|Hawes, home to the Wensleydale Cheese Factory|
As we enjoyed all the samples on offer in the Wensleydale Cheese Factory, I initially found it intriguing that two of the three cheeses we brought home with us were Cheddars. Only one, a blend of Wensleydale and Apricot, represented the creamery's signature variety. The Wikipedia page on Wensleydale cheese describes its flavor as “wild honey balanced with a fresh acidity.” I don’t remember reacting to that acidity at the factory, but once I got home, and had a little of it with my breakfast, it somehow tasted off to me.
My wife liked the taste though, so I let her enjoy it while I got on with the Cheddars. I particularly enjoyed the smoked Cheddar—it had a nice, strong flavor that mixed well with the eggs, toast, and fruit I eat each morning. While my wife found she disliked the smoked Cheddar, she helped me out more with the softer, Abbot’s Choice variety. I tried the Wensleydale a second morning, but still couldn’t find the sweetness in it that my wife appreciated.
For a time, I wondered if we had simply waited too long to eat it. We brought back many treats from England, after all. As we had good things awaiting our return, including leftover Stilton, the new cheeses sat in our fridge awhile before we got around to them. By the time we unwrapped them and cut through the wax casing, all three were past their expiration dates. The two Cheddars supported this argument, as I often had to cut a little mold off them as I sliced off a little for my breakfast. But the Wensleydale & Apricot never developed a hint of mold.
Despite the fact that we were enjoying the latter stages of summer, one night my wife dug out Wallace & Grommit’s Cheesy Cook Book and announced that we were going to bake a cake. Using the last of our Wensleydale & Apricot cheese, we proceeded to make “Wallace’s Crumbly Apricot & Apple Cake.” While I peeled and sliced the apples, she did the rest. In short order, the cake was in the oven, which was happily pouring more heat to our already hot house.
I always find it difficult to describe a unique taste to someone else. Our new cake, which we sliced into the following night, was a combination of flavors and textures. Perhaps it was the baking process, or the addition of the sugar and the apples, but the cheese in it no longer tasted off. The cake had a substance that I often find lacking in cakes. It wasn’t too dense, nor was it too light and airy. It was moist, but not too moist. No one flavor dominated: it wasn’t too sweet, too cheesy, or two apple-y (if that’s a word). In short, the cake was different, a unique combination of flavors. Usually, I accompany cake with ice cream to balance out the tastes and textures. But when I set the fork on my empty plate, I decided I needed nothing more.
My wife, on the other hand, marched out to the store the following day and brought home some vanilla ice cream. That night, she presented me a slice of cake and some ice cream drizzled with a little Caramel sauce. Oh, yes: her instincts had steered her right once again!
I’m not sure if I can get any variety of Wensleydale Cheese in San Diego. That’s something we’ll have to investigate. I’d like more of Wallace’s “Crumbly Apricot & Apple Cake,” and I'd like to try some of the other recipes in the book. But even if I can’t find any more Wensleydale cheese until I return to England, I’m glad we brought those cheeses back, and I’m also glad she insisted we bake that cake. For it was wonderful to return to England, albeit through the medium of taste, and visit Yorkshire one more time.
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