This week the lovely folk at Barber’s, the world’s oldest cheddar producer all the way from England, invited me to the Fine Foods Show to sample some of their vegetarian friendly vintage reserve cheddar.
What makes cheese vegetarian friendly? Barber’s product 1833 is free of animal rennet.This might not sound like a big deal but interestingly in the Australian market, most cheeses DO contain animal rennet. This means having to carefully read the ingredients when shopping for cheese to find products that are free of animal rennet.
Don’t know what I’m talking about? Animal rennet comes from the stomach of newborn calves, lambs, and kids (baby goats). SO NOT COOL.
Since 1833 six generations of the Barber family have been farming and making cheese in Somerset, near Cheddar. In talking to the team you can see just how passionate these farmhouse cheesemakers are about their traditional processes and the final product.
The cheddar is matured for a minimum of two years which creates a rich flavour. Like with bread, cheese needs a starter which is good bacteria added to the milk and the Barber’s family turn the curd by hand. Barber’s are also the only producers of a traditional starter culture collection remaining in the UK.
The cheddar was great to taste – it’s got good bite and is surprisingly creamy. I think it would be perfect on a cheese platter with a nice glass of red. It’s also good to cook with as you’ll see in this recipe.
- Asparagus and cheddar tarts
- 500g asparagus
- 1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry, cut into 2
- 5 Tbs mascarpone or cream cheese
- 85g Barber's 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar, grated
- Grated lemon zest ½ lemon
- Avocado oil for drizzling
- Heat oven to 200°C / 390°F.
- Trim the asparagus so that each stalk measures about 15cm. Bring a pan of water to boil, add the asparagus and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain and pat try with kitchen paper.
- Place the pastry rectangles on a baking tray lined with baking paper and score with a 2cm border.
- Mix together the mascarpone, grated cheese and lemon zest and spread over the pastry sheet, staying inside the border.
- Lay asparagus spears on the pastry bases and drizzle with a little oil.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until crisp and golden.
- Serve with salad leaves.
vegeTARAian was gifted a block of Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar, the ingredients and recipe booklet.