Tag Archives: Stilton

Cheese-Rolling Contests

Cheese Rolling Contest

This could be the plot of a Hugh Grant movie: a small English village is bypassed by the area’s new highway, leading the town’s residents to dream up a cheese-rolling contest to attract visitors.

As sad and kooky as that sounds, it’s actually the true story of Stilton, England, namesake of the famous blue cheese.

The now-annual event, held Monday, was invented in the 1960s by two pub landlords who told villagers it was “an ancient tradition” to convince them to participate, the BBC reports.

“It’s certainly gone from being a quirky idea to a massive event for the village,” the news outlet quotes a local historian as saying.

While I would love to see an actual wheel of Stilton being rolled down the street, the cheese is too soft and crumbly to make it all the way down the town’s main drag.

Instead, teams roll wooden blocks cut from an old telegraph pole and painted with blue veins to resemble the cheese, according to the BBC.

But even if the cheese were sturdy enough to withstand a good tumble, it seems there could be a liability issue.

In Gloucestershire, “daredevil cheese chasers” have for two centuries spent a late May bank holiday hurling themselves down an incredibly steep hill while trying to catch a wheel of Double Gloucester cheese, the BBC says in a separate report. Not surprisingly, most end up in a heap at the bottom.

Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling Contest

Last year, contestants had to chase a foam cheese after police told the cheese maker she could face legal action, the BBC says.

And here I thought the U.S. was a litigious nation. It seems a bit unfair that simply making, or even providing, a wheel of cheese could cause someone to be liable for an injury suffered by a knucklehead who decided to throw it (and himself) down a hill. On the bright side, I suppose, there’s no more wasting a good wheel of Double Gloucester.

Astoria Bier & Cheese

Astoria Bier & Cheese

I have to admit that I don’t get out of Manhattan a lot. There’s so much to see, do and eat in these 24 square miles that it doesn’t often occur to me to check out what the other boroughs have to offer.

But when I read about Astoria Bier & Cheese, I decided to enlist Dave for a trip to Queens. Frankly, it didn’t take much convincing.

Me: Do you want to go drink beer and eat cheese in Astoria? I’ll drive.

No response from Dave necessary as he’s already grabbing his coat.

What we found was a very cool shop/bar/cafe boasting an impressive selection of dozens of cheeses, hundreds of bottled beers and 10 craft beers on tap. What was intended as a pre-dinner snack quickly turned into us hanging out for three hours. (Randomly running into a college friend and his girlfriend was an added bonus.)

Here’s what we ate:

Astoria Bier & Cheese Cheese Curds

Vermont cheddar cheese curds with sourdough and black olive bread

Astoria Bier & Cheese Beer Cheese

Housemade beer cheese with hot pretzel and mustard

Although I was so enamored with the beer cheese (basically a creamy, boozy cheddar) that I could have eaten three servings, the real standout was the beer and cheese pairing plate:

Astoria Bier & Cheese pairings

For $18 we got four surprisingly unique and beautifully presented cheeses paired with generous tasting portions of craft beers. It’s perfect for sharing. Here’s what ABC was serving that night (from left to right):

Bra Tenero (Italian cow’s milk) and Firestone Walker Pivo Pils

El Romeral (Spanish sheep’s milk) and Ommegang Rare Vos Belgian Pale Ale

Tete de Moine (Swiss cow’s milk) and Stochasticity Project Grapefruit Slam IPA

Stilton (English cow’s milk) and Brooklyn Brewery Fire & Ice Porter

I was so impressed with the well-curated selections and the cheesemonger’s enthusiastic explanation of each pairing in front of us. (I also thought the beer flight boards were pretty cool. Dave, who dabbles in woodworking, claims he can make some for me. Stay tuned for pix of that project.)

With the pairings changing regularly and us too full to try the grilled cheese, we will definitely be back to ABC soon.

Astoria Bier & Cheese, 3414 Broadway, Astoria, 718-545-5588