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Monday, July 12


I love this verdant island of Winnie The Pooh, Peter Rabbit and Alice in Wonderland. Seven years with my Kentish man (not to be confused with a man of Kent) has turned me into a raving Anglophile.

I love English tea and gardens;
the National Health Service; British
libraries, theatre and authors; museums and galleries; bluebells, for-get-me-nots and buttercups;
fields of red poppies, maze and corn; fireworks on Bonfire
Night; fish and chips; toad-in-a-hole and shepherd's pie; characterful pubs with broad beams, roaring fires and docile dogs; the weekend Guardian; BBC's Radio 4; ramblers; village fetes; farm shops; farmers markets; Ocado, Waitrose and Lakeland; lavender ice cream; bunting; allotments; terriers; narrow boats; clouds; churchyards with acres of old tombstones; castle ruins; resilient towns with their own butchers, green grocers and bakers; Beachy Head; Devon and Somerset; wild exmoor ponies; the River Thames; brave, creative entrepreneurs who make things on British soil, like Emma Bridgewater; McVitie’s Original Digestive Biscuits, and Stilton.

My favourite tea time/any time treat is a pot of Yorkshire tea (preferably in Emma Bridewater pot and cups) McVitie’s Original Digestive Biscuits, with a hefty wedge of Stilton. This combination is the perfect merging of flavours, textures and colours.

Apparently, the biscuits and cheese were first created over 160 years ago. Because of the high content of baking soda, the biscuits were considered an aid in digestion, hence the name. While definitely not health food, they are free from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (trans fats) and artificial colour.

Stilton is probably my favourite cheese, though mature cheddar runs a close second. I never appreciated a cheese board until I moved to England. Nobody (not French brie, nor Italian Parmigiano Reggiano, or Spanish Manchedo --- all absolutely gorgeous) make cheese like the English.

According to the official Stilton website, only six dairies in
Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire are licensed to produce Stilton. The brand I usually buy, Cropwell Bishop Creamy, is a well established family run business.

Sitting in the garden, sipping tea made by my husband (Richard doesn’t often cook, but he makes the
world’s best tea and coffee) nibbling Stilton and biscuits, is my idea of domestic bliss.

I do many other things with "The King of Cheese." Who am I to resist such tantalizing seduction?

Stilton, bacon, potato soup; Stilton, red pear and romaine salad; Stilton on steak; Stilton on a burger; Stilton as a garnish for homemade tomato soup; Stilton on bamboo skewers with seedless grapes and apples; Stilton and watermelon; Stilton with sour cream, and a dash of coarse black pepper, to accompany a crudite platter. All superb ways to enjoy this complex cheese --- but none quite as intoxicating as Stilton and a plain Digestive Biscuit.

Union Jack art pinched off the internet. Tea pot picture pinched from Emma Bridgewater website. Round stilton cheese picture pinched from Cropwell Bishop Creamy site.