Friday, February 08, 2008

7 February 2008: Scones

The picture above is not a fake, it is not Photoshopped in any way and neither does it date from a time prior to our move to the USA. It is - exactly - what it looks to be. It is a home-made scone covered with peach jam and topped with clotted cream, and the photo was taken last night, deep in the heart of Texas.

This will come as something of a shock to those of you who are (1) fans of clotted cream and (2) familiar with the way things are on this side of the Atlantic. I mean, it was sometimes hard to find clotted cream when I lived in London (I shopped at the big Safeway on Holloway Road so I guess it was my own fault to a degree), and knowing the requirements for making it, I thought there was no way whatsoever that there would be even a sniff of it over here.

For starters, you can't readily get Jersey milk. Those little shaggy brown cows aren't as popular over here as the Brangus moo-moos we were out feeding last week on the ranch, and even in the specialist shops that sell a wider variety of dairy products, your milk choice is restricted to full-fat milk (that's the blue-label one at Tesco), 2% milk (roughly equivalent to semi-skimmed, which tends to top out at 1.7%), low-fat milk and no-fat milk (skimmed), along with other products such as buttermilk and chocolate milk. The cream section contains whipping cream and, if you're very lucky, 'heavy whipping cream'. No gold top in sight, and certainly nothing approaching the stuff Langage farm outputs with such glorious regularity.

But yesterday, as we continued our quest to map out the land here and discover what you can and can't get, and what is reasonably enough priced that you can get it regularly, we visited Central Market. This is a small chain of large supermarkets run by H.E.B. (who also run more normal supermarkets), as we had been told this was the best (possibly only) place in Fort Worth to buy lamb. We indeed found lamb there, but also enjoyed looking round at the Lyle's Golden Syrup, Yorkshire Tea, Patak's curry products and the now-customary large range of Root Beer varieties. There was also a pleasing-to-the-eye selection of butter (step forward Lurpak and Kerrygold) and a cheese section featuring a bewildering array of cheeses from all over the world, including Wiltshire.

And there, in the corner of the cheese section (why the cheese section?) was a small basket containing a number of jars, half of which were marked "English Luxury Double Cream" and the other half marked "English Luxury Clotted Cream". To say we did a double-take would be to understate the point: we spent a good five minutes looking away and looking back, just to make sure. And what was more interesting was the brand name: "The Devon Cream Company". No, I hadn't heard of them either. In fact they're not from Devon at all - but they were from England, and over here that's just as good. What was more interesting, though, was the 'Best Before' date stamped over the front of the small glass jar.

"BBE NOV 08", in case you can't quite read the print in the photo.

Normally clotted cream will last a month at a push if you buy it at the right time. But November 08? That's when they're having the election over here (I'm sick of it already). That's months away. And how long since it was made, chilled and transported here anyway?

Answer: it's not *quite* normal clotted cream. It's clotted cream's equivalent of UHT. When we realised this, spirits sank a little. But only a little. It was still worth buying, still worth transporting home in an ice box, still worth making scones and scooping it out in Blaine-sized portions (you know what I'm talking about, Blaine) over the top and when I took a bite, mildly fearful it would taste like UHT milk...

Nope. It was nice. It was very nice indeed. And we'll be going back again to get more.

1 comment:

Jason Balaska said...

What does it taste like?