Bread and cheese. Two of my favourite food stuffs, with me being an unashamed food snob when it comes to decent bread. In fact, I think you can often judge how good a restaurant is likely to be based on the quality of bread they serve.
The idea of the evening was simple, Emma from GAIL's and Rhuaridh from Paxton & Whitfield talked us through the various breads and cheeses they had picked for us and then we had to decide which combinations were our favourites.
A serious task and one I wanted to do a thorough job with, so (in the interests of research) I ate about a kilo of cheese and a couple of loafs!
The two cheese platters to choose from.
Most of the breads were varieties of sourdough and varied from a couple of simple types to ones with fruit/veg in. Emma explained all the loaves are baked fresh everyday and are hand kneaded by their bakers.
I thought the milder cheeses such as the delicious, creamy Cerney goats cheese and the St Felicien worked best on the plainer sourdough, while the more pungent cheeses such as the Gorgonzola Dulce and Highland Blue went well with the fruit bread such as the currant & cherry and apricot & hazlenut sourdoughs.
The thin, crunchy, seeded crackers provided a good alternative to the bread and went with most of the cheeses.
As usual, my favourite cheese was a Comte, though this was a bit younger (about 6 months old) and not as strongly flavoured as others I have had.
We were given a potato and rosemary loaf and an olive sourdough to take home and try and these were possibly my two favourite breads overall.
The potato and rosemary was excellent toasted with lashings of melted butter (I've had about five slices over the weekend!) and the olive sourdough was packed with big, juicy black and green olives that gave it bags of flavour.
The bread at GAIL's isn't cheap at £2.25-£2.99 per loaf, but the quality can't be faulted. It would be ideal if you are looking to impress for a dinner party or just want to treat yourself to something a bit special and a class above most other breads.