by Patricia Michelson
 21 April 2024

The past week has seen a lot of different weather patterns, which is expected at this time of year; but the main focus of attention has been the colour green.  From the trees popping their green leaves, the lush grass, the tips of shrubs bursting out of their papery skin buds;  we are seeing the season come alive to bring a fresh and lively growth spurt.  We should all take time to look around and see how things are changing.  It lifts our spirits and also puts to bed the chill of winter with its short days and long nights.  As the days get longer we are looking forward to more colour on our plates with the vegetables and fruits but also when it comes to cheese we will see the myriad of goat cheeses that appear from now until the end of October.
We have already seen an early start to Asparagus this year; what a surprise when we heard that a grower in Cambridge had enough to send us.  They are tasting sweet and bright; just lightly steam for a matter of minutes and pour melted butter and a scrunch of sea salt.  Another easy recipe is to steam the asparagus spears and then toss in new season’s olive oil, we have just got in a superb Centonze Sicilian extra virgin oil tasting grassy with a little back heat; finish off with grated Ricotta Salata.  Alessandro our head chef took advantage of this early appearance and used the asparagus in a Risotto with wild garlic and he topped the dish with crumbled Piedmontese Robiola pur Capra.  
Just as Mont d’Or finished its season, so the fresh Loire goat cheeses started to appear, and now the delicate Rhone Alpes and Provencal cheeses are coming into the Cheese Rooms and also onto the restaurant boards we supply.  We are going to be topping small button goat cheeses with crushed Baies Roses; a lovely way to bring the peppercorn heat to the tart freshness of the cheese.  As the weather heats up and the fresh herbs are in abundance, we’ll finely chop and then roll the fresh little cheeses in the fragrant herbs and then drizzle with olive oil;  a perfect lunch dish with salad and crusty bread.
The British goat cheeses and also the cow and ewe’s cheeses from Britain and Ireland are making their presence felt in the cheese rooms too.  My online cheeseboard has dipped into several countries to show just how flavours and styles meld together to make the perfect seasonal change.  Enjoy with white wines as well as lighter reds, or even one of the stylish beers and ciders that British producers are so good at developing now.  However, the great acidity of Spring cheese does lend itself to the natural style wines too and we have a Riesling as well as a dry Muscat – both from Kirmann, as well as Roc Ambulle with its light petillant style from Le Roc … if you haven’t tried this yet it will certainly surprise those who have not yet embraced the more natural style of winemaking.
My Spring Cheeseboard is:
Fleur de Chevre, Charente-Poitou, Goat
St Jude, Suffolk, Cow
Laguiole, Auvergne, Cow
Alpe Bergkase, Austria, Cow
Durrus, Co. Cork, Cow
Bleu de Basque, Pyrenees, Ewe
Purchase the board here
We’re hoping for plenty of rain to soak into the land and be the ‘reservoir’ for the dry summer months; Spring can be very wet but it’s all for the good whether pasture, field or rivers.  Get back into your childhood days and jump the puddles.