The Diary of an Urban Cheesemaker Parts 1-6 of a four part series

The Diary of an Urban Cheese Maker – Part 6

 

I have a lot in common with Miss Marilyn Monroe (apart from the obvious sexual allure and tough vulnerability) when in, some like it hot, she asks how they get that big sardine into such a little can? I had that moment when I was asked if I was planning an Instagram social media site. Now I am as down with the kids as anyone but cut an old man some slack.

I am also currently obsessing about beards (that is one difference between me and Ms Monroe) having lost the beard of spring 2014 competition to some follicle upstart I have really started to notice the sudden outburst of facial hair on men. But I would like to bring your attention to my prediction back at a previous blogspot where having rubbed my crystal ball I predicted hair. I fully expect to win beard of Autumn 2014.

On the subject of hair …….. if you don’t shave, pluck or wax downstairs it is called vintage – who knew?

So what is the real news from the little – dairy on the prairie?

I was featured in the cook section of the Saturday Guardian. It was a nice little piece and a real honour to be in such a quality paper. If you are quick you can download the picture and put it up on your wall alongside Justin Beiber. But the weird thing is that I got an email from an old friend that I lost contact with about a 1000 years ago. I worked with her when I first arrived in London as a beautiful fresh faced boy from the country in need of protecting from the evils of the big bad city. I remember I was homeless for a short time and she took me in and gave me shelter at her small flat just round the corner from where I now live. It’s not often you can go back and thank someone for such acts of kindness; an act of kindness that probably stopped my life slipping downhill. When her email arrived I was immediately transported back 30 years to the 80s a time of industrial strife, big hair, white trainers and fur coats. I can hear Relax by Frankie goes to Hollywood and Vienna by Ultravox going around in my head.

We are proud to have been offered a pitch at Borough, London’s best known food market. We are currently pitching up on a Wednesday and Thursday building to the full four days by the beginning of July. I am desperately looking for the 8th day in a week to make cheese I guess I might give up sleeping altogether. We will continue to work at Partridges on the Kings rd on Saturday and Alexandra Palace on Sunday.

This bank holiday (5 May) sees the 4th Tottenham Ploughmans event which is an event that invites local residents and some Tottenham Businesses together with local artists and musicians to a fun day out. The May event is at Markfield Park – hope to see you there.

I recently attended a telling stories event by my friend Fiona at our local pub the Beehive. It is an event where participants tell true stories around that week’s theme – the theme was living in Tottenham. As you know I still have some large shards of ice in my heart but even I felt a warm fuzzy glow (of course that could have been the beer).

I am so lucky to be working with some lovely people on some new projects that I hope will continue to improve the image and economic viability of Tottenham – You know who you are and I thank you.

The Diary of an Urban Cheesemaker Part 5 of a 4 part series

The Diary of an Urban Cheesemaker

Part 5 of a 4 part series

The more observant of you will notice that I have titled this blog as part 5 of a 4 part series which is clearly not possible in this wibbly-wobbly time vortex. I had intended to only publish 4 blogs but due to public demand ….. well the queen Mother demanded ………I have written another episode. So in current Hollywood fashion this is a sequel. Bang on trend.

I guess you want to know what has happened since part 4.

I have been chatting to a number of London based WI groups. I bloody love the WI groups they are surprisingly welcoming and funky. And they pay in cake. Cake: I’d strip to my pants and gyrate for free cake. I have also noticed that ladies of a certain age have a way of looking a man up and down that is slightly disconcerting…makes me blush.

Oooo. Did you see the piece in the Telegraph late last year? The photography took most of the day and the photographer said as she was leaving ‘and don’t worry about images of you we can do a lot with photoshop’. Ouch that hurt! My tears fall like rain!

I have also been in discussions with a well-known foodhall in central London and went to visit them the other day. I am not sure where my head has been recently but I was a bit disappointed not to be met by a handsome American gentleman with a fabulous full beard. I met a nice young man and thankfully wasn’t distracted by blushing.

I have also been filmed recently for a TV series on Artisan food producers. Filming is really exciting!!!!  A lot of time is spent repeating actions to be filmed from a different angle. I have a new found respect for porn actors: “stop! I don’t like the light and I need to film from a different angle, now start again from the beginning”. I will let you know when I am on screen so get in the beer, popcorn and wet wipes.

Christmas. Never again.

The most over used word in the English language is ‘or’ so I say a big  up  to ’and’. And I will have the same in brown and red  and black. Let’s all cheer for ‘and’. And I will have a starter and a main course and a dessert. I will have that bag and those shoes. How much better does that feel than or I will have starter or Dessert, I will have those shoes or that bag. Hip hip hooray for and.

I didn’t get to the gym again in January that’s the 5th year in a row I haven’t been. I really should stop paying membership fees.

The definition of networking ‘being nice to people until you are sure they can’t help you ’ just saying!

Me and the boss had a holiday in Mexico recently and I want to give a shout out to Ollie and Hope, John and Steph, John and Gail, Guy and Susie (who was from Nashville and spoke like Gone with the Wind – I had a few Scarlet O’Hara moments of my own). Thank you all for your patience and non-eye rolling.

So what’s happening in the north London ripening caves? I have developed a white cheese that tastes like a blue and called it Howard; in honour of Luke Howard who first named clouds and lived around the corner from me. The white is clouds and the taste of blue represents the sky – I don’t just throw this stuff together you know, there is method.

I have also developed a lovely hard cheese called Napier. It has a stronger flavour and is made using traditional methodsi.e. the curd is turned by hand and pressed using buckets of water.

I am also trying to set up a shopping cart on my website (so you can buy online, e-commerce is all the rage apparently) but every time I try I am distracted by paint drying somewhere – help me.

 

And lastly a quick update on where you can get Wildes Cheese

Partridges market on Saturday – Fashionable and funky

Alexandra Palace on Sunday – Easy like a Sunday morning

Sourced Market – Cool dude

Canon and Canon – Swish

ArtHouseDeli in Crouch End – Say hello to the lovely Jenny and Jo

And

Seasons restaurant in Finsbury Park – Proof that looks and brains can go together

Bar Esteban in Crouch End – Lisa is a ‘totes amaz’ doll

St Johns in Archway – Beer and food, what’s not to like

 

So until the prequel, take care.

Watch out for new stockist to be announced soon.

The Diary of an Urban Cheesemaker Part 4

It is a lovely day here in north London and the sun is beating down at a roasting 30 degrees and even the burnt out building at the bottom of the road looks rather magical (feeling slightly Morrisey-esq) and as a young man’s minds turn to love the urban cheese makers mind turns to air conditioning. This is not for me but my baby cheeses, who hate the heat and love to sit around for months at a cool 8 -12 degrees (similar to an early spring day). So why, oh why, does my little cooling system decide on the hottest day of the year it has had enough and follows the light over to the other side? Is there some great designer who thinks it is all going too well so let’s just p*** him off for a laugh?  So I have now bought another cooling unit – here comes the science bit so pay attention – my new unit is 150,000BTU which apparently is something to do with the amount of heat it takes to defrost a load of ice in an hour – who knew, who cared?

So here is the news:

I have had a bit of an industrial injury and ‘done my back in’, I wish I could say it was lifting heavy cheeses but no, I got up off my computer chair (after watching a few episodes of ‘are you being served’ on youtube – do you know how rude that really programme was?) a bit awkwardly and bang. I have never had back trouble before but it really hurts, in fact it hurt so much I even went to see the doctor. She gave me something called diazepan and diclonfenac which was supposed to kill the pain etc. Well let me tell you it kills everything – I have never been so relaxed in my whole life (even on the Victoria line) and I rediscovered the beauty of a full night’s sleep. I haven’t shouted or got annoyed in a whole week. I am going back to see her again real soon.

I have also discovered the joy of tweeting. It is brilliant get a false name and just rant. The whole world is just wittering, wittering, wittering. You can follow me @wildescheese.

I met a really nice guy in the park the other day (this is not going the way you think it is) and he was wearing the best moustache I have seen in a while. And since then I have noticed facial hair (on men and some women) is making a comeback even Mr Posh Spice, my body double, has a beard.  So I have decided to grow a designer moustache. I talked to the queen mother (my mother) about this and she is worried that I will look like Jimmy Edwards (I had no idea who he was either) or Leslie Philips, apparently he called young women fine young fillies – which I think is a horse – how bizarre but it did reminded of a fine moment in my life. A friend had rescued some battery chickens and we stood in her garden discussing if she should get a cock (it gets worse) but she was concerned that cocks were early risers but we decided that there were worse things in life than being woken early by a cock – for a whole 32 minutes I was 13 again and giggling at jokes about titty –la-las. The queen mother was also concerned I would look like a pervert and people would cross the road to avoid me which quite honestly is a plus point and happens a lot already.

Anyway the guy I met in the park was a journalist and you could just tell he was artistic and knew proper clever stuff. I really wished I had researched chucking lots of paint at a canvas and calling it “my soul having a cup of tea” or showed him my picture of Mark Spitz in speedos wearing his gold medals – so artistic and topical.

White boots, white coat and a hat, does this make me a man in a uniform? Signed photo’s on request and I’ll even staple it across the middle to give it that added excitement.

This weeks tip: when using industrial strength cleaner always read the instruction. And if it says one cap per 10 litres then don’t just glug a load of the stuff in a bucket and splash a bit of h2o; it removes the skin off your fingers and lifts paint from floors – see previous item on diazepan.

The film of my journey is still being made and hopefully a first rough cut will be here soon.

The moon is made of cheese so let’s eat our way to the stars.

Let’s talk about cheese.

My intention is to make a quality cheese using traditional methods (no e numbers or ‘flavour’ enhancing additives) and in the most ethical way possible. I am sourcing milk from non-industrial farmers as close to London as possible and will only use recycled products; I am even using a carbon neutral web provider (to be honest I am not sure I know what that is). I will not be using harsh chemicals (a hot water steamer is my weapon of choice). I am working towards being a nil waste business and want to source ingredients locally where possible.

My product range will include an ancient London cheese (if such a thing exists) a semi soft cheese washed in beer from our local micro-brewery, a soft roulade cheese made with adult ingredients e.g. sugar roasted figs in brandy or rhubarb in vodka (are you seeing a pattern forming here?). I am also thinking about a chocolate roulade but remain unconvinced – what are your thoughts? I am also considering making a range of salad cheeses famous in the med (fresh, creamy and salty) but wrapped with local herbs perhaps parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. The great thing about being your own boss is you can make whatever cheese that takes your fancy that week. And I am a great believer in satisfying my every fancy!

I hear the ice cream van outside so laters.

The Urban Cheese Maker – Royale-uni: Nil point

I received an email the other day from a woman asking me if I wanted to buy her second hand humidifier. If you know anything about humidifiers it was a good piece of kit but a bit too good for my needs. Anyway she wasn’t going to let that stop her selling it to me and we spent sometime discussing the affects of a wind tunnel on Barbie’s hair. And needless to say I now own a humidifier and a hairless Barbie – on an interesting point it is the effect of dry air that gives you wrinkles, so my theory goes that the more moisture in the air the less wrinkles (my face is going to spend a lot of time next to that kit). Although I also believe if you eat standing up the calories go straight through you. Go figure.

The point being she reminded me that I hadn’t done an update of my blog so here it is. Royale-Uni nil point

I look back and realise that nearly six months have passed since my last chat with the people of the world. And so much has happened.

The lease has now been signed on my new dairy and the builders have moved in and are turning it into cheese domination HQ. They are also going to build me a cheese ripening cave – how exciting is that – a ripening cave in north London. I feel I have grown into a proper man now that I have a cave. A cave, A cave, A cave – it’s a man thing. A cave for me and my cheese: the cheese will mature and I will get younger.

I have started thinking about my product range and wonder if there is a way of making a flirty cheese with alcohol and chocolate all the things a middle aged man with strange ideas wants from life.

I miss being angry and the joy of random acts of rudeness to complete strangers. I know it sounds strange but I think as Londoners we rather enjoy the act of being rude and angry about stuff. The roads and the tube system being our favourite places to flock and be angry.

Oooooh I nearly forgot I went to the House of Commons to some breakfast thing about creating employment (I think strategy and delivery plan and partnership working were only mentioned about 392 times) but I met a couple of really nice people: one is an artist from north London she was really nice and I didn’t want to be rude to her once – amazing. I know nothing of art and haven’t put up art since that famous Mark Spitz wearing only his speedos and Olympic medals poster.  I also meet a guy who ran a infamous club in Green Lanes many years ago – he owes me, he owes me good; I wasted a whole youth in his clubs and I have no idea how much money I chucked at the bar and what made it worse……. he looked really good.  It is not fair he should have a face like an ordnance survey map of Peru.

Grace Jones and that hola hoop: I love you

My film career has already started the first scene has been filmed.  I looked like a bag of ****. I had rushed unwashed from the gym (what’s a midlife crisis without gym membership or a motorbike or black leather). And just because I can I didn’t shave and was wearing a ‘that will look nice on holiday but like a freak in London’ yellow tee-shirt. They were very nice but I think I came across as a bit ‘touched’ so hold tight for a sneak preview soon.

I woke up yesterday. And for the first time since being unplugged from the matrix I had the thought ‘I want a proper job, a job with a manager, a job with an IT department, a job where somebody/anybody takes responsibility’. But it was 3am and I had self medicated with a really nice Rioja.

And my final thought: if you have nothing nice to say about people come sit next to me.

Diary of an Urban Cheesemaker: Part Deux

Welcome back to the blog of an urban cheesemaker and the second thrilling instalment of my journey to being an excellent cheesemaker and a bit of spiritual enlightenment.

I want to thank those of you that have posted a response to the first chapter (yes even those of you who thought likening myself to Neo in the Matrix was just too ridiculous).

Before I tell you what has been happening this month I thought I should respond to a few of your comments.

To my mother who laughed out loud when she read my blog: no I have not reached ‘that’ difficult age in a man’s life. And there is no medical evidence that I have finally lost my grip on reality!

I would also like to bring to the attention of the cynics out there that the male menopause does exist and it is called the Andro-pause. It is signalled by such things as

Memory loss – I go up stairs, get to the top, why am I here, no idea, go downstairs again – oh yes I needed the toilet

Bladder weakness – what can I say but it is sterile and is a good plant food

Unprovoked ranting – how can Britain owe all this money, who do we owe it to? And if Greece, Spain, Italy and Ireland owe more than us then who has got all the money? And how come after 3 editions of the weather (local news, national news and channel 4) I still have no idea what the weather will be like tomorrow.

There were a couple of other symptoms but I just can’t recall them just at this moment!

Shut up Philip and tell us your exciting news.

I’ve got a film – yes me an Andro-pausal (is that a real word?) old cheesemaker has a film. I had a phone call from a local film company who read my blog and are interested in making a film about my change of life.  I spoke to the lovely Katy at Black Bag Productions (www. blackbagproductions.co.uk) about the movie which she is hoping to start filming in the New Year. We will be doing a script run through next month so more in chapter 3.

I am proper excited!

Where will it all stop – a centre spread (do they still have centre-folds in this digital age?) in the specialist cheesemaker monthly newsletter.

An ‘at home’ piece in the milking man periodical “here is Philip luxuriating on his stainless steel draining table dressed in fetching thigh length white Wellington boots and a fitted white overall in a classic A line cut”, ideas you can use in your dairy.

I need to give some thought to my riders. I want Daniel Craig to play me in the movie of my life. I want white lilies in my dressing room and no civilians within 30 meters of me. Oh and no stairs!

As we speak I am close to signing the lease on a property owned by my lovely and flexible local council so next month is a big news week.

Time for my afternoon nap

See you for part three – the Christmas edition.

Mid life crisis – what mid life crisis?

Welcome to my blog page.  I want to tell you the story of my journey from stable employment to being an artisan cheese maker.  I hope you find it entertaining.

Let’s start:

Mid life crisis version 1

Many years ago I remember going to some family event of some description – probably a wedding. And I remember my mother talking to the other old people (anyone over the age of 30) about a family member who was suffering from a mid life crisis.  I remember this man in tight colourful trousers (it was the 70’s) dancing wildly on the dance floor with a teenage cousin. I couldn’t work out what was his problem but it sounded really serious and definitely something to avoid.

Mid life crisis version 2

Later in life I discovered another form of mid life crisis – “what the **** happened here”. I guess Talking Heads understood the essence of this crisis in their song how did I get here.

Mid life crisis version 2a

How did I get here and there is no way I can stand it another minute longer.

I had a proper job with proper pay, proper terms and conditions but somehow a few years ago it became clear (often around 3am) that this job was unrewarding, unsatisfying and my bosses seemed unable to make reasoned and logical decisions. Even the language made me want to cry: over-aching, underpinning, strategy, aims, objectives, framework and competencies.

And then came the recession and my employer needed to make job cuts and redundancies.

Thank you to the recession because suddenly here was the escape hatch out of this mundane meaningless employment.

I am reminded of the movie matrix when Neo the hero was faced with two pills by Morpheus: pill one to try and hang-on to something you don’t want anymore or pill two, swallow, shut your eyes and hope it is a soft landing.  For the first time ever I found the courage to take pill number two.

6 months later I am out of the matrix and have started to rediscover traditional skills such as bread making, jam and preserves making, cheese making and not being randomly angry at strangers!

At 7 months I watched the apprentice (note to self – you watch too much TV) and old Alan Sugar was rattling on about finding a passion.  I don’t want to be salacious but I thought passion was something you did after dark with the curtains closed but a wise person explained it was about doing something you enjoyed and enjoying doing it well.

Eureka; I love eating and I love cheese and I love making food, I love talking about it, I love shopping for it blah blah!

There you have it, step 1.

Step 2 will follow.


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