No sooner, it seems, do I write about the long awaited arrival of Autumn, than Christmas lumbers into view. Now I know this is as much to do with my recent slackness in updating this blog as it is to do with the late onset of Autumn, and nothing whatsoever to do with the early arrival of Christmas, which only appears to come round quicker every year, but still… Anyway, if you’re here looking for Christmas ideas, then I’ll refer you to my post last Christmas posts from January , right now I still have autumn to get out of the way. As, incidentally, does the weather – for all that as I write, Scotland is to all intents and purposes being blown away (a scenario that will doubtless please many, on both sides of Hadrian’s Wall) by the fiercest winds this century – so fierce they have their own Wikipedia entry. Already! Making ‘Bawbag’ official. Kind of - down here in the South, although it is admittedly a bit blowy right now, we are still in the throes of what is technically a drought. It really has hardly rained at all this autumn. And we’ve had three, maybe four days you could properly call chilly. And we’re almost a third of the way through December! At the risk of banging on, that’s not right is it? SOMETHING MUST BE DONE.
Anyway, back to food. Quinces. Remember? I’d made jelly, and was about to make membrillo. It went like this. Again, I simply followed that recipe and it came out fine, so I have little to add in terms of advice, other than do it: both the jelly and the membrillo (or quince cheese, if you must). It really is so easy, and so very tasty. The one comment I would make is that living as I do (and wouldn’t change for the world) with someone who can’t eat cheese, the opportunities for the consumption of membrillo might appear limited, but that just means it lasts longer. I made my slab over three weeks ago now and took half of it, along with a big wedge of manchego to a dinner party hosted by our good friends Edgar and Lindsay. A large part of the rest remains in our fridge, wrapped in greaseproof paper and sealed in a Tupperware container and will keep there perfectly happily for months, or even up to a year, I’m told, not that it stands even the slightest chance of remaining undevoured that long. I would observe that as it matures, the flavour develops an increasingly strong hint of banana, but that’s the only difference I’ve noticed so far. And I have no problem with banana.
Although membrillo is naturally and traditionally paired with manchego, what with being Spanish and all, it is worth bearing in mind that manchego is not the only cheese. Not even in Spain. I have found that it pairs particularly well with a nice crumbly Lancashire cheese (which pretty much by definition means it will go equally well with Caerphilly, Wensleydale and any other mildish, crumbly white cheese). And the jelly too. And of course you don’t need cheese at all, both the membrillo and the jelly will sit very happily on a plate with cold meats, pates or a good old pork pie.
Ah. Pork pie. One of those combinations of words I cannot write, say, or even think without my mouth starting to water just a little bit. I have long intended to get round to making one of my own, so much so that it’s an annual event, an essential part, indeed, of my own personal advent calender to wake up one day and realize that I’m not going to have time to make one for this Christmas either, again. We are now rapidly approaching that day for this year. Damn it.