Fancy a bit of Smorging? Well it’s probably one of the most fun things cheese lovers will ever do fully clothed and if you love food and friends then you’ll embrace Smorging. It’s the word Castello, the Danish cheese brand, have conjured up to explain how you can enjoy their the art of cheese with a group of friends.
For the curious who want to try their cheeses that aren’t available yet in the UK but are favourites of Michelin starred restaurants such as Noma, head over to their pop up in Shoreditch.
It’s here you can sample Castello Höhlenkäse (matured in limestone caves, 35 metres underground), Classic and Unika (Noma’s number one choice of cheese) and with it all the things needed to pair up the product and enjoy it at its best.
A short residency on Commercial Street opens their range of more than thirty different varieties to sample and buy as well as impressive cheese knives, cloches and everything that will make a cheese party go with a bang.
Stefan Gates (you know the presenter who likes cooking in some of the most dangerous places in the world) is a Castello Ambassador and when I visit, gave the assembled group a quick talk about the history of cheese.
The food and wine tasting expert Matt Day has paired the cheese with a variety of crackers and breads, Tiptree chutneys and jams, along with extra toppings.
With that, there are beers, ciders and wines he also suggests to try with the cheese which busts the myth that red wine is the only wine to drink with cheese. It’s incredible how when the cheese is paired with the right drink, it takes the taste to a totally different level and Matt’s keen to point out that it’s all about balancing flavours.
Castello has done all the hard work for you, you just need to buy what they suggest, if you like what you sample.
Here are the pairings on offer.
My favourite was the Castello Creamy White with Truffles. Matt suggests a generous slither of the cheese is added to a thin almond cracker, given a drizzle of Tiptree Scottish Heather Honey and topped off with a raw mushroom slice. A hit of Veuve Cliquot Demi Sec and you are in taste heaven.
The others include the Castello Marquis, which is a milky and buttery cheese with hints of tropical fruit and green peppers. Matt suggests a slither cops a Kent & Fraser Lemon Butter Shortbread and topped with Tiptree Lemon Curd. A wheat beer such as Hoegaarden is a great pairing with the slightly sweet yet sour notes of the cheese and curd.
Castello Aged Havarti was added to a melba toast. Tiptree Acacia Honey drizzled over the cheese and a slice of Parma Ham crowns it. Serve with an Italian Nebbiolo, Barbaresco Corsini is the wine being sold at the Pop Up.
There are two pairing options for the popular Extra Mature Tickler Cheddar. Tickler is placed on a slice of crusty white bread, dolloped with Tiptree Blackcurrant Jelly, a slither of rare cold beef and washed down with a Spanish Tempranillo, Cune Reserva Rioja. The second option is Brown Bread with Tiptree Onion Relish, finished with a pickled onion. IPA, Green King IPA is the beer of choice for this one.
The Castello Creamy White is a versatile cheese and Matt has paired two options for this too. Carrs Water Biscuits act as the light base for this creamy white, thin rind, mould cheese and when the Tiptree Crab Apple Jelly is added along with a halved white grape the mouth is set alight with flavour.
To that, add a glass of really dry German Riesling, Dr L Riesling is sold at the pop up and you have a great flavour experience. The second uses the much maligned cream cracker, topped with the cheese and a generous dollop of Tiptree Hot Gooseberry Chutney and a sliver of fresh pear it’s time for another party in your mouth. A light cider such as Sheppy’s Falstaff helps to wash it all down.
The Castello Pineapple Halo (of which I wasn’t a massive fan until it had been added to a cracker and given some jam) is one of the soft cheeses coated in chunks of pineapple, papaya and almonds. Spread on an all-butter shortbread biscuit and given a dollop of Tiptree Timperley Early Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam and a fresh strawberry and you have a perfect dessert. The Italian Moscata, Luigi Einauid Moscato D’Asti was a perfect glass of Piedmont delicious, juicy and refreshing.
For the Danish Blue, Matt added a blue cheese biscuit into the mix and added Tiptree Quince Jelly, crowned with an apple crisp which was washed down with the Dessert wine, Castelnau de Suduiraut which was bursting full of apricot and peaches and worked just perfectly with the cracker flavour mix.
There’s even a sliced ‘burger cheese’ delicious with Quince Jelly.
The prices are easy-on-the-pocket, cheaper than the supermarket for those wishing to buy cheese. The staff have been fully trained to immerse the guest into what they hope will be a 360° cheese experience like no other. As a rough guide the champagne pairing will set you back £9.75; the Moscato £5.75; the Riesling £5.00; a fruit beer with Creamy Blue and dark chocolate £4.70.
For seven weeks the venue will act as a home for cheese-based events which will include live Q&A sessions with Stefan, and a wine-matching session with Matt Day.
Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday they open their cheese bar which allows the taster to experience the perfect pairing.
Work nearby? Why not grab a taster lunch for a fiver?
Build your own hamper with some of the glorious products on sale and get it send to someone you love, or yourself, in the UK.
I loved the experience and if you like cheese and wine, then I think you will too.
Everything you need to know about Castello and more is on their excellent website, which includes information on the sessions and how to book.
Castello Pop Up, 132 Commercial Street, London E1 6NQ