Le Rustique

I love cheese. Who doesn’t!? I must admit I’m not a hardcore cheese lover – I don’t often crave it (I have such a sweet tooth that pretty much all my cravings are sweet!) and I generally prefer milder cheeses to strong ones, which I think would make every cheese connoisseur turn their nose up at me! In my opinion there’s almost no savoury meal that isn’t made better by the addition of cheese though, and I’m sure you’ll all agree that the world be a pretty sad place without cheesy carbs! Cheese on toast.. mac & cheese.. cheese baked into bread.. cheesy garlic bread.. giant chunks of cheese in a salad.. and of course my favourite food – pizza!

Despite not being a fan of strong cheeses, my tastes are slowly maturing and recently there have even been plenty of times when I’ve been at a restaurant and have been so tempted by the cheeseboard for dessert that I’ve ordered both that and a sweet one, so maybe there’s still hope for me and blue cheese yet!

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Anyway onto the press event and it’s safe to say I was seriously excited when I was invited down – Le Rustique is pretty much a household name for Camembert; whenever I think of Camembert I think of their signature wooden box and gingham cloth packaging and I’d genuinely struggle to name another brand! The event was held at St Ermin’s hotel, right next to the iconic Westminster Abbey. Since I live so close to London and travel in everyday for work, I rarely visit the more touristy areas and I forget just how many historic buildings and beautiful places there are in London! (In true British style it was a typically rainy day though, hence the dull pictures – sorry!).

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The event was a sweety and savoury event – as well as cheese there were different types of honey which is why it was held at St Ermin’s – the hotel has its very own new hives and we were taken on a tour of them – definitely a first for me; I usually run for my life every time I see a bee!

Whatever expectations I had for the event, they were far exceeded – it was awesome! We started off learning a little about bees – the different types, how honey is made and how what the bees feed on (rather than the type of bee!) is what determines how the honey tastes. Then we put on (extremely flattering!) bee keeping suits and headed up to their bee terrace to see the hives. To be honest I thought I’d be pretty scared, but being fully protected in the suit I was surprisingly calm, and it was amazing to see them all at work in their hive.

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After that we headed back downstairs for the part I was (obviously!) most excited about – the tasting!! The room was set up beautifully – bright and colourful with a pretty countryside scene complete with bread baskets, sprigs of lavender, picnic chairs with Le Rustique’s signature gingham cloths as cushion covers and even a fake grass lining.

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First we tried Camembert at various stages of maturity – young, ripe and mature. I often associate Camembert with being a really strong cheese but actually the young and ripe cheeses were really mild. You could clearly see the texture and colour of the cheese changing between the different maturities (and I could definitely smell the difference too!!) – the young cheese held its shape but by the time it had matured it was far more gooey. For me the ripe one was the perfect texture and flavour – delicious and unique without it being overpowering – it was by far my favourite 🙂

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We got to try their Brie too which had a subtle mushroomy taste – it’d be perfect in so many savoury dishes! It was so interesting to learn about the cheese making process, and how their unique packaging isn’t just for aesthetics – it’s functional too. It allows the cheese to breathe, so the cheese continues to mature even once it’s packaged up and put onto supermarket shelves. So when you’re buying it, the amount of time left until the use by date determines how strong tasting it will be – something else I didn’t know, and never would’ve thought to check – I would’ve assumed it would all be of a certain strength!

If you prefer it young, you should eat it 35 days before the Use By Date – it has a firm texture and is very light and fresh. For a softer texture (and my favourite flavour), eat it at the ripe stage, which is between 20 and 35 days before the Use By Date. And for those of you who like a really creamy, soft and strong flavoured cheese (and want to smell your entire kitchen out!), go for mature – 20 days before the Use By Date.

As well as their traditional rounds, they’ve recently introduced new individually portioned cheeses – something very useful if you’re like me and struggle with any sort of portion control when food tastes good!!

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After that we moved onto honey and cheese pairings – three types of honey of varying sweetness and flavours. My favourite was predictably the sweetest one, but they all went beautifully with the strong savoury flavour of the Camembert. We were served up generous slices too – and there were only five of us so we got a whole plate each – talk about living the dream! Our final stop was with a lovely woman from Lavender and Lovage who had created some amazing recipes.. and baked them fresh so we could sample them there and then!

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They couldn’t have been more perfect – I think my face lit up when I saw them! We were given Brie and onion chutney tarts and Apple and Camembert scones served with onion chutney and honey butter. Honey butter! How had I never thought of that before!? It was a beautiful sweet and savoury combination – soft, whipped salted butter with a generous swirl of honey stirred through. Seriously, you have to try it yourself at home; it’s life changing! Paired with the savoury scones it was absolutely heavenly – I left feeling SO excited to recreate them myself at home. The scones were even still warm from the oven – food heaven! The tarts were awesome too – Brie and onion chutney are a match made in heaven but serve them warm in a tart and I pretty much couldn’t think of a better snack, starter or canapé at a dinner party.

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To top off an incredible event we were given goody bags to take away full of cheese, the recipes from the amazing things we’d tried and a couple of other recipes which sound equally amazing – hazelnut and Camembert parcels and “scotch eggs” where the egg is replaced with delicious cubes of melty Camembert.

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As many of you will know, I hate following recipes but I’m definitely going to make an exception for these – the bakes we tried were bloody delicious and the other two sounded equally amazing! And of course there’s always Camembert baked into a loaf of bread….

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Yes I demolished the whole thing – don’t judge me!

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Everything we tried was amazing but my personal highlight was the warm apple and Camembert scones with the honey butter and I’d love for you to be able to make some for yourselves! So here’s the recipe courtesy of Le Rustique/Lavender and Lovage:

Le Rustique Camembert and Apple Scones with Honey Butter

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Makes: 10-12 medium scones / 18-20 mini scones

Ingredients:

Honey butter:
5 tbsp runny honey (flower or lavender honey)
150g unsalted butter

Scones:
450g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp sea salt
100g butter, cut into small pieces
100g Le Rustique Camembert, diced
1 small eating apple, peeled, cored and very finely diced or grated
300ml milk mixed with 1 large beaten egg
Poppy seeds

Method:

  1. To make the honey butter: beat the honey and the butter with a hand-held electric whisk until light and fluffy. Set to one side until needed.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 220C/450F/Gas mark 7 and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and then rub in the butter until it resembles bread crumbs.
  4. Stir in the Le Rustique Camembert and apple and add just enough of the milk and egg mixture to make a soft dough, it should not be too sticky. Reserve the remaining milk and egg mixture for the glaze.
  5. Gather into a ball and place in a floured work surface; roll out gently to a thickness of about 2cm and stamp out the scones with a 5cm scone cutter. Gather together all the offcuts and continue to stamp out scones until all the dough is used up.
  6. Place the scones onto the prepared baking sheet and brush them with the egg and milk mixture before scattering some poppy seeds over the top.
  7. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are well risen and golden brown.
  8. Cool for a few minutes on a wire rack before serving warm with the honey butter.

I also couldn’t believe how amazing the combination of honey and Camembert were together – I know cheese is often served with sweet things like fruit loaf and grapes, but the sweetness of the honey with the distinctive full flavour of the Camembert was divine! As a pastry lover I am an absolute sucker for a good pie, so here’s another recipe that I hope you’ll love just as much as me!

Le Rustique Camembert and Hazelnut Parcels with Quick Fruit and Honey Chutney

Makes: 4 parcels for a main meal / 8 to 10 mini parcels

Ingredients:

Fruit and Honey Chutney:
500g apples and pears, cored and finely diced (no need to peel)
1 onion, peeled and finely diced
50g sultanas
½ tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp salt
120ml runny honey (Acacia honey)
150ml cider apple vinegar

Parcels:
1 tbsp olive oil
40g hazelnuts, crushed
2 to 3 shallots, or half a red onion, peeled and finely diced
500g block ready-made puff pastry
1 x 250g Le Rustique Camembert, cut into 4 pieces
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 egg, beaten

Method:

  1. To make the chutney: place all the ingredients into a large saucepan and simmer over a medium to low heat for about 30 to 45 minutes, until the fruit is cooked and there is no liquid left – stirring all the time. Set to one side to cool and thicken once cooked.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the crushed hazelnuts and the shallots/onion; fry them over a medium heat until the shallots/onion are soft and the nuts are toasted. Set to one side.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 220C/450F/Gas mark 7 and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  4. Cut the pastry block into 4 and place them on a floured work surface, roll each piece out into a square, about 15cm x 15cm. Divide the hazelnut and shallots/onion mixture between the 4 pastry squares.
  5. Cut Le Rustique Camembert into thick slices and place on top of the mixture and then bring the corners up to the middle of the parcel, securing the pastry in the middle with the fresh rosemary sprigs. Place the parcels on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Brush the beaten egg over the tops of the parcels and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the pastry has risen and the parcels are golden brown.
  7. Serve immediately with the fruit and honey chutney, and salad for a light luncheon or supper dish.

Happy baking 🙂

Link to their website: www.lerustique.com

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