I realise that it’s not particularly fashionable at the moment to be seen consuming dairy but frankly, I don’t give a stuff. I love cheese and I’m sure that there are plenty of other cheese-lovers out there, raiding the fridge for a cheeky bit of cheddar as I write. 'A Year in Cheese' will make those with a fromagerie fetish weep with sheer joy.
Alex and Leo Guarneri are the authors and brothers who run the acclaimed Androuet in London’s Spitalfields. This seasonal cheese shop has a long heritage in France, where the first of six Androuet fromageries opened in 1909. Today, the Spitalfields’ Androuet supplies many Michelin-star restaurants and has a renowned restaurant of its own. Alex and Leo come from a food-centric family: their mother Laurence Guarneri ran a food school in France and their grandfather was a food importer. Alex is a specialist cheese affineur and Leo is a trained chef.
The recipes are written by Alessandro Grano, Androuet’s head chef. His style is simple and he doesn’t like to have a lot of ingredients on his plate. The emphasis here is on fresh flavours and his aim is to create tastes “that make you feel at home”. Certainly, what really shines through is Alessandro’s stylish simplicity and the end result is what I would deem as elegant comfort food.
It’s a beautiful book. So much so that it caught a friend’s eye when they popped in for coffee and I was asked, “Do you gift your books to friends when you’ve reviewed them?” Sorry, my lovely, but this one is most definitely destined for my kitchen bookshelf. There are ten sections to this book, beginning with a detailed introduction to the brothers and their business ethos, and notes on the recipes by Alessandro. For a seasonal cheese shop, it makes sense that the recipes should be seasonally inspired and the next four sections are dedicated to Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
The images accompanying the recipes throughout the book are stunning, and there isn’t a single recipe that doesn’t make me feel hungry. Approximately two-thirds of the recipes are suitable for vegetarians and each details the origin and flavours of the featured cheese, giving an alternative if required. Forget the shrink-wrapped and foiled cheeses off the supermarket shelf, here you can indulge in the freshness of Spring with 'Clacbitou Souffles with Pea Coulis', a ridiculously simple 'Homemade Fresh Cheese' and 'Blancmange, Rhubarb, and Champagne and Almond Crumble'. At the end of each seasonal section, you will also find a suggestion for a cheeseboard using the best of that season’s cheeses.
Summer is the best time for cheese because, “The animals are outside grazing on fresh grass and producers can achieve some of the best-quality milk of the year”. Featuring Ricotta, Mozzarella and the soft cheeses, we can celebrate the warmer months with 'Buffalo Mozzarella with Pickled Baby Aubergine and Red Pepper Coulis', 'Feta and Watermelon Salad' and 'Fig and Ricotta Tart with Rum Custard'.
Autumn focuses on Cheddar, Gruyere and the semi-hard cheeses. Favourites in this section include 'Montgomery Cheddar and Pale Ale Rarebit with Cauliflower', 'Pork Belly with Sweet Potato Mash, Rainbow Kale and Aged Pecorino' and 'Roast Butternut Squash with Vintage Gouda'. Finally, with Winter comes Reblochon, Comté and the bold cheeses. Winter features some of my favourites from the entire book: 'Baked Camembert with Rosemary, Honey and Almonds', 'Tartiflette with Reblochon' and 'Cornish Blue Ice Cream with Caramelised Walnuts'.
The last two sections focus on Cheeseboards and the all-important Complimentary Wines. There are helpful suggestions on serving the perfect selection of cheeses and which wines you should serve them with, although it is said at the very end, that you, “should just have fun and drink your favourite wines with your favourite cheeses.” Sounds absolutely perfect to me!
For more information, visit: http://www.androuet.co.uk/
'A Year in Cheese' by Alex and Leo Guarneri, with recipes by Alessandro Grano and photography by Kim Lightbody, is published in hardback by Frances Lincoln at £20.