Dukes 92 Manchester
While my blog may suggest otherwise, I did not grow up doing a whole lot of travelling. As a matter of fact, I didn’t have a passport until I was 30. My first trip outside of the US was to Budapest, Hungary, in 2001. What changed me was meeting Mme Fromage, who’s been travelling internationally since she was 5.
When I did start travelling, though, I did it with a vengeance. I was fortunately to be able to travel a lot for work, which allowed me to build up a bank of frequent flyer miles. One place I regularly visited was Manchester, England. I’ve got some good friends there and I always enjoy a visit.
Manchester is one of the most—if not the most—forward-thinking and diverse cities in the UK and is known worldwide for its industrial and cultural contributions. It’s not surprising then that you can find all sorts of food and drink, much of which is natural and locally-sourced. Moreover, the North West of England (Lancashire, specifically, just to the north and west of Manchester) has a cheese history that dates to the 12th century.
The weather was surprisingly gorgeous for my last visit and I had a great late lunch with friends at Dukes 92, a huge bar and restaurant along the canal in the historic Castlefield area. Apart from its drinks, Dukes has been been known for its artisanal meats and cheeses that diners can order in various portions as part of a “sharing board”.
I’ll confess I didn’t do a lot of sharing.
The presentation was very attractive, with my four cheeses surrounded by crunchy nicely-pickled vegetables and two salads and a variety of bread. I didn’t waste my team with any of the meats, although the potted duck looked tempting. I chose four of the cheeses:
The Yellisons Goat's Cheese from West Yorkshire (north and east from Manchester), was fresh and tangy. I enjoyed the taste of the poppy seeds it was rolled in.
The Garstang White, a cow’s milk cheese from Lancashire (north and west of Manchester) was a blooming rind cheese like Brie that appeared to be nicely aged but didn’t have a ton of flavor.
The smoked cow’s cheese was tangy with a hint of oak smoke and the soft texture of a young gouda.
The star of the plate for me was the Drunken Burt. This is a cow’s cheese from pasteurized milk which the folks from Burt’s Dairy in Cheshire typically make as a blue. The “drunken” version is at it sounds: the same fundamental ingredient but with a rind that’s washed with cider that’s been aged in oak barrels. The initial bite is sharp like a blue but the cheese finishes smooth and well-balanced with a hint of smoke and fruit from the cider. The flavor is stunning. I really enjoyed this.