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Tuesday 29 April 2014

Westcombe Truffle Cheddar at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen

Thursday 25th April - How big is a truckle? Anyone? This is the question I was asking people most of last week after being invited along to a one-off dinner at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen to celebrate the creation of Westcombe White Truffle Cheddar, apparently the world's most expensive cheese at £2,000 a truckle! Here's what Wikipedia had for me:

"A "truckle" of cheese refers to a cylindrical wheel of cheese, usually taller than it is wide, and sometimes described as barrel-shaped. The word is derived from the Latin trochlea, 'wheel, pulley'. Truckles vary greatly in size, from the wax-coated cheeses sold in supermarkets, to 25 kilogram or larger artisanal cheeses."

Truckles vary greatly in size?! Well that's no use. Anyway, let's just say it was more expensive than the 2 for £3 Red Leicester from my Sainsburys Local.

18 months ago, Jamie teamed up with his mate Tom Calver of Westcombe Dairy to create this ridiculous cheese.  He had 1kg of white truffles lying around as you do (only £3,000 or £4,000 per kilo) and handed it over to Tom to combine with his oustanding cheddar, and the results were pretty spectacular (see video below). The truffles seemed to break down the cheese in a different way, with enzymes coming out of the truffles & splitting the proteins.

Westcombe White Truffle Cheddar
Jamie then passed the cheddar on to Jon Rotheram, Head Chef at Fifteen, to devise a menu based around it.  Jon really just wanted to have a load of truffle cheese on toast with some beers, but he stretched to an indulgent 7 course tasting menu in the end.  

All profits from the night went towards the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation which, amongst other things, supports the Fifteen Apprentice Programme that has been training up unemployed people in the restaurant industry since 2002.

Corrections: Substitute Spaghetti for Gnudi & wild garlic, and Mandarin for Blood Orange

Upstairs at Fifteen
After a welcome cocktail or two in the bar (a refreshing Daiquiri on the rocks & a boozy Gas Town w/ Mezcal, Punt e Mes, Fernet Branca, maple syrup, bitters), we made our way downstairs where Jamie introduced the room to everyone involved.

Downstairs at Fifteen

Jamie Oliver introducing the night

Jamie introducing Tom Calver

Jon Rotheram, Head Chef at Fifteen
Before we get to the cheese, we started with plates of cured meats from Cobble Lane Cured, an Islington based trio who used to work with Jamie.  They are dedicated to making high quality British cured meats in the heart of London, taking inspiration from all over and putting their own twist on proceedings.  Impressively, these three lads are solely responsible for all of the meat that is consumed at Manchester City's Etihad Stadium at every home game!

Their fantastic selection was washed down with some Nyetimber Classic Cuvée, keeping everything British for kickoff.

The Cobble Lane Cured boys - Matt, Mat & Adam

Cobble Lane cured meats 
I'll let the pictures mostly tell the tale for the rest of the superb menu which showed off the Westcombe truffle cheddar in a variety of ways - smoked, sweet & sour, grilled etc!  The two standout courses for me were the Slow cooked Roscoff onion, almonds, nettles & smoked cheddar (with a delicious Maison Deux-Montille Pouilly-Fuissé 'En Vergisson' 2008 Burgundy) and Jon's cheese on toast (Grilled Veal, Welsh truffle rarebit toast).  The Castello di Cigognola Barbera '12'12' 2011 red paired with the Gnudi was also pretty special.

Wye Valley asparagus & mushroom mayonnaise, Westcombe truffled cheddar

Slow cooked Roscoff onion, almonds, nettles & smoked Westcombe Truffle Cheddar

Gnudi, wild garlic, sweet & sour Westcombe Truffle Cheddar

Grilled veal, Welsh truffle rarebit toast

Where's the cheese? Blood orange sorbet w/ Mint Granita
The meal obviously had to finish with a cheese course, and Isle of Bulk Honeycomb was a wonderful match for the generous mounds of truffle cheddar.

Westcombe Truffle Cheddar, oatmeal biscuit & Isle of Bulk Honeycomb

Truffle treats
After Natalie and I had cleared up the plates of those around around us, we made our way back to the bar for a few drinks with Jamie & co.  

There are local bottled beers from the likes of Pressure Drop & Redchurch and plenty of top spirits to play with including St George's, Smooth Ambler and Few (all imported by Maverick Drinks), as well as Sipsmith, No.3 Gin, Monkey 47, and Death's Door.  A St George's Tom Collins recommended by our bartender really hit the spot.

From the cocktail menu we chose two from the "Strong & Serious" section - they weren't kidding. La Dolce Vita was not for the faint-hearted with Rittenhouse Rye, Pedro Ximenez & Campari undergoing a rigorous smoking procedure.  Also impressive was the Old Fat Fashioned - Fat Washed Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon with golden syrup & chocolate bitters.

The bar is a great hangout in its own right, with knowledgeable bartenders, interesting drinks, and predictably good bar food (e.g. Beef and barley buns / English smoked-ricotta and baby chard pizza with black olive dressing).

La Dolce Vita

Old Fat Fashioned
Hopefully this won't be the only ever outing for Westcombe Truffle Cheddar.  After all, who knows how large that truckle was?

Square Meal

Jamie Oliver's Fifteen on Urbanspoon


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