Monday, 19 April 2010
Crackin' Cheese Grommit........
What's she on about?.... I can hear you saying. Well I'll tell you.
Last Tuesday MWM and I went on a coach trip to Wallace and Grommit country, North Yorkshire.
We joined the 52 seater coach at 9.15 a.m. and stopped after an hour for a tea break before continuing our journey to Hawes, which is regarded as the capital of Upper Wensleydale and is said to be one of the highest market towns in England. Known affectionately by locals as T’Haas, this vibrant market town derives its name from the old Norse word ‘hals’, meaning a mountain pass or neck.
It was lunchtime when we arrived in Hawes and the coach driver dropped us right in the centre of the pretty little town saying he would pick us up there two hours later to take us to the Wensleydale Creamery. Conveniently he dropped us right outside The Crown pub which offered a varied menu, so that's where we had lunch, washed down with a pint of Theakston's Old Peculiar.
After lunch we decided to explore the main street and the market stalls which abounded, as it just happened to be market day.
There were lots of market stalls and interesting shops in Hawes, in particular we found a little Rock and Gem shop where I purchased this beautiful soapstone elephant to add to my collection.
When we'd set off from home the weather had been warm and sunny and I had dressed appropriately in a t-shirt and a light mac, unfortunately the sun deserted us and a biting wind had sprung up and I was freezing, so of course we had to take shelter in another of the many pubs in Hawes - The Old Board Inn. What do you mean any excuse???
See me in the bottom left hand corner? I look cold don't I? MWM went to the bar and got us another pint of Old Peculiar which we enjoyed in the warm atmosphere of the country pub, before it was time to get back on the coach for the five minute journey to the Wensleydale Creamery.
On arrival at the creamery our driver took us into the Creamery's museum for a demonstration of cheesemaking by hand.
One of the cheesemakers (blessed are the cheesemakers) brought in a bucket containing a gallon of warm milk to which he added starter and rennet. He told us that in the old days the rennet was obtained from calf's stomachs and was also made by boiling slugs and snails then using the liquid (YUK) but now they used a fungi. He left us to watch a ten minute video about the mechanised cheese making process and when the video finished he showed us how the milk had reacted by becoming jelly-like. He then proceeded to chop it and drained off the whey leaving the curds, which he squeezed and pressed until it was dry enough to press into a 500g container. He extracted the cheese from the container and wrapped it in muslin and put a Wallace and Grommit label on it.
After the demonstration we were able to walk though the small museum, where there was lots of old cheesemaking equipment.
Then we got to the best bit of the visit - the cheese-tasting! We went into the Creamery shop where all their cheeses were ready for us to sample and buy, yummy.
We bought some Wensleydale Blue, Wensleydale with Cranberry and some Sheep's Milk Cheese which is just wondefully creamy. We also bought some onion relish, homemade biscuits and some chocolate covered YORKSHIRE SHEEP POO, which is in fact chocolate covered raisins which the grandchildren will find it very amusing.