Cheese Please

Food is always an important element of any holiday for me and this post was inspired by my last visit to France when my husband and I cycled to Paris with a couple of our good friends. I particularly like the regional dishes of the French Alps, which is why our skiing trip during the Christmas holidays was so perfect.

We stayed with some friends in St. Jean D’Aulps and they introduced us to their favourite eateries, one of which was a small village called Londarais. The specialty of Londarais is a wonderfully sharp goat’s cheese used to make Salad Chèvre Chaud, my friend Jane’s favourite lunch.

Back home in Brighton, I discovered some really good cheese in Infinity Foods, made just half an hour away in Horsted Keynes at the Sussex High Weald Dairy. This is a small gem in the heart of the countryside where the Hardy family has been making cheese for 25 years! Most of their cheese is made from sheep’s milk which has a higher protein content than dairy and is more easily digested. Obviously this is good news for those suffering from a milk allergy but another reason it is preferable to cow’s milk is because it contains 100 percent more calcium and 33 percent more vitamins, amino acids and minerals. So why not consider locally produced cheese when a recipe specifies a European cheese next time?

Sheep’s Cheese Salad

Serves 4

4 Organic Slipcote cheeses cheeses, each sliced into 2 rounds

8 slices of a large French baguette

1/4 pint of good olive oil

1 clove garlic

1 lettuce torn into pieces, use a strong tasting lettuce

1 fennel bulb, tough stalk removed and finely sliced

4 spring onions

small bunch of flat leaf parsley, shredded

20 walnuts halved

4 stalks of cherry tomatoes, each vine holding at least five tomatoes

For the Dressing:

3 tbs of olive oil

juice of half lemon and salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6 and turn on the grill. Place the tomato vines in the oven until evenly browned, this will take about ten minutes if your oven is already hot. Crush the garlic and mix with the oil, then pour on to a plate and dip in the bread so it is oiled on both sides. Lay the slices on the grill pan and toast on one side. Meanwhile, put the oil, lemon juice and seasoning into a large bowl, mix together and add all the salad ingredients. Toss until everything is evenly coated. Turn the toasts over, place one round of cheese on each and spread to reach the edges of the crust. Replace under the grill until golden and bubbling. Make a pile of the salad on the plate, place two toasts on top and finish with the stalk of roasted tomatoes.