Many will know that I don’t eat cheese, loathe the smell of it and it gives me migraines. So it was a sign of true love to order a whole Stilton for Christmas.
I confess I was somewhat laissez-faire in the ordering – I was anticipating a nice neat plastic-wrapped two pound drum. I should have paid more attention to my trusty butcher who was procuring this secret Christmas gift: he rang to check that I really understood what was coming and, rather loftily off-hand, I said I did.
An enormous box disguised in a black bin liner arrived and I could only just lift it. The monster weighed in at just under 8kg and will be enough to satisfy my cheese-eater for months … years …
The whole concept had been to “port” the Stilton: cutting off the top to make a neat lid, scoop out some of the interior and skewer the rest so that the alcohol could permeate through.
But how were we going to cut it? Even the biggest kitchen knife wasn’t going to make enough impression. Thankfully, neighbour Roger donated a reel of wire which, once sterilised, was wound around two wooden spoons to make an improvised cheese wire.
Off came the top and the centre yielded a substantial cylinder for segmenting and vacuum packing for future months. A groove or rill was spooned out around the circumference of the base and holes skewered down to just avoid breaching the bottom. Then the first port infusion was applied – with more over following days – before the lid was replaced.
Throughout all of this I had to actually touch the cheese, smell it and feel it under my finger nails – shudderingly awful!
Now I have to endure the consequences of that rash gift for months to come. At least Roger took a piece in return for his wire: one less and much more to go.