cheese whiz Phoebe Weller. They really couldn't have chosen anyone better to lead us through the cheeses. Phoebe has a real love affair with cheese and is so animated and excited about cheese that she had us enthralled and equally excited as we tasted them. Here are a few photos from the event before I show you the cheeses we tasted.

You may notice in some of the photos it looks like we were snorting the cheese. Well, you are close. The cheese had been out for a few hours to warm to room temperature, but Pheobe had us warm them further by rolling and squidging each cheese in our hands. This was also so we could become familiar with the texture before smelling each cheese. We chatted about the scents of the cheese in much the same way you would with a wine.

The girl in pink is my good friend Hilary, who is a real foodie and was already familiar with a lot of the cheeses on offer and the last photo is one of myself and Chele from Chocolate Teapot. It was lovely meeting Chele at last and she is as nice in person as she is on her blog.

Looking at myself in that photo, I am thinking a diet may be a good thing for me, to lose all those pounds I gained when I was pregnant and haven't shifted over a year later. I am hovering over the delete button as we speak!

Now, do remember I am no expert, I am just adding the notes I scribbled down at the time. Use the links for a more accurate description of each cheese.

vive le cheese

10 French Cows Cheeses

1. Tomme de Savoie

This was our first and mildest cheese. My notes say "oily, well-matured, mild and buttery.

2. Emmental

We are all familiar with this holey cheese. Another mild one. I wrote "rubbery, sweaty with bite/tang. Temperature is increased week after week. High heat and low humidity. Oxygen and carbon dioxide explode, causing the holes and salt encourages a rind to develop".

3. Saint Nectaire

A washed rind cheese. Young, 2-6 weeks old. This one can't have over excited me as I didn't write anything else, although I remember not thinking much of the first and last cheeses and loving the rest. Maybe I was too busy munching and slurping to write more.

4. Camembert

This Camembert from Normandy is made from unpasteurised milk. It has mould around the outside rather than a rind and is also quite young. From 4-6 weeks old. It smells like cauliflower or broccoli. This Camembert is wetter than a standard Camembert.

5. Brie

This Brie has a drier and crisper mould than the Camembert and is creamy and soft.

6. Comté

I am in love with this cheese and apparently the French are too. It is one of the most popular cheese over the channel. I wouldn't even bother having anything with this cheese, it would just spoil the experience. To be nibbled and savoured! Comté is a sweet, firm cheese and almost honey-scented. It comes in 45 kilo wheels which is made from the milk of 45 cows. This is a co-op cheese from the Eastern mountains of France. The curds are cooked and milked and it is brine washed in chardonnay to make the distinctive rind. Notice how I really paid attention to the details on this one. you can tell it made an impression on me.

7. Petit Langres

This 3 week old cheese was originally made by 12th century monks, who would eat this on days when they weren't allowed to eat meat. It was originally washed in champagne, but is now brine washed. Salty, full flavour.

8. Epoisses

Invented at the beginning of the 16th century by Cistercian monks, died out in 1900 and was brought back after the Second World War by Robert Berthaut. A young washed rind cheese.

9. Bleu de Causses

This cheese is AMAZING! I feel I should shout that. It is a 10-12 week old blue. It is wrapped in foil to encourage the blue to form faster. This one is tangy and salty and melts very well.

10. Bleu d'Auvergne

This blue is so blue it is almost grey. It is spicier than the Bleu de Causses and not so good to melt. It is salty and brine washed. I wasn't so keen on this one.

So there we go. I don't know about you, but I am all cheesed out! I hope you enjoyed that and picked up some ideas. My two top picks have to be the Comté and the Bleu de Causses, but I will leave you to make up your own mind. Do let me know if you try any of these cheeses.

I almost forgot to tell you that Hilary and I had a wonderful day in Glasgow before we went to the tasting. We meet up with my friends David and Tanita in Tapela, where we were treated royally. you may remember I posted about Tapela. Well, this time I was disappointed that they didn't still have their Goats Cheese and Caramelised Onion Pizza which was utterly amazing. On voicing my disappointment, the waiter had a chat with the chef, who especially made us a full size pizza.

It was really, really good. I will be making more return visits. I must apologise for our paltry tip. I realised after we left that we hadn't calculated very well. Whoops. Here's hoping this mention will go some way to making up for it.
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