Clotted Cream

Jason: 4.5 stars
Nicole: 3.5 stars
Elliott: Thumbs Up

Ingredients

  • Scones
  • Devon Clotted Cream
  • Strawberry Fruit Spread

The One Percent

This being our 10th blog post, we are officially 1% of the way through our journey through the book “1000 Foods to Eat Before You Die” by Mimi Sheraton.  This being our first small milestone on a long journey we decided to head to Grandma Miller’s house and join cousins Addison and Finn for afternoon tea with scones and clotted cream, a favorite of the wealthy one per-centers in England.

Devon Clotted Cream

Clotted Cream in Eugene

Clotted Cream Market of Choice EugeneI’ve seen a few recipes for homemade clotted cream online.  My mom even offered to make it for us, as it’s a time consuming project.  However, we wanted to be really authentic and get the clotted cream from Devon, England.  In America the most authentic clotted cream you can find is from the Devon Cream Company, which comes in jars. Obviously this isn’t the best clotted cream in the world, as it’s imported across the Atlantic.  If you want the real deal fresh stuff you have to get on a plane.  I was able to find the jars in Eugene at Market of Choice.  They carry both Clotted Cream and Devon Double Cream.  Apparently the difference between the two is that clotted cream is thicker and has a slightly more sour taste.

Strawberry Fruit Spread

To go along with our clotted cream I picked up an organic strawberry fruit spread made in by Sweet Creek Foods in Elmira, Oregon, about 30 minutes from our house.

How is Clotted Cream Made?

The Discovery Channel put together this nice short video on how clotted cream is made.  It’s worth a quick watch.

Baking at Grandma’s House

fresh baked scones and clotted cream
Addison stirring the scone mixture
My mom has always enjoyed hosting tea parties, and makes wonderful scones.  She volunteered to host us and help the kids bake the scones from scratch.  Oldest kids Elliott and Addison had a fun time with grandma mixing the scone ingredients together and watching grandma do the rolling, as Finn and Miles played on the floor.  Nicole and I usually like to get our hands dirty cooking; but this was a fun time for grandma and the kids to make memories.

Pepperberries Scone Recipe

My mom got her scone recipe from family friend Tammy Berry who owns the kitchen store Pepperberries in Eugene.
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg
Mix dry ingredients.  Cut in butter.  Beat egg.  Mix into cream. Blend into dry ingredients. Roll out cut in wedges.  Dust with sugar and cinnamon.  Bake at 425 for 12 minutes. One thing grandma Miller said is that normal British scones are round, but she likes to make them the American way, which is in triangles.

The Tea Controversy

Which goes first cream or jamSitting down for tea and scones we had to decide how to settle the clotted cream controversy.  In England there is a debate when preparing your scone with regard to the order you place your clotted cream and strawberry jam.  In Devon the clotted cream goes on first, in Cornwall the jam goes on first.  Since our jar of clotted creme is from Devon, we decided to do it the Devon way.  I’m sure we will get loads of hate mail from Cornwall.

Reviews

English clotted cream American scones

Jason

Yumm.  First off let me give props to my mom for making some truly wonderful scones.  They were warm, and fluffy and perfectly made.  The strawberry fruit spread from Sweet Creek Foods was also really good, not too sugary or syrupy with lots of chunks of strawberries. Okay, but the star of this show is the clotted cream.  I thought it was wonderful.  It’s a spread that sits somewhere between whipped cream and butter in consistency and flavor.  Very rich and creamy, however I imagine if you eat too much of this you will get clotted arteries.

Nicole

For me the scone was the star of the show.  Even though I knew I was meant to focus and thoughtfully consider the clotted cream, before I even knew what I was doing I was helping myself to a second scone with no adornments.  The clotted cream was a nice addition, I agree with Jason that it is not sweet like you would think a whipped cream, but not salty like butter (that is if you buy salted butter) or as firm.  The consistency was very thick which reminded me of a cream cheese frosting.  I noticed that even though we were treated to fresh out of the oven warm scones, it didn’t melt and spread into the baked goodness like a butter would.  I think I might actually stick to butter.

Grandma

Grandma said that while this clotted cream was good she still prefers to make her own, as it’s fresher.  My dad also showed up after we were done eating and really liked this sweet treat, especially the strawberry spread.

Will Kids Like it?

Finn & Miles ate it up
Fluffy scones, sweet strawberry jam and a whipped cream like spread.  Yes, kids will love this and ours certainly did.  Elliott said it was one of the best things we have tried yet.  He encouraged Addison by telling her it tasted like ice cream.  Miles was seen trying to swipe extra bites off of Finn’s plate. Kids making scones and clotted cream

Black Pudding Hash

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Jason: 3.5 stars
Nicole: 2 stars
Elliott: Thumbs Down

Ingredients

  • 500 g Black Pudding
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1tsp dried thyme
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp capers

Black Pudding Blood Sausage

Black pudding is a type of blood sausage, whose name sounds a lot worse than what you actually eat. It’s a mixture of oatmeal, pig fat, bacon fat and dried blood. I’m not sure where you would find black pudding in America.  Most of it comes in a tube.  I found a canned version on British Corner Shop, which got great reviews even though it was canned.  This video, from The Discovery Channel, is a great rundown of what black pudding is.

Black Pudding Hash Recipe

In the book “1000 Foods to Eat Before You Die” Mimi Sheraton suggests a recipe from the book “The Ploughman’s Lunch and the Miser’s Feast“.  We decided to go with this recipe from The Telegraph.

Cooking

Black pudding hash is very simple to make.  Nicole said that in the past when cooking hash browns or other potato recipes like this, you run into an issue with it taking a long time for the potatoes to cook.  The key is to boil your potato (just to fork tender) before you dice and bring them to the frying pan. The only tricky part is half way through the fry you want to flip the hash over, as you can see in the Facebook live video below. Black Pudding Hash 1000 Food Family

Reviews

Jason

I’m a fan of American hash, and hash browns. This is similar to that.  The black pudding is flavorful and oily, with a nice crisp from the fry of hash and potatoes. I don’t think I would have cared for it much on it’s own, however with a fried egg on top I found the entire dish very tasty. That being said I won’t be looking to make another black pudding hash anytime soon. There seems to be a plainness and banality to the British foods we’ve tried so far. They like their flavors simple.

Nicole

I was not a fan of the texture of the canned pudding.  It was kind of grainy and crumbly.  The fried egg was a nice addition, but what isn’t better with an egg on top?  I think the flavor was middle of the road, nothing too off putting with the “blood pudding” variety but nothing to write home about.  I would recommend the HP sauce or anything with a kick of vinegar or acid (hot sauce maybe?) to brighten it up a bit.  And again, I found myself needing to season the dish after plating.

Will Kids Like It?

Black Pudding Hash Kids
Miles liked his black pudding hash.
Elliott was turned off from knowing that this was called  blood sausage.  The color of the black pudding hash was not appetizing for him either.  He is also not much of a potato kid (french fries being the exception go figure).  As a result he was pretty determined not to give it much of a chance, before it was even in his mouth.  Tasting it did not change his mind. After he was surprised by the texture, our little British foodie Miles ate his without any complaints.

Shropshire Blue

1
Jason: 4 stars
Nicole: 1.5 stars
Elliott: Thumbs Down
  Shropshire is a British blue cheese with an orange hue.  It’s smooth and sharp at the same time.

Ingredients

  • Shropshire Blue Cheese
  • Tawny Port

Where to Buy Shropshire Blue Cheese

You can find a variety of Shropshire Blues on Amazon.  I shopped around Eugene and finally found a Shropshire cheese wheel at Kiva Grocery.
Shropshire Blue in Eugene, Oregon at Kiva
A slice of Shropshire off the cheese wheel at The Kiva in downtown Eugene.

Cheese Pairing

In the book “1000 Foods To Eat Before You Die” Mimi Sheraton suggests pairing a Shropshire with a Tawny Port.  We picked up a Quarles Harris 10 Year Old Tawny out of Portugal from Trader Joe’s, along with a British Stilton, which we will try in a future blog post.  When taking a cheese out for a tasting, I’ve read, that you should let it sit for an hour or so to warm and soften up. Quarles Harris Port and Shropshire Blue

Family Get Together

My sister Rachael was in town, from Seattle with her kids Addison and Finn.  We got the entire clan together for a dinner with my other sister Elizabeth’s family (you’ve seen the Harestad cousins in our British Biscuits blog) and my parents.  We met at the Harestad’s house. After dinner we brought out the Shropshire.  Cheese is not a desert we would all normally have, so it’s fun to see how eating through this book is getting all of us to try new things.

Reviews

Jason

I like blue cheese.  I’m known to choose a blue cheese dressing on a salad over ranch.  I also love dipping spicy buffalo wings in blue cheese dressing. I’ve never done a blue cheese “tasting” before and this was my first experience with Shropshire.  I really liked the orange color with the blue mold marbling.  I thought it had a really nice flavor.  I also thought that the port was a nice super sweet complement to the sharp moldy cheese flavor.  I will be interested to see how this compares to the Stilton Blue which we will be tasting soon.

Nicole

I think I’m the lone wolf on this one, or at least maybe I belong at the kiddie table.  I have never really liked blue cheese at all.  At first taste, I thought this was milder than expected, but after a moment or two it really punched me with flavor.  This might be a selling point for blue cheese lovers but not for this girl.  Sorry, I’ll meet you by the pepper jack next time.

Other Adults

All of the other adults enjoyed the Shropshire.  My dad said he would like to put this on a steak, like he enjoys with Roquefort.
The cousins enjoyed dinner at the little table before trying the Shropshire

Will Kids Like It

Probably not.  Elliott thought it tasted like play-dough, Jonah and Kendrick both spit it out, and Addison cried and said it was too “spicy.”  Both infants, Miles and Finn, thought it was fine.

Questions For You

  • What’s your favorite type of blue cheese?
  • What would be a good pairing with Shropshire?

Toad-in-the-Hole

Jason: 3 stars
Nicole: 3.5 stars
Elliott: Thumbs Up
  This British stand by wraps a crispy Yorkshire pudding around pork sausages, and an onion gravy poured on top.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 milk
  • thyme
  • pork bangers
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 cups chicken stock (but you should use beef)

Pork Bangers

We ordered a package of authentic British breakfast bangers, or pork sausages, when we ordered our bangers for the Bangers & Mash blog post.  They are from R.J Balson & Sons an English family who has been in business since 1515.

Recipe

In the book “1000 Foods to Eat Before You Die” Mimi Sheraton suggests Happy Days with the Naked Chef, Nigella Kitchen or this recipe on saveur.com The recipe we went with was from BBC Good Food.

Cooking

1000 Food Family making a toad-in-the-holeThis was very easy to make.  Elliott helped out by mixing the batter. The one trick is to time your onion gravy so that it is ready once your toad-in-the-hole is cooked.

Onion Gravy

We decided to do our onion gravy a little different this time, again from our Bangers & Mash post.  Differences were a white onion vs a yellow, no beer this time and we used chicken stock versus vegetable stock.  We only used the chicken stock because we didn’t have any beef stock.   While it was ok, I’d say go with beef stock. Toad in the Hole

Review

Jason

I believe that this was my first time having a dish made with a Yorkshire pudding.  We made this recipe with breakfast sausage, which paired with the pudding reminded me of a crispier, fancier pigs in a blanket.  I imagine if made with traditional sausage/bangers it would remind me of a meal Nicole has made me before with sausages wrapped in crescent rolls.  Overall this is a hearty meal, but not a ton of flavor. I think we missed the mark with the chicken stock, this dish needs a heartier gravy.

Nicole

I’m laughing at Jason’s referencing my “wiener wraps” that have saved the day when dinner needs to be on the table. So gourmet 😉 This dish is a major step up from that and I really enjoyed it.  I actually didn’t feel that the gravy added anything to it, and I loved how the batter baked up very crunchy around the edges.  This is a dish where you want the corner (next time I’m using a square or rectangle pan)!  Due to the baking time it doesn’t count as a “quick” dish for me necessarily but it came together very easily and none of the ingredients were hard to come by.  I would have this again for a weekend breakfast or brunch.

Good For Kids?

Yes, our kids liked it.  Elliott again didn’t want any onion gravy put on top and was happy to find that it does not, in fact, contain toads or frogs for that matter.

Questions For You

  • What do you think would be a good side dish for toad-in-the-hole?

Fish and Chips

Jason: 4.5 stars
Nicole: 3.5 stars
Elliott: Thumbs Up

Ingredients

  • Batter Fried Cod
  • French Fries
  • Tartar Sauce
  • Malt Vinegar
For the majority of our blog posts we will be cooking  the food ourselves, but on occasion we will hit up a restaurant.  We decided for fish and chips we would head to Newman’s Fish Market in Eugene.  Do you think we made a mistake?  Should we have tried and made this ourselves?  Leave a comment at the bottom of this blog and let us know.

The Perfect Temperature

When I lived in Melbourne, my boss, Savvas Aidenopolos, told me that growing up his family owned a chip shop.  He said the secret to making good fish and chips is the temperature of the oil.  If your oil is too cold, everything soaks up too much oil and gets soggy.  If your oil is too hot then everything is too crispy on the outside and raw in the inside.

Eugene’s Best Fish and Chips

Best Fish and Chips at Newmans in Eugene I’ve eaten a lot of fish and chips over the years, and I would say it’s one of my favorite foods. When doing a fish and chip I like a white fish like cod or the more expensive halibut.  I like the fish best as a street food, versus ordering it at a restaurant.  In Eugene, the best place to get fish and chips is Newman’s Fish Market, which has two locations.  For this write up we took the family to the main location on Willamette Street. Eugene's Best Fish and Chips To order at Newman’s you go to a side window on the outside of their building, and despite it being a cold rainy day there was a line of people ordering.  Being a fish market Newman’s always has fresh fish. They also serve everything wrapped in separate brown paper. Although they have outdoor seating it was just too cold and rainy, so we took our food inside the fish market, where they have giant bottles of malt vinegar to pour all over the fish. Newmans Cod Fish and Chips in Eugene

Hunt For Dover Sole

On a side note, we are looking for a way to get real Atlantic Dover Sole for a future blog post.  Apparently the Dover Sole that is sold on the West Coast is actually flounder, and does not taste the same.  I’ve called around to all the fish markets in Eugene, and nobody gets it.  When we were inside Newman’s I asked about it and they said no the Pacific version was good enough.  The search continues.

Review

Jason

I’ve always been a fan of fish and chips.  Good stuff.  Newman’s has really good fresh fish and deep fries everything to a perfect cook.  The one downside is that they cook everything in broken down smaller chunks.  I like larger pieces of cod.

Nicole

To be honest, I never order fish and chips.  I won’t ever turn my back on a french fry, but if I’m going for battered and fried, I typically choose shrimp.  I love seafood, and growing up in the Pacific Northwest I have been spoiled with fresh crab, clams and mussels, and of course Salmon.  Fish and Chips is something that is pretty easy to find and if it’s done right, it won’t disappoint even the pickiest eaters. Newman’s is a local favorite and it’s easy to see why.  I haven’t been eating much fried foods since the new year and the fries especially hit the spot.  The service is fast and friendly and the food came out hot and crispy.

Will Kids Like It?

Fish and Chips at Newman's in Eugene
Elliott is a fan!
Elliott liked it.  Of course he ate lots of french fries, but he also ate a big piece of fish.  (Cute story side note, when Elliott was about 18 months old he was a bit obsessed with french fries.  There was one night while tucking him into bed and saying bedtime prayers, he said, “French fry Amen.”) He wasn’t a fan of tartar sauce, and instead dipped everything in ketchup. Miles loved the fish and the chip, especially when he could hold a large french fry in his hand and wave it around before taking a big bite.

Questions for You

  • Where is the best fish and chips you have ever had?
  • Tartar, cocktail sauce or some other dipping sauce?
  • Have you ever made your own fish and chips at home?

The Gentleman’s Relish

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Jason: 1 star
Nicole: 1 star
Elliott: Thumbs Down

Ingredients

Something Fishy

 
Gentlemans Relish secret ingredients
What’s Gentleman’s Relish made of?
I’ve tried strange condiments before, like Curry Catsup out of Portland, Oregon, or Vegemite when I lived in Melbourne, Australia.  I was expecting The Gentleman’s Relish to be similar to the Aussie salty spread, but I was wrong, this was far, far worse. To find The Gentleman’s Relish I had to go online.  I placed an order with British Corner Store, along with some biscuits and black pudding. You can also find it on Amazon.

Small Container Big Odor

A little of this brown paste goes a long way.
The container is fairly small, but you really don’t need much as the flavor and odor is very strong. It says right on the package when you open it to use sparingly.  It’s a shame that The Gentleman’s Relish only lasts for four weeks after opening it, because this would be a lifetime supply of this stuff, for me. Right off the bat this stuff smells like cat food, but our cat Toby wanted nothing to do with it. Within minutes our entire dining area smelled of the stuff. The taste is very salty, fishy and oily.  Right up front the salt hits the front of your tongue, then the fish flavor kicks in, as the oils coat your mouth with the flavor.  If you don’t like strong fishy tasting stuff you will hate this.

Reviews

Jason

It’s a little unfair of me to review a condiment based only on eating it straight, and then lightly spread on buttered toast.  To truly give it a fair shake you would have to try it in various recipes, as this blog post on 19 Uses For Gentleman’s Relish suggests. I have not developed my palate for fishy tastes, so I don’t think I’d like any dish with this stuff until that happened.  I found it utterly putrid.

Nicole

I have to admit I was looking forward to upholding my “I’ll try anything” claim and maybe even proving Jason wrong and liking it.  Somewhere I had heard this compared to Vegemite, which I enjoyed, after being introduced by way of Jason’s aunt Deb and uncle Charles from Australia.  I cannot say this had much in common with Vegemite at all.  It was extraordinarily fishy and even on the bread had a somewhat grainy texture.  It was certainly better on the toast and with the thinnest application you could possibly dole out it was almost palatable…almost.  I don’t foresee that we will be going back to Gentleman’s Relish.

Will Kids Like It?

I would venture to guess that most American kids won’t like this stuff.  It all depends on if the child likes salty fishy flavors.  Elliott said this was the worst 1000 Food Family he has done yet, and ran to get a drink of water after each taste.  I was proud of him for giving it a shot though. Little Miles didn’t mind it and only winced a little, probably due more to the saltiness of the relish than anything else.
Miles is the only one who liked The Gentleman’s Relish

Welsh Rarebit

Jason: 4 stars
Nicole: 4 stars
Elliott: Thumbs Up

Ingredients

  • 1/4 lb of cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tbs dry mustard
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup milk, beer or Pinot Noir depending on which version you wish to make
  • Worcestershire (some versions)
  • Crusty bread

Old World Grilled Cheese

The Welsh Rarebit is a dish from the 1700s, and is considered by some to be the precursor to the grilled cheese sandwich.  Instead of melting cheese between two slices of bread you make a fondu like cheese sauce, pour it open face on a single piece of toast, then broil it. Welsh Rarebit 1000 Food Family

Different Versions of the Rarebit

In the book “1000 Foods to Eat Before You Die” Mimi Shearaton suggests looking up the article “How to Cook Perfect Welsh Rarebit” in The Guardian.  From the article and a search of various recipes online it’s apparent that there isn’t any single way to make this dish, with ingredients varying by regions.  The Irish like adding Guinness, the English ale and Worcestershire, and others suggest adding milk.  We had Welsh, Irish, English and Oregon cheddars from our recent cheddar tasting, so we decided to get crazy and make four different versions, including creating our own Oregon Rarebit.

Basic Instructions

Making the Welsh Rarebit is very simple.  In a saucepan on low heat, whisk butter, flour, egg yolk and the liquid you choose until fully melted and mixed.  Slowly add your cheese, and continue to whisk (about 5 minutes) until it becomes a paste like consistency. Toast bread on one side.  This was accomplished by putting the slices on a large cookie sheet and putting them under the broiler.  We used a nice thick crusty rye bread.  On the non-toasted side pour the cheese sauce, and broil the cheese bread until it bubbles and browns.  Take it out and serve.  Your bread is both soft and crunchy, with gooey cheese on top.  What’s not to love?

Welsh Rarebit

We used Collier’s Powerful Welsh Cheddar and mixed in milk to make the Welsh version.  Nicole had thought the Collier’s a bit too “powerful” but found when made into the Rarebit that it mellowed a bit and had a really nice flavor.
English Rarebit with Worcestershire

English Rarebit

We used Ford Family Farmhouse Cheddar from England and mixed in milk and two tablespoons of Worcestershire.  Once plated we also added more Worcestershire on top of the cheese.  The Farmhouse Cheddar isn’t as sharp as the Welsh, and the Worcestershire gave it a nice tangy salty flavor.  It reminded me of the cheese sauce that my mom used to put on our broccoli when I was growing up.

Irish Rarebit

We used a Kerrygold Irish cheddar and mixed in Guinness instead of milk. The Guinness gives the cheese a dark brown color, and a nice stout aftertaste.

Oregon Rarebit

We had a Face Rock Creamery cheddar out of Bandon, Oregon, so we wanted to create a recipe that is uniquely Oregon.  We decided to use a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir instead of the milk/beer.  It gave the cheese a wonderful purple color, and the mix of sharp cheddar, pinot and rye bread was a heavenly combination.
Oregon Rarebit made with Pinot Noir
Oregon Rarebit (left) made with Pinot Noir, and Irish Rarebit made with Guinness.

Reviews

Jason

Yes, I loved this dish.  It’s melted cheese on half toasted bread, which gives you so many different textures and flavors.  I’m really happy that we had a nice thick rye, although the rye bread definitely flavors the dish.  If you want the cheese to stand on it’s own you might try something more plain.  My favorite was the Welsh version we made, mostly because I love the Collier’s cheddar so much.  I also really enjoyed the Oregon version, because of the pinot noir flavor.

Nicole

Hello cheese coma, in the best way.  This was such a fun and easy dish to make but for me had a feeling of being special.  I devoured everything put in front of me during this tasting, even the cheeses that I wasn’t super fond of during the cheese sampling.  I found that the sooner you can tuck into the rarebit the better, when it sat on the plate the wonderful toasted crunch fades due to being warm on the plate.  My favorite was probably the first one we made, the Welsh…though I was really hungry during prep so that may have had something to do with it.  The Irish version’s cheese sauce was thinner due to the Guinness, and while at first we thought it might be too thin, but I actually really enjoyed that the consistency allowed the bread to be completely enveloped.

Will Kids Like It?

Yes, if your kids like grilled cheese then they should like this, although if they don’t like sharp cheddar they might prefer a mild cheddar version.  Elliott liked the English version the best, as that cheese is a little more smooth, but he didn’t care for Worcestershire.  He said he liked the crunchy parts. Miles continues to consume anything we give him, and demanded more of the cheesy warm bread.

Questions For You

  • What do you think is the best version of the Welsh Rarebit?
  • What do you think would be the best side dish to go with all this cheese and bread?
Leave your answers in the comments below.

Cheddar

Jason: 3.5 stars
Nicole: 3 stars
Elliott: Thumbs Up

Ingredients

Shopping For Cheddars

For this food we thought it would be fun to do a taste test between a few cheddars from different countries.  I drove around town to see what I could find. There are a few stores around Eugene that sell cheese cut from imported cheese wheels and, in “1000 Foods To Eat Before You Die” Mimi Sheraton says that cheese cut to order is the best way to do it.  Unfortunately for us none of the stores had cheddar wheels.
Cheddar section at Market of Choice in South Eugene
I did find that Market of Choice in South Eugene had a very large cheddar section and I picked up the Welsh, Irish and Oregon cheeses there.  The woman working in the cheese department was very helpful.  I told her a few of the brands that Mimi mentions in the book, and she said that she had tried  the Isle of Mull cheddar when she was in training for her section, and didn’t realize how special it was.  If you ever see it, pick it up as it’s supposed to be one of the best in the world. I still wanted to find a British cheddar though, and happily found the Ford Farm cheddar at Capella Market. UPDATE: Soon after writing this post I stopped by Trader Joe’s and found that they had a really great selection of cheddar from around the world, including the Welsh Collier’s.  They even had a raw milk cheddar.

Cheese Board

Nicole put together a wonderful cheese board for the family tasting.  We had left over McVitie’s Digestive biscuits, walnuts and apple slices.  We also had a cheese knife which my mom bought for us from our local kitchen store Pepperberries.

Cheddar Cheese Taste Test

Kerrygold Cheddar From Ireland

Our first taste was a bit disappointing.  Not because it was bad, but because it tasted like, well, cheddar cheese.  I don’t know why I was expecting something exotic, but I was.  This Kerrygold is good and has a nice sharp cheddar bite that ended up being much more mellow then the others.
Miles couldn’t wait to chew on cheddar.

Collier’s Welsh Cheddar

Now this is what I was looking forward to.  The Collier’s had a bit of a smokey, salty taste to it.  It’s texture wasn’t as smooth as the Kerrygold, as it was a bit crumbly, which is what you are supposed to get from more authentic cheddars.  This ended up being Jason’s and Elliott’s favorite, but Nicole didn’t like it as much.

Ford Farm Farmhouse Cheddar from Britain

This one came encased in wax, Elliott found fun cutting into it.  This cheese was the only one that we tried that wasn’t aged for two years, only 12 months.  I’m not sure what difference that had on it, but this one was the creamiest of all, and not as sharp.

Face Rock Creamery Cheddar from Bandon, Oregon

I was rooting for the local cheese from the Oregon Coast.  Nicole, Elliott and I have all been to Face Rock Creamery in Bandon, a few years ago, where we sampled curds and got some ice cream.  It has a very strong, sharp taste, and it had the boldest flavor.

Reviews

Jason

I like cheddar cheese, although usually when eating it on a sandwich, or what have you, I prefer to get the mild cheddar.  However, when tasting on it’s own I prefer the unique sharp flavors.  As I write this a few hours after our tasting, I find my mouth is craving that salty cheese flavor of the Collier’s.  I’m looking forward to using our cheddar leftovers soon to make a Welsh Rarebit. A cheddar cheese tasting is fun to do, especially as an appetizer if you have friends over for dinner. My ranking for this tasting was: 1) Collier’s 2) Ford Farm 3) Face Rock 4) Kerrygold.

Nicole

Now I love cheese and crackers, but I’ll gravitate to a pepper jack or spicy havarti over extra sharp.  For eating on their own, I would probably not purchase these extra aged cheddars again but I would return to the milder Farmhouse Cheddar.  I did find, not surprisingly, that the strong taste of the Welsh and Face Rock especially, was nicely paired with the biscuits and walnuts.  We are lucky to have access to such variety, and in my opinion any of these suggestions would be a great addition to a cheeseboard. If I was to rank the cheese in order from most favorite to least, I would say 1) Ford Farm, 2) Kerrygold, 3) Face Rock 4) Collier’s.

Good For Kids?

Yes, our kids like cheddar cheese.  Elliott actually enjoyed trying the various types, and describing the sharpness.  I think he grasped onto the Collier’s because the package said “powerful cheddar” and he liked the idea of a powerful cheese.  He also liked the apple slices. After the taste test Nicole used some of the Ford Farm cheese to make him a grilled cheese sandwich. Miles of course was happy to chew on bits of cheese and digestive biscuits.  In thinking about it, there hasn’t been anything Miles has refused.  He seems to be getting accustomed to and excited about our family tastings.

Questions For You

  • Who makes the best cheddar you’ve ever had?
  • What is your favorite food to use cheddar cheese?
Let us know your answers in the comment section below.

English Biscuits

Jason: 3 stars
Nicole: 2.5 stars
Elliott: Thumbs Up

Ingredients

Not to be confused with the fluffy bread roll we Americans like to pour gravy on, the English biscuit is part cookie and part cracker.

Where to Buy Biscuits

British Biscuits on Bottom Row
British spies on the bottom row.
It’s pretty easy to find biscuits in America.  You can either order them online from Amazon.com, or from an English specialty site.  We were able to find our at a variety of stores in the Eugene-Springfield area.  We have a Cost Plus World Market in town where Nicole found the Hobnobs and Jammie Dodgers.  Jason then looked at our neighborhood Albertson’s in the “fancy” cookie aisle, the one that is filled with the white Pepperidge Farms bags.  Down at the very bottom shelf was a variety of Cadbury “cookies”.  A quick Google search found that these “cookies” were actually biscuits with the labels changed to trick Americans into buying them, or something like that. As I exited the Alberton’s I passed a troupe of Girl Scout’s selling Thin Mints, Samoas and Tagalongs.  Sorry ladies, the British invasion is in full effect.

More the Merrier

We invited Elliott’s cousins Jonah & Kendrick to help us eat up these tasty treats.  We put on a pot of tea, poured some milk and got to work.  It’s a hard life but somebody’s got to do it. British Biscuits

English Biscuit Brands

McVitie's Digestves British BiscuitMcVitie’s Digestives

A lot of these were broken as we took them out of the package, so it was a good thing we weren’t putting on an Afternoon Tea.  They tasted a lot like a graham cracker, and were Kendrick’s favorite.

McVitie's Hobnob BiscuitMcVitie’s Hobnobs

I was expecting these to be a chocolate covered version of the Digestives, but they actually had a different texture and flavor completely.  They had a very oatmeal cookie type flavor.  Imagine a cracker version of a no-bake haystack cookie.

Cadbury Crunchie BiscuitCadbury Crunchie

Nicole mentioned that these tasted a little like Violet Crumble, with a chocolate covered honeycomb toffee flavor. These were both Nicole and Jason’s favorite.  

Cadbury Dairy Milk BiscuitCadbury Dairy Milk

These were very dense and I think almost had a malty whopper flavor to them. These were my brother Matt’s favorite.  

Jammie Dodgers BiscuitJammie Dodger

These look the most like a cookie. The raspberry jammie bit is nice, but the biscuit itself has a mushy texture, and a flour flavor.  They look like they are made of shortbread, and I would have loved them a lot more if they had more of a shortbread crunch to them.  My sister Elizabeth thought these were the best.
Miles wants to share his Hobnob with Kendrik.

Review

Jason

I found the British biscuit to be tasty, but probably not something I would purchase if I wanted a crunchy or sugary treat.  I thought that the digestive went nicely with tea, and I could see it being a part of a cheese and fruit plate.  To me the cookie type biscuits are just a little bit too wheaty for my American palate. I took some of the left over biscuits to my work the next day, and some joked that the Hobnob tasted like Ikea furniture dipped in chocolate.

Nicole

My favorite by far was the Cadbury Crunchie, it is very reminiscent of a honeycomb or seafoam candy (an aside, if you have a chance try the candy bar Violet Crumble if you can find one).  I wasn’t floored by the British biscuit, but I could see how they would be nostalgic for some.  For me they were quite similar to any packaged cookie you can find and to be honest, I’m a bit spoiled by homemade baked goods.  I opted out of trying the Jammie Dodger because I don’t really prefer jelly filled things in general.  If we come across a dark chocolate British biscuit I’m game to try, for me that would bring up the flavor profile but might turn off the kids.

Good For Kids?

Yes, of course kids love chocolate, crunchy, cookie, cracker things!  Elliott and Jonah both liked all of them, but agreed that biscuits are best when covered in chocolate.  Kendrick appears to be a bit of a biscuit snob, and wasn’t afraid to give a thumbs down to the Jammie Dodgers, Cadbury Dairy Milk and McVitie’s Hobnobs. Miles was a big fan of all the biscuits and became very unhappy every time we tried to take unfinished food away from him.  And don’t worry, mom assures readers that Miles doesn’t eat platefuls of cookies every day and keeps a good, nutritious diet.
Miles was sad whenever we took his biscuits

Questions For You

  • What’s your favorite brand of British biscuit?
  • Best drink with biscuits tea or milk?

Bangers & Mash

Jason: 3.5 stars
Nicole: 3.5 stars
Elliott: Thumbs Up

Ingredients

  • 1 Package RJ Balson & Son Pork Bangers
  • Fresh sage (few leaves)
  • Flat leaf parsley (small handful)
  • 1 cup beer (Old Speckled Hen)
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 3 russet potatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Plain flour (pinch)
We are starting our food adventure with a bang!  Bangers and Mash is a classic English comfort food, and what we thought would also be a good starting food for Elliott. Bangers and Mash Ingredients

Pork Bangers

Cooler of meat from RJ Balson & Sons.
I researched various pork sausages, but really wanted to get as authentic as possible.  In 1000 Foods To Eat Before You Die Mimi suggests R.J. Balson & Son who claim to be Europe’s Oldest Family Butchers since 1515.  The meat doesn’t come from England, I think they have a farm in Wisconsin, as that is where the cooler was shipped from.  Costco carries Balson’s bangers in the southwest, but not here in Oregon.  The biggest problem is that you need to order at least 6lbs of meat, and I certainly didn’t want that many. Balsons does have a few other items on their site, including a Garlic & Herb version of the banger, pork back bacon and breakfast bangers.  I noticed that another food in the book is Toad-in-the-Hole, which can use the breakfast bangers for.  Still 6lbs is too much for our family. I put out a call on Facebook and found three other friends who were interested in getting some British bangers of their own.  Perfect.
Meat kept frozen with dry ice.

Beer

When our recipe called for beer I wondered down to Eugene’s best bottle shop, The Bier Stein, as they have a huge selection from all over the world.  We found the British Isles section and grabbed a can of Old Speckled Hen.

Recipes

Mimi suggests How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.  As I researched various websites I found a lot of fancy versions.  Come on, this is comfort food!  I finally found this great YouTube video.  I knew by Steven Dolby’s British accent that this was our recipe.

Cooking

Elliott “The Masher” Miller
This dish was simple to make, and Elliott was able to help stir the onions and give a shot at mashing the potatoes.  The only problem we ran into was we didn’t start heating the potato water soon enough, so that the bangers and onion gravy was done cooking before the potatoes were done boiling.  That resulted in the bangers being a little cold when finally serving them. We decided to pair our meal with peas.  There is a debate over what the best side dishes for bangers and mash are, with some saying you don’t need any side dish at all.

Review

Jason

I thought it was good comfort food material, however none of the flavors really stood out.  I think that using the Old Speckled Hen beer was fun, and it gave our home a British pub smell while cooking, I think it also left the onion gravy with a slightly bitter taste, as British beers tend to be a little bitter.  It was definitely a good idea to source the authentic British bangers, as they have a unique taste to them that you won’t get with American sausages.

Nicole

This recipe was a success and I was impressed with the results.  Jason is right, the aroma had my stomach growling.  I was surprised that the recipe doesn’t mention seasoning the gravy (only salt is mentioned with cooking and mashing the potatoes).  I thought it was lacking a bit of flavor there and preferred to add salt and pepper to taste.  The banger was tasty, a kind of softer texture than American sausages and didn’t have a snap when bit into or cut.  I don’t know enough to say if that’s what makes it authentic, but it was distinctly different.  Overall this meal was excellent to serve on a blustery February day and a fun one to try out with the family.  I encourage you to give Bangers and Mash a whirl.

Good For Kids?

Elliott loved the bangers, but is not a fan of onions or mashed potatoes.
Elliott really liked the bangers and ate the entire thing.  He was off put by the mashed potatoes, but he has never really been a fan.  Most kids who like mashed potatoes will like these as well, although they might be turned off by the onions. Miles on the other hand loved every bite.  He is still too young for the meat, but he gobbled down the mashed potatoes, onion gravy and peas.  He loved discovering this new flavor and kept reaching out across the table for more.  

Questions For You

  • There are many ways to make this dish.  What is the best Bangers & Mash recipe?
  • Where is the best restaurant to order Bangers & Mash?
  • What do you think is the ultimate side dish for Bangers & Mash?
Leave your comments in the area below!