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Gus Mears: Live at Frome Cheese Show


Gus Mears
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By almost no popular demand, it’s my review of the Frome Cheese and Agricultural Show from Saturday. 

Firstly, I may as well note that I have not so much as fallen off the vegetarian wagon, as nosedived violently off it after a running jump. I partially blame Onyx and the ‘chippy tea’ thread for this, but I succumbed a week ago to a mixed grill from Stav’s Kebabs in Trowbridge and have spent the last week meandering between self-hatred and mounds of beef. On the plus side, it meant I got to eat enormous quantities of delicious meat yesterday.

Few things fill me with such pride about living in the yokel part of the country than events like this. Bath and West, Frome Cheese Show and the Dorset Steam Fair are all amongst my favourite days of the year. It started off superbly, with the effects of a red wine hangover and a taxi that was delayed to the station. It continued in this vain on the bus to grounds, where we managed to sit next to the resident bus nutter, who spent the journey muttering to himself and staring at my other half with the same lustre that the rest of us reserved for the cheese.

ANIMALS

The highlight of the day was undoubtedly being allowed onto the main arena field to meet all 50 of the Wiltshire and Artillery Dogs, in addition to the Fox Hounds for the South West hunt. I don’t spend enough of my time being assaulted by these fine creatures.

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I also got to experience my yearly dose of the Sheep Show, which is the same every year and always brilliant. Each breed of sheep comes out to their own entrance music and the bloke running it makes loads of double entendre that the kids can’t appreciate. Speaking of which, my other half handled a cock in the petting zoo while I went to get drinks.

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There was also the yearly Shetland Pony Grand National. This ought to be the red mark on the racing calendar reserved for Aintree currently. You would think this would be very cute and noncompetitive, but two of the front runners were going at it hammer and tongs and one of them took a massive bump off the horse. Outstanding heel work, as the jockey smacked the floor in anger and refused to do an interview after the race.

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CHEESE

I spent much of my time unsurprisingly in the brand-new Cheese Pavilion.

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There were roughly 1,200 types to try out and having attempted to try all of them within the eight hours I was there, I can conclude that the following were my FAVE THREE:

1. Cornish Blue – intriguing, complex and undeniably delicious. Has a similar flavour to Roquefort, without the astringency to it which I generally don’t like. Retains a creaminess that blues with this much flavour often don’t have and I would heartily recommend this event/product to all of you.

2. Old Burford – A soft ewe’s cheese from Shepton Mallet. Good creaminess, with just enough of that sheep’s cheese flavour to keep the purists interested. Probably not as spectacular as the other two on the podium, but an excellent effort.

3. Glastonbury Twang – The finest cheddar of the day. Passes the Gus Mears test of not crumbling like ash the second you stick a knife into it. Strong, robust, but with rich and oaky flavour at the back which the best cheddar has.

I also purchased a large wedge of Stilton during the cheese auction, where they sell off the winning cheeses. If you ever want to find a way to waste large sums of money in bizarre fashion, this is the how to do it.

This was also a find. Popped cheese!

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OTHER FOOD AND BOOZE

Some people chain smoke. Yesterday, I chain biltonged. I purchased £8 of artisan biltong immediately after arriving and spent the day grabbing pieces out of my pocket. This is possibly the best thing I have ever come up with.

The food, as ever with these things, was outstanding. It’s Wurzel jingoism, but I do think West Country meat is of as high a standard as you can get and I sampled a lot of top draw cured meats and one of the best sausage rolls I can recall from Little Jack Horner’s. In these times of neoliberal crisis, if you wanted evidence that globalisation is a good thing, you need look no further than a Cuban Sandwich made with West Country pork, which I had for lunch and adored.  

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The only mild disappointment was a hog roast roll at the end of the day which was average even in my inebriated state.

I would have needed significantly more livers than I am ever likely to possess to have tried every cider available. I bought my majority throughout the day from Weymouth Cider, who do a cracker of a flat rhubarb cider and one that tasted like Red Diesel and had approximately the same influence on my sobriety. Also, I am not a vodka man, but I can’t recommend this milk vodka from Black Cow in Dorset enough, it’s unlike anything I have had before in the most positive sense.

So, another fine year at the Frome Cheese Show. I staggered home for about 18:30, watched Smokey and the Bandit for an hour and passed out before the England game had got to half time. I am relatively sure I have been secreting cheese from my pores today and wouldn’t want it any other way.

 

Edited by Gus Mears
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