Saturday 5 July 2014

The Mouse Trap, Ramsbottom

The Mouse Trap, Ramsbottom
Imagine the scene... Boxing Day 2013; a day where most normal folk are suffering from a major dose of over-indulgence, and others are even considering whether they may have developed gout. What was I doing? Messaging a cheese shop about their tasting evening! It's just not normal, is it? The demand for places at The Mouse Trap's cheese and wine evenings is so high, that the next available Friday was at the end of March. We were willing to wait.

Our friend Kev had heard about it through a friend at work, and was dying to go. Cue some fool getting a new job and having a leaving party on the same night as said cheese and wine evening. I was not a popular individual! The next available night was 4th July. I calculate that as being roughly a six month wait. It was worth it.

The Mouse Trap is situated on the main road running through Ramsbottom, just a couple of doors down from the First Chop pub. For such a tiny town, Ramsbottom boasts some of the best food lovers destinations in the North West. Sanmini's, The Chocolate Cafe, Ramsons, Hearth of the Ram, The Eagle and Child, and now Levanter are all but a stone's throw away. Do you see why we love it?
The Mouse Trap, Ramsbottom
It's only a tiny place, much like many of the other establishments on Bolton Street. The shop is packed with mouse related memorabilia, chutneys, home baked goods, and an absolute shedload of cheese. We were greeted by a friendly couple, who offered us a seat by the window, took our wine to chill and then promptly poured us a glass. They don't usually serve alcohol, so guests are encouraged to bring their own, with corkage being included in the £9.95 per head tariff. We took a nice Prosecco. 

There were thirty six cheeses on the standard menu, plus a further four specials. Choosing from this epic list was a nightmare, but it was suggested that rather than do the standard five per couple, that we just share the ten between us. 
The Mouse Trap, Ramsbottom - Menu
Your platter also comes with a decent range of accompaniments, all of which are refillable at no extra cost:
  • Butter
  • Apple and sultana chutney
  • Tomato and balsamic chutney
  • Black olives
  • Fruit loaf
  • Wholemeal seeded loaf
  • Cheese crackers
  • Fruit and seed crackers
  • Herb crackers
  • Crisp-breads
  • Water crackers
  • Red and green grapes
We went for:
  1. Isle of Mull - very firm with a tongue tingling flavour. Perfect on the seeded bread with either of the chutneys.
  2. Flamin Eck - a jalapeno infused creamy cheddar with sun dried tomatoes. A subtle warmth at first and then boom! Those chillies have quite a kick.
  3. Comte - a beautiful hard French cheese that has a slight sting on your gums. I like this cheese sensation... 
  4. Wensleydale and Cranberries - one of my favourites from the evening. Very creamy with a subtle flavour and plenty of fruit. 
  5. Oakwood Smoked - A lovely rich cheese with a subtle smoky flavour. Great with the tomato and balsamic chutney. 
  6. Lancashire Bowland - more like a dessert than a cheese. This was creamy yet crumbly with plenty of plump fruit and cinnamon. It was matched perfectly with the fruit bread and apple chutney. 
  7. Camembert Rustique - a real gloppy little number with a smooth texture. I love a cheese that's trying to run off the plate. 
  8. Brie de Meaux - pungent yet strangely inoffensive at the same time. I often find Brie a little underwhelming, but the strong flavours in this smelly little article won me over.
  9. St Agur - reportedly the 'best blue cheese to come out of France'. I'm not a huge fan of blue cheeses, but this was creamy, delicate and all kinds of wonderful. Nice spread on the fruit and seed crackers. 
  10. Blacksticks Goats Cheese - this was from the specials. I sometimes find goats cheeses too powerful, but this one was much more subtle. 
The Mouse Trap, RamsbottomThe Mouse Trap, Ramsbottom
The Mouse Trap, Ramsbottom
The Mouse Trap, Ramsbottom
Kev getting cocky with the Flamin Eck and Paddy proving that you can take
the boy out of Horwich, but you can't stop him mixing the cheeses...
The Mouse Trap, Ramsbottom
As you can see, we did a pretty stirling job of polishing off that cheese. I think we even ended up eating the rest of the grapes before it was taken away! While most mere mortals had a coffee after their cheese, I decided a massive hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows was in order. It's about addressing that all important sweet/savoury balance.
The Mouse Trap, Ramsbottom
I think you all need to experience The Mouse Trap. Their selection of cheese is fantastic, and the people running it were just delightful.You don't have to wait months to book onto a tasting evening as they are open during the day as a normal cafe, or you can simply buy cheese to take home where no-one can see how much of a pig you are...

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