Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Keith Floyd and Auvergne rarebit

The news that Keith Floyd had died at the early age of 65 does not come as a huge surprise. Even in his heyday he was clearly drinking too much; my publishing friends said that he was very difficult to deal with. In recent years, as his career declined, his health was the subject of various alarming bulletins.

I first watched him rather late in his TV career, and could not quite see why he was so popular. The charm and ebullience had faded, to be replaced by a more manic quality. He didn't seem to be enjoying himself much. You were uncomfortably aware of the tensions as filming took place.

The book of Floyd on France, which someone gave to me, was a nice surprise. The instructions for many of the recipes are a little too perfunctory: I don't believe that they would all work without adjustment. But the book is inspiring, nonetheless, because it is the work of a genuine enthusiast. That is the quality that fans saw in the best of his TV work.

Floyd's version of the following recipe has five to six cloves of garlic, simply squished into the mixture. Not everyone wants to eat nearly raw garlic, and especially not in the kind of dish you are most likely to eat at lunchtime. Floyd specifies Tomme de Cantal - the young, soft version of the cheese. It is hard to find. Serves 4.

4 thick slices of white bread (crusts as well, if you like), torn into chunks
1 clove garlic, chopped
50g butter
As much cheese (Cantal, Cheddar, Gruyere - that sort of thing) as you like, cut into slivers

Pour just enough milk over the bread to give it a good soaking. You want a quantity of bread that will make a layer in a large frying pan - lay it on a large plate to check.

Melt the butter in the pan, over a low heat. Add the garlic, and stir it about. Tip in the bread, and lay the cheese on top, squishing everything down with a spatula.

Allow the mixture to brown underneath. Then brown the top under the grill.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A good story

GK Chesterton: “The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”

Voila: This book is a poetic view of 30 of the best loved French cheeses with an additional two odes to cheese. Recipes, wine pairing, three short stories and an educational section complete the book.

From a hectic life in New York City to the peace and glories of the French countryside lead me to be the co-founder of Ten years later with the words of Pierre Androuet hammering on my brain:

“Cheese is the soul of the soil. It is the purest and most romantic link between humans and the earth.”

I took pen and paper; many reams later with the midnight oil burning Tasting to Eternity was born and self published.

I believe cheese and wine lovers should be told about this publication.