NIGELLA Lawson and Samuel Pepys make strange bedfellows but what bizarrely bonds them is a fondness for Bottarga, salted and cured grey mullet roe. Unique, it’s often dubbed the ‘truffle of the sea’. 

Reaching its apogee in Sardinia but relished as a delicacy across the world (the Japanese sake snack version is called karasumi), a not inexpensive tranche of it lies well wrapped in my fridge, where it will keep for months. That’s if I can resist grating it over pasta with clams, Nigella’s fave, or shaving it onto bruschetta for a funky, umami fix. Think dried anchovies on steroids, Visually it bears an odd orangey resemblance to Spanish quince paste membrillo  – until you sniff its underlying fishiness.

Sardinians just can’t resist what they cll bottarga di muggine. My esteemed restaurant critic oppo Ruth Allan tell me she encountered bottarga grated over a Caprese salad of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil at Sardus Cucina in Altrincham; when I visited island exiles Giovanni and Salvatore diverted me with other distinctively Sardinian treats – Coratella (chicken livers and chestnuts stewed in Vernaccia di Oristano fortified wine) and malloreddus, (tiny shell-like gnocchi served with tomato and pork sausage ragu).

Though it made it difficult to venture as far afield as South Manchester lockdown has widened my culinary horizons in many ways. Thus I chanced upon bottarga via two books – Ms Lawson’s ravishing Cook-Eat-Repeat and the great Pepys Diaries. After enjoying Claire Tomalin’s biography of the great Sam I dipped into entries across the early 1660s and very jolly they were.

Samuel Pepys – too much claret and bottarga and so to bed

Take this from Wednesday, June 5, 1661: “After dinner to the office where we sat and did business, and Sir W. Pen and I went home with Sir R. Slingsby to bowls in his ally, and there had good sport, and afterwards went in and drank and talked. So home Sir William and I, and it being very hot weather I took my flageolette and played upon the leads in the garden, where Sir W. Pen came out in his shirt into his leads, and there we staid talking and singing, and drinking great drafts of claret, and eating botargo and bread and butter till 12 at night, it being moonshine; and so to bed, very near fuddled.”

Contiguous with cherry-picking this superior tittle tattle (I’m a big fan of the Alan Clark Diaries, too) Cook-Eat-Repeat arrived, definitely Nigella’s best book since How To Eat. I’m proud my review of that 1998 debut was quoted on the paperback cover: “A monument to human greed”. Alas it was dropped for the recent reprint; consigning me to the dustbin of history like many a diarist rival of Pepys.

Nigella – her bottarga dishes are among many delights in her new book

Since then, of course, Nigella has become a significant cookery writer, even for those of us not smitten by her flirtatious TV persona, pouting the likes of: “How can you resist my prodigious pavlovas?”. Like Delia she has the power to influence our ingredient shopping habits. Remember that Christmas when her advocacy of goose fat sent sales soaring? 

I doubt that’s going to happen with bottarga. It’s never going to be a regular on our supermarket shelves. The same goes for lorighittas – a braided round pasta resembling a child’s bracelet, which Nigella ordered over lunch at Olivomare a small Sardinian seafood restaurant inn Belgravia to discuss the new book with her publisher. To augment the vongole (clams) botarga added its pungent, salty oomph, confirming this combo’s place in proposed print.

Following her recipe (see below) I substituted linguine and my palourde clams were sourced from the rather wonderful Wellgate Fisheries in Clitheroe.

Close-up of the bottarga. Grate finely and don’t over-heat

The bottarga, nothing but the finest, came from rather further afield. Readers of this website know of my admiration for Jacob Kennedy’s Bocca di Lupo restaurant in Soho (ADD Cotechino link). Alongside the monthly changing feasts for two he’s still doing via mail order he also stocks bottarga supplied by Stefano Vallebona, whose family have been dealing in luxury Sardinian fish products since 1890. 

In 1997 bottarga was the first item Stefano brought to the UK, in a briefcase to share with restaurant industry pals. His producer is one of the few on the island still using the ancient ways to salt, press and air dry the mullet roe, an ancient method brought over by the Egyptians 3000 years ago. Indeed the name derives from the Arabic word battarikh and it gets a mention in groundbreaking 15th century cookbooks by Martino de Rossi and Bartolomeo Sacchi.

Bocca sell it at £19.50 for 100g (plus shipping), similar to buying it straight from the Vallebonas’ Wimbledon-based deli, which supply top restaurants. Its website is a treasure trove of Italian and Japanese specialties.

Wellgate Fisheries supplied the clams for the dish below


From Cook-Eat-Repeat, serves one as a special treat (typical Lawson)


250g clams, bottarga enough to give 3x15ml tbs when grated (never buy pre-grated), fat clove of garlic, minced, 100g lorighittas (or linguine), 2x15ml tbs extra virgin olive oil, 1 lemon, 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes, 3x15ml tbs dry white vermouth or wine, 1tsp unsalted butter.


Put the clams to soak in a bowl of cold water and leave for 15 minutes. Put the water on for the pasta and assemble and measure all your other ingredients. First peel back the pellicle (membrane) of the bottarga to leave about one and a half cm and grate it finely into a bowl until you have 2tbs’ worth, leaving a bit more to grate over the pasta as you eat.

When the water comes to the boil, add salt and then the linguine. Drain the clams, discarding any that are open.

When the pasta has four minutes to go get out a heavy-based pan with a lid that will fit both pasta and clams later and gently warm the olive oil in it. Take the pan off the heat and finely grate in the zest of the lemon and add the garlic and chilli. Stir for a minute on a lowish heat.

Turn up the heat, add the clams and pour over the vermouth or wine and clamp on the lid so the clams steam open. That should take a couple of minutes. Discard any clams that remain closed. When the linguine is cooked but al dente move it from its pot to the clam pan, add the butter and give everything a good shake. Leave to stand with the heat off for two minutes then stir in the bottarga and perhaps a sprinkle of parsley. A good stir and it’s ready.

The grey mullet for the bottarga are caught off Sardinia’s rugged coast

So what exactly is Bottarga?

The roe sac of a fish – most commonly grey mullet (di muggine), but the more saline tuna (di tonno) has its advocates. It’s salted and massaged to expel air pockets, then pressed and dried. A laborious process but worth it. The big plus point in ancient times was its keepability. Stick it in the fridge today and it will resist rot for many months. A bit like Thai fish sauce or dried shrimp? Much subtler, more delicate. Akin to caviar perhaps. So don’t cook it though, just add at the end to pasta or eggs perhaps.  

Bottarga’s premium price is down to the fact that it takes 2,300 tonnes of grey mullet to make the 150 tonnes of bottarga that is the annual consumption in Sardinia. 

The sacs are washed in iced water and gently massaged by hand to eliminate any air pockets. They are then cured in sea salt, usually set in overlapping layers for a few weeks. The resulting slabs are washed again and pressed to eliminate brine and other liquids. The slabs are then transferred to a well ventilated  ‘ageing room’ and laid on wooden shelves. In order to achieve a uniform drying process, they have to be periodically turned and are matured for several months depending on the size of the roe.

Let us salute fair Salina and Slaithwaite. The former, a volcanic Aeolian island reached by hydrofoil from Sicily, the latter a moorland mill town on the main line between Manchester and Leeds. Each has offered creative refuge to master pizzaiolos, who’ve helped shape the culinary landscape of toppings on dough.

The cases of Giuseppe Mascoli and Jim Morgan provide a romantic backdrop to the big business that pizza has become. This relatively affordable treat that, post-pandemic, prospers while other High Street rivals go under. 

Proof of the desirability of UK pizzeria chains is the expansion of the original Neapolitan-inspired destinations created by Amalfi Coast raised Giuseppe and Huddersfield Town fan Jim. Only last month shareholders in Franco Manca and sister brand The Real Greek (70 and 27 outlets respectively) approved a £93.4m takeover by a Japanese noodle conglomerate. Giuseppe had long extricated himself from the brand he created – ‘best pizza in London’ – to live the good life on Salina, making wine on the island he fell ion love with while sourcing the perfect capers for his burgeoning restaurants.

Meanwhile, since being taken over by hospitality operator Mission Mars (of Albert’s Schloss fame) Rudy’s has opened 17 sites across Britain. The latest, its sixth in Manchester where it all started, incorporates a pizza academy to stretch the skills of staff. In truth, I’d rather learn the secrets of ‘the one true pizza’ at the elbow of Jim in his smart new venture, Anello, in a converted library in Yorkshire’s Slaithwaite (pronounced Slow-it).

It’s all a far cry from the sensation back in 2005 when Giuseppe, a former LSE lecturer, took pizza back to its Neapolitan roots in the Afro-Caribbean enclave that was Brixton Market. Queues snaked around the block to get a slice of the authentic action. The key? A sourdough foundation naturally leavened for 24 hours under the watchful eye of baker friend Bridget Hugo. Ditto 10 years later in the new foodie frontier of Ancoats when Jim’s research pilgrimages to the pizza cafes off the Spaccanapoli finally paid off for him and pioneer partner Kate Wilson. Their shoestring project was named after their pet dog Rudy. Franco Manca’s monicker was equally quirky. Giuseppe took over the original 1986 business from one Franco, honouring him in perpetuity. ‘Manca’ in Italian means missing.

So does the pair’s purist pizza legacy linger on?

Franco Manca

It’s so easy to yell ‘sell-out’ or ‘pale shadow’ as a treasured one-off becomes ostensibly more corporate. Franco Manca, with three outlets in Manchester, certainly talks the talk still, emphasising the scrupulous attention to sourcing, the long proving (ie rising) of the dough in-house each day, even focusing the brief wine list on organic production.

I’d not been to the King Street branch before one gusty, wet Manchester lunchtime at odds with the searing inferno of the ‘Old Country’ currently. The welcome was as warm as the decor. Prices, even of specials on the boards, were eminently reasonable, one of the great selling points in London. 

Contrast with L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele (self-proclaimed world’s best pizza) 60 metres away across the Cross Street tramlines. I’ve not been back since it made its grand entrance 18 months ago, but the experience was odd – service wobbly, setting eye-numbingly neon and prices high (even though the pizza quality was decent). Da Michele had become a global brand, from the humble yet Instagrammable original in Naples that had inspired Jim Morgan in his quest.  Still it may have learned its lesson. I’ve just checked the latest menu and the cost of a Margherita that was then £9.95 has now been reduced to a fiver.

What does strike you immediately at Franco Manca is the menu avoids the classic  pizza names – Margherita, Marinara, Cappriciosa and the like. Instead they are numbered 1 to 10. It mirrors an eclectic attitude to provenance. The Pivetti organic 00 flour may hail from near Bologna, tomatoes from Campania and Salina supplies benchmark capers, but the MSC certified tuna and the anchovies are sourced from Cantabria in Northern Spain, while the mozzarella still comes from Somerset. Why? Because Giuseppe (the opposite of sloppy in his thinking) persuaded his friend Albino Scalzitti to move there from the southern Italian Apennines to ensure a fresher supply line. Somerset’s native Ogleshield and Montgomery’s Cheddar also feature on the same shopping list, but no English wines. In the trademark tumblers Italy rules.

Giuseppe’s main legacy remains the sourdough starter. Acquired from a Naples bakery, its wild yeast-driven magic dates back to the 18th century. In contrast we were there to road test the very latest pizzas on the Franco Manca menu. Hearty starters of beef ragù al forno with mozzarella and aubergine parmigiana were buttresses against that traitor of a summer day outside, but the pizzas were the going to be the acid test. They actually do one with a ragù topping, which is as wrong as pineapple.

We both chose pizzas without any tomato involved. Mine (No.10 for £10.95) had an undertow of wild broccoli pesto. Cime di rapa? Friarelli? Or Calabrese? I should have asked. On top of this came mozzarella and grana padano cheese with a substantial crumbling of fennel sausage. The latter was rather lovely but my on a whim extra topping of nduja was a bad idea. The famed base had that billowing chewiness I expected and liked, but as the cheese cooled it all felt a touch congealed.

Pizza No.9 across the table was the true triumph of the visit. a glorious £11.25 worth. Mozzarella, fresh basil, wild mushrooms and burrata all given an earthy kick by a truffle pesto base. Big flavours but a herby Sicilian Syrah held its own beautifully. Overall a fine experience. Fingers crossed this admirable brand has fallen into safe hands.

Franco Manca, 37-43 King St, Manchester M2 7AT. There are also branches in the city in Piccadilly Gardens and at the Trafford Centre. Open every day.


Slaithwaite has always meant dough to me over the past few years. The town’s Handmade Bakery has been a key foodie pioneer as a townscape of industrial dereliction has transformed into one of those Sunday Times’ Coolest Places To Live. You can commute in either direction to Leeds or Manchester, albeit subject to the unfit for purpose vagaries of Transpennine Express. For Jim Morgan, whose dad had ties with Handmade, it was a case of coming home. On our visit Kate was absent – on childcare duties. Otherwise, it all felt like Rudy’s 2023. With new strings to their bow on the way. As well as acquiring a talented chef, Tom McManus, from the sadly missed Moorcock across the hills they have also taken that gastropub’s epic outside grill.

They are setting this up a mile and half down the A62 at their mates Zapato Brewery, who provide Anello’s crisp house table beer, Pinto de Pico. Tom was away on holiday in Greece when we dropped into what feels almost like an Ancoats out-rider. You can feel his influence on a range of small plates that complement the Marinaras and Margheritas emerging from the truly serious pizza oven. Cue picture of a lad wielding long paddle.

As you’d expect they source leaves and veg from a local plot and the organic flour is from Shipton Mill, but tomatoes and fior di latte mozzarella are imported from Campania. Arancini was splendid but an £11 dish of porchetta disappointed, not least because the broad beans hadn’t been double-podded.

The pizzas? Marvellous. Not least because of that slow-raised dough. More echt Neapolitan than Franco Manca’s, softer and more digestible. The toppings were more traditional but then Anello, like the original Rudy’s, doesn’t aim to re-invent  the wheel. Just replicate the perfection of Old Naples.

Their pizza oven was built for them in that turbulent city – by the Acunto family, who have a history of making pizza ovens stretching back 125 years. According to Jim: “Once fired up to 450C, the pizza takes just 60 seconds to cook. This intensity and speed of cooking creates a wonderful freshness to the pizza with enticing aromas, flavourful charring and a tenderness to the dough unusual with other types of pizza.” 

Agreed. So to all those renegade purveyors of Roman, New York, Detroit, Chicago  and, abomination, Hawaiian Pizza there’s a Neapolitan expression especially for you: “Vafanapoli! (ps it’s very rude).

Anello, 8 Britannia Road, Slaithwaite, Huddersfield HD7 5HG, 01484 841720, Open Wednesday to Sunday.

It’s a glorious sweep down through the North Yorks Moors from Whitby to Hovingham. En route 30 odd miles of heather heaven in high season with the pastoral lushness of the Howardian Hills at the end of it. I just wonder if the legendary Captain Cook ever made the journey? We always associate the adopted Whitbian with seaborne expeditions to the furthest corners of the globe. Did he know this Tyke hinterland of ruined abbeys and fine local produce?

He was certainly familiar with tetragonia, the spinach/sorrel like leaves now on my plate at Mýse in bonny Hovingham. Back in the 18th century he enlisted what the Antipodeans also call warrigal greens or New Zealand spinach to ward off scurvy among his crew on the Endeavour’s long voyages.

There’s little chance of me contracting this disease of vitamin C deficiency over the course of Josh Overington’s beautifully balanced 10 course tasting menu, among the highlights of which is the Herdwick lamb ‘main’, where three tetragronia leaves are draped over Herdwick lamb, fillet and belly, cooked over coals and served with an anchovy-umami rich garum sauce on a base of pearl barley, tiny cubes of lamb tongue and addictive garlic capers. The tetragonia is tangy, slightly chewy, grown specially for Josh by a local farmer.

Such a dish is typical of Josh’s spanking new project. At the end of last year, after a decade in York, he and his sommelier wife Victoria sold up their acclaimed Cochon Aveugle restaurant and wine bar Cave du Cochon. Their new home is a restaurant with rooms in the former Malt Shovel opposite that most eccentric of 18th century Palladian big houses, Hovingham Hall (clue: its architectural focus is the stable block).

The makeover of the premises has been stylishly managed. What was a village local is now the crucible for the French-influenced ‘Bistronomie’ food that once had critics swooning, despite the no choice menu being served blind (Cochon Aveugle = Blind Pig). The big difference in Hovingham is you get a printed menu.

According to Josh in a newspaper preview the food focus has also shifted. “This is our chance to create something more ambitious and a reflection on our incredible Yorkshire surroundings. I grew up here and it has been home to Victoria for 10 years, so we wanted to create a welcoming, homely spot, each dish a nod to dinners that my Yorkshire grandmother would cook for me, but elevated and refined.”

Maybe that’s a culinary leap of faith along with naming the destination Mýse, apparently the Anglo Saxon term for ‘eating at table’ (pronounced meez). The word does translate as ‘table’, but I’ve dusted off my old copy of Sweet’s Anglo-Saxon Primer (revised edition 1970) and got no further. My bluestocking spouse suggests it might even be a Latinate derivative similar to mesa. Surely there’s also a play on the French term mise en place (everything chopped and measured out before cooking in a professional kitchen. None of this bothers me over much. With food this sublime they could call it Beowulf’s Magic Mead Hall and I wouldn’t fall on my sword.

So what did I eat there that sun-dazzled July noon time?

A trio of snacks – a postage stamp sized tranche of smoked eel dusted with bilberry powder poised on a cup of eel and apple broth; on a wooden spoon delicate shards of razor clam given rare oomph by a tangle of salted rhubarb and lightly pickled elderflower; ox cheek fried in Yorkshire pudding batter with fermented cucumber. I‘m sure granny would have loved the latter without knowing it might rate as a beignet. I saved some of the seeded sourdough to mop the juices of the next-up Orkney scallop. The temptation was to keep on smearing it with the proffered Ampersand Dairy cultured butter and chicken drippings. The fat hand-dived mollusc was a classic Overington dish, baked in the shell with a sea urchin butter for a sweet salty kick. A crumble of bottarga-style crisped coral enhanced this further.

Josh told me the broth for my line-caught cod had been created by simmering in-season senshyu onions with water for three days. The pearly North Sea fish itself was poached in aged beef fat, senshyu and lemon verbena. Then followed that lamb – Herdwick not Swaledale as predicted, but the perfect taste of the North following Josh’s brief.

My fave pudding of a trio was ‘day old bread’, which meant soaking yesterday’s brioche in vanilla custard then caramelising the edges, so it superficially resembles a fat fish finger. It came with a trio of preserves for messy dipping, the best of which was a little raspberry and rose number but honourable mentions for goat’s milk caramel and a ‘hidden’ hazelnut crème fraîche main image – serving for two). 

Simpler was a plate of four strawberries ‘dipped in their own jam’ with a citrus marigoldice cream. Then came a petit four like tab of linseed caramel that called for coffee and a tempting local cheese offering that I declined.

I also restricted my wine intake to two glasses because I was driving. A vinho verde and a Greek xinomavro. Such a shame when the wine list is heavily weighted towards Keeling & Andrew’s remarkable ‘Noble Rot’ roster.

The obligatory tasting menu costs £80 at lunchtime (wine pairing £65pp); £110 in the evening (wine pairing £85pp).

Wheat field ramble, Tristram Shandy, Tommy Banks’ new boozer

Poppies line the Ebor Way out of Hovingham. If I keep to the dusty footpath for an hour and more I’ll be sure to reach Oswaldkirk, the sign says, but the sun is relentless over the fields of wheat and broad beans, so after a brisk stretch walking off lunch I retreat to my car and drive 10 miles east to Coxwold and Shandy Hall. Cock and Bull Story (2005) was Michael Winterbottom’s appropriately absurd attempt to film the unfilmable – Laurence Sterne’s anarchic, baggy 18th century novel, Tristram Shandy. The groundbreaking novelist’s home lies at the top of the sloping village. Now a museum, Grade 1 listed Shandy Hall is open to the public at weekends, the two acre grounds most days, but not today (‘private function’). Instead I take a table and a Harrogate Water at the Fauconberg Arms in the centre of the one-road hamlet. An umbrella shields me from the sun as I bask in the charm of a place that almost defines unspoilt.

It’s the base camp for my exploration of another pub transformed by an accomplished chef. Back in 2017 Tommy Banks and Josh Overington were part of a trio of chefs representing the North East in the BBC’s Great British Menu. Tommy now holds Michelin starts at Roots in York and his flagship Black Swan at Oldstead three miles down the road from Coxwold. 

En route to the Swan you’ll come upon Byland Abbey. A ruin under the care of English Heritage, it’s hardly in the same league as Rievaulx up the road, but that fellow casualty of the Dissolution of the Monasteries doesn’t have an idyllic pub garden opposite where I’ve been served the finest beef burger I’ve ever tasted outside Hawksmoor.

Yes, Tommy has taken over the Abbey Inn – where as a lad he washed pots – and its menu follows the sustainable tenets of his restaurants. The Dexter chuck brisket and short rib for the patty is from the Banks family farm. Topped with bacon and chicory jam, oozing cheese, tomato and cucumber pickle, it is accompanied by beef fat fries (less impressive). It will cost you £21 from the garden menu or inside, even now at the steep end for a burger, but it’s worth it. The menus here are very much posh pub, not dedicated restaurant. Once a farmhouse built by the monks, it has been a hostelry since 1853 and is staying that way. At 70, the Abbey Inn has double the covers of Mýse; each, though offers three luxury rooms to stay over. Hard to resist ordering the extra Timothy Taylors or Xinomavro red or two and crashing. This is a wonderful corner of England.

Restaurant Mýse, Main Street, Hovingham, York, YO62 4LF.

The Abbey Inn at Byland, York, YO61 4BD.

I’m late to the party. Ever thus. Until the other week I dIdn’t realise that Graviéra, second most popular cheese in Greece after feta, could age for eight years or more. Jay Hickson, founder of Calder Cheese House just down the road from us and a mountain cheese expert, brought a chunk of this aged version back from his treks around Crete.

One Tyrokomeío Patsourákis had crafted this particular specimen on April 15 2015, using raw sheep’s milk from his flock. Jay described it as “bright and rich with honeyed caramel tones” and he was spot on. As a hard cheese it had probably once been buttery but now it was brittle and ultra-nutty. Nice to nibble with a glass of Belgian Trappist’s finest Westmalle Tripel, the rind end was a revelation grated into a dense minestrone. Reminiscent of old gruyere forming a crust of mega cheesiness on the surface of a soupe à l’oignon.

Alas, Calder Cheese House has now sold out of Graviéra Krítis but – shameless plug – the shop is an Aladdin’s cave of dairy-led wonders and considerably kinder on the pocket than La Fromagerie, which has three outlets in London – Highbury (cheese guru Patricia Michelson’s original shop which I first visited 30 years ago), Lamb’s Conduit Street and just off Marylebone High Street. 

It was into the latter that I popped en route to review Chet Sharma’s Bibi restaurant My target was the only American cheese they stock, one mentioned in Patricia’s encyclopaedic  but accessible Cheese (2010), subtitled ‘A journey through taste tradition and terroir’. I‘d assumed the creamery was in California, but couldn’t find it on my California Cheese Trail app (every home should have one) alongside folksy treats such as Bleeting Heart sheep’s and Pugs Leap goat.

It turns out that my other belated major discovery of 2023, Rogue River Blue, hails from Oregon and is a Big Cheese, as they say, and not just in those West Coast parts. in the 2019/20 World Cheese Awards, held in Bergamo, Italy, it was crowned World Champion Cheese, first American entry to ever take the prestigious global award. Not that it has been hiding its light under a bushel since its first release in 2003…

So what makes Rogue River Blue so exceptional?

You could argue the steep price – £63.60 for 500g – but it is the phenomenal care that goes into making it.. After being aged for eight months it then finishes maturing for a further six to eight months wrapped in Rogue Valley grape leaves (Syrah and Merlot, I believe) that have been macerated for a year in Clear Creek Pear Brandy, flagship spirit from one of America’s oldest artisan distilleries. When it emerges from the custom-built ageing caves this is no shrinking violet. Pit an Amarone against it to be on the safe side. My saison beer struggled to contain the densely creamy fudginess shot through with a sharp saltiness in the blue veins. I could swear the aftertaste was of smoky bacon, maybe even barley wine, too.

You might also come across Smokey Blue, the original Rogue recipe for the first blue cheese ever made on the US West Coast. This has traditionally been given a caramel nuttiness by being smoked for 16 hours over hazelnut shells. But staff at La Fromagerie warned me River Blue was definitely the way to go

It has obtained cult status, comparable to say Russian River’s Pliny The Elder in the American beer world. There’s huge hype around the annual release of the cheese, which  often coincides with the autumn equinox. Surely justified by the care that has gone into the production. Both the full fat milk from their own herds from the previous fall and the hand-picked vine leaves are organic and all that ageing is labour-intensive.

We wonder what French President Emmanuel Macron made of it in December 2022 when it was one of three American cheeses serve at a White House state dinner by Joe Biden. Did this devotee of Roquefort relish or resist this rogue element on the cheeseboard and proclaim: “Sacré bleu”?