Pork Ewe has a sweet twist for Valentines Day.

Our love for all things cheese is fairly obvious but we do have a soft spot for sweets too.

 Especially when created by the talented pastry chef Gareth Williams. You may have seen Gareth popping up around the town selling his beautiful creations through his business Covered in crumbs.

Although Covered in crumbs is in it's first year Gareth is by no means new to the business of delicious pastry goods. Gareth has built up a wealth of experience working as sous chef at Restaurant Mason's and made headlines winning last years Hunter Culinary Associations Food Fight.

We are excited to collaborate with Gareth for Valentines Day to bring you a Cheese and Dessert Hamper full of excitement, flavour and romance.

French cheese and Tart's with flavours including Chocolate, Salted Caramel and Blackberry, or Strawberry, Almond and Yogurt you would be crazy not to take advantage of this delicious combo.
Check out more about what's on offer by clicking here

Five things you may not know about cheese judging From our very own cheese Judge, Sonia Cousins

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Imagine being closed in a room full of the best cheeses in Australia, and you're not allowed out until all of them have been tasted. It might sound like all of your cheese dreams have been answered, but it's all in a days work for a cheese judge.

 

Sonia is one of only 10 cheese professionals who judge each year at the Australian Grand Dairy Awards, Australia's most prestigious cheese competition. Each year the cream of the crop of local cheeses - those that have already been awarded Gold medals at the state qualifying shows, such as the Sydney Royal - are gathered in a room in Melbourne, and the champions are chosen. 

 

The Awards are announced in February each year, but judging takes place long before that, and is closed to the public. So what really goes on behind those doors, with tables full of cheese surrounded by white-coated judges? 

 

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Here are Sonia's five things you may not know about cheese judging.

1. It's not about like or dislike

Cheese judge's put their personal preferences aside. Most cheeses are judged "blind" - that is. without any packaging or labels present - so judges can be as objective as possible.

 

2. Cheese judges are highly trained professionals

It takes years to master the skills required to objectively work your way through up to 60 cheeses before lunchtime. That's right, six-zero. Tough job, I know, but someone has to do it.

Every style of cheese is judged against a set of criteria that are unique to that style. For example, blue cheeses are supposed to be salty, with a balance between the blue and cheese flavours. A pleasant acid tang is desirable in a vintage cheddar, but in a brie? Not so much. After years of training and tasting (working as a cheesemonger certainly helps), we build up a memory bank of the ever-growing variety of cheeses available.

 

3. Yes, we spit

That's right - it's not about eating 60 pieces of cheese before lunchtime, but tasting them. So, just like wine judges, we spit them out. Having a full stomach dulls the appetite and the senses - we want the last cheese of the day to be judged with the same integrity as the first.

 

4. All 5 senses are used

It's not strictly correct to say that we taste the cheese. We actually use all five senses to evaluate the cheese - sight, touch, smell, taste and even sound. Taste is just a small part of the process. How it looks and what it smells like are just as important too.

 

5. Gold medal doesn't mean 1st, and silver medal doesn't mean 2nd

In most Australian cheese competitions, cheeses are awarded a score out of 20. If the cheese scores 18 or more, it is awarded gold; if it scores 17-18, it's awarded silver; and bronze usually means 16-17. If there are lots of really good cheeses that score 18 or more, there are several gold medals awarded. Or, if the standard is not so high, there may be no gold medals at all.

 

And finally...

One of the most common questions I'm asked is "How did you learn so much about cheese?" Well, the best way to learn about cheese it to eat it - and I've eaten a lot over the past 14 years.

So next time you take a bite of your favourite wedge or wheel, don't just chew and swallow. Take a few moments to consider its complex flavour nuances, or the way it melts across your tongue, or the aromas that linger after you've finished eating. 

You might just find your inner cheese judge.

Amaretti Virginia

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Amaretti Virginia originates from the small town of Sassello in the heart of Liguria, Italy and has been in production since 1860.

Their renowned range of specialty biscuits began with traditional amaretti and now includes a range of amaretti, cantucci, and baci di dama.

This may just sound like I'm speaking Italian so lets break it down a little.

Amaretti is made from ground apricot kernals and almonds or almond paste, eggs, sugar, often flavoured with chocolate, fruits or liquor.

Not to be confused with Amaretto, an almond flavoured Italian liqueur.

Derived from the Italian word "amaro" which means "bitter," and as these little biscuits are flavoured with bitter almonds, they were called "amaretti" literal translation "the little bitter ones."

Serve them with dessert wines, liqueur,  ice cream, or best of all with a good coffee.

Buon apettito!

Assorted gift bags in the following varieties - soft amaretti - crunchy amaretti - chocolate-coated chocolate biscuits with apricot filling - biscuits with chocolate cream and hazelnut cream filling

Assorted gift bags in the following varieties

- soft amaretti

- crunchy amaretti

- chocolate-coated chocolate biscuits with apricot filling

- biscuits with chocolate cream and hazelnut cream filling

Soft Amaretti Biscuits These amaretti are made the traditional way with apricot kernels, which give the biscuits their distinctive almond-like flavour. They have a delightfully chewy texture.

Soft Amaretti Biscuits These amaretti are made the traditional way with apricot kernels, which give the biscuits their distinctive almond-like flavour. They have a delightfully chewy texture.

Soft Amaretti with Fruit ("Amaretti Soffici alla Frutta") These soft amaretti have a delightfully chewy texture and are flavoured with real fruit pulp - strawberry, blueberry, raspberry or peach. The biscuits are individually wrapped to maintain freshness. They are also gluten-free.

Soft Amaretti with Fruit ("Amaretti Soffici alla Frutta") These soft amaretti have a delightfully chewy texture and are flavoured with real fruit pulp - strawberry, blueberry, raspberry or peach. The biscuits are individually wrapped to maintain freshness. They are also gluten-free.

An assortment of individually wrapped cantucci (also called biscotti), sugar-coated crunchy amaretti, soft amaretti and baci di dama ("lady's kisses") - two small hazelnut biscuits sandwiched together with a chocolate ganache.

An assortment of individually wrapped cantucci (also called biscotti), sugar-coated crunchy amaretti, soft amaretti and baci di dama ("lady's kisses") - two small hazelnut biscuits sandwiched together with a chocolate ganache.

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Glazed Ham

What you need?

Leg of cooked ham (half or whole), whole cloves to stud, 1 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 5 Tbs honey, 2 Tbs Dijon mustard

What to do? 

Firstly preheat oven to 180°C, then prepare the glaze: combine juice, sugar, honey and mustard in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

Using a sharp knife carefully cut around the shank of the ham about 10cm from the end, carefully put the tip of the knife under the edge of the skin and gently remove the skin, you may need to use your fingers to gently ease the skin away from the layer of fat.

Score a criss cross pattern into the fat, but don’t cut right through to the ham. Place ham on a large baking dish lined with foil or baking paper & place a clove into the middle of each crisscross diamond space.

Using a pastry brush, or spoon, glaze the ham evenly & cook for 30 – 45 mins, basting several times during cooking.

Stand the ham for at least 10 mins before carving & brush a final glaze over the ham just before serving.