When I received an invite to attend a milk tasting event with the UK’s first Milk Sommelier Doug Wood of Graham’s Family Dairy, I was intrigued! Even more intriguing was that it was being hosted in a private room in Bedales Wine Bar in Borough Market. So basically wine tasting but with milk. With a picture like this attached to the invite, how could I have turned it down! Photo credit: Rob McDougall.
I had so many questions though… would there be food? Would we just be sloshing milk around a glass, swirling it around our mouth and spitting it into a milk bucket? Doesn’t all milk taste the same?
Upon arriving, I could tell immediately that this was going to be a classy affair. The private room was decorated beautifully with buckets of milk chilling on ice. The tables were set almost like a wedding, with place holders, bottles of milk chilling in wine coolers and a menu.
When I opened the menu, I was delighted! The milk was being paired with food courses and they sounded absolutely delicious. Before starting on the milk tasting, we heard from Robert Graham of Graham’s, The Family Dairy, whose family have been dairy farmers for three generations in Bridge of Allan, Scotland. Graham then introduced Doug, their charismatic (and very dapper) Milk Sommelier, who had just flown back from the Burning Man Festival. They are real-life friends and have a wicked sense of humour. It was really interesting hearing their story and how it came to be that Doug is Graham’s Milk Sommelier.
On to the tasting
The first tasting was the semi-skimmed milk paired with Longhorn beef tartare on a potato crisp. Doug talked us though the tasting notes, which was light but full of flavour with grass notes and a slightly sweet taste. I have to say the beef tartare was phenomenal and it did work really well with the milk.
The second milk we tried was the Gold Top paired with tarragon chicken roulade on brioche toast. The milk was rich, creamy with a fruit undertone (according to Doug) and is naturally sweet. I really liked the milk and it worked well with the chicken. Again, delicious!
The third milk tasting was the organic whole milk with cream at the top paired with braised oxtail croquetas. The croquetas had a really spicy dipping sauce with it and were sublime! The organic whole milk really cut through the spice and was a great pairing. Seriously, I could have devoured the entire plate. Doug’s tasting notes describe hints of panna cotta, white chocolate and a hint of grass.
The fourth milk was Gold Smooth, which is velvety with depths of vanilla and toasted nuts. This was paired with a poached pear and preserved lemon tarte tatin. When a milk has hints of vanilla and nuts, it makes complete sense to pair it with a dessert.
The last tasting was the organic semi-skimmed with cream at the top, which was rich, sweet and had hints of oaty biscuits and almond – according to Doug. So naturally it had to be paired with chocolate and almond biscotti. The biscotti were very good – not too hard, just right and the semi-skimmed was really creamy and was more like a whole milk.
I thoroughly enjoyed the milk tasting. Even though I only have milk in my coffee and cereal, this event opened my eyes to how food really can be paired with milk. I’m hardly a milk connoisseur – I doubt even now I could pick up hints of grass or ‘oaty biscuit’ but that will surely come with practice. Perhaps worth remembering for Dry January!