Parmesan shortbread biscuits

Konditor and Cook’s upscale version of the mini cheddar

“You know mini cheddars?” Kirsten at Konditor and Cook grins broadly. “Well, these are a bit like that, but posher. Cheesier”—and better, she almost, but not quite goes so far as saying. It’s hardly necessary.

One need only pick up a packet of these small, sun-shaped rounds, smiling warmly through the pretty cellophane, their butteriness beckoning, to know these will be a significant improvement on the luminous orange pub snack. There are no agents and extracts here: just “wheat flour, parmesan cheese, chilli powder, butter and salt,” says the ingredients label simply. That’s it.

Real parmesan
The parmesan really is parmesan, or parmigiano reggiano, as Kristen’s Italian colleague Barbara points out. “It is a protected designation origin (PDO) cheese.” It comes from northern Italy and nowhere else, and is made in the same way it has been for hundreds of years.

“We don’t have the shortbread in Italy, but we do have very, very crisp bread, with sliced parmesan on top, which we have with drinks before dinner”—the hallowed Italian tradition of aperitivo, which is precisely how Barbara recommends having these.

Sunlit piazzas
“They are really good served with olives and dry prosecco in the evenings,” she trails off, dreaming of Italy’s warm sunlit piazzas. Summer warmth has yet to arrive here, alas, but the longer days mean sitting outside, glass stem in one hand, parmesan shortbread in the other, is an option provided you’ve dressed up warm.

Besides, these are shortbread, made in the rich, Scottish style: they can cope with a nip in the air. They are crumbly. They are classy. There is a time and place for mini cheddars of course, but a spring evening in the garden with a quality glass of prosecco from Cartwright Brothers is the right time and place for these.