Alex James on maturing from rock music

“There was a point where I had to tell my band, I was going to be making cheese from now on”

Not your normal rockstar anecdote, but then this was not a normal occasion. We were sat in Number 38 Cheltenham, a cheese roll away from the bustle of the literature festival, at a dinner hosted by Alex James.

As well as the promise of a chorus of cheese, there were several coffee-infused dishes throughout the meal courtesy of our host Nespresso. The highlight, local fallow venison loin, caramelizes beetroot, and horseradish was not overpowered with the coffee-infused jus, just bringing it a mellow earthy tone. Against the odds, it worked. Much like James’ foray into farming.

The ex-Blur bassist then talked us through the selection of cheese and how he went “full handbrake turn from music studio to foodio”, swapping beats for beets, redefining himself around his love of cheese. It was on his honeymoon that a delapidated farm in The Cotswolds was purchased: “it was actually what I needed at that point in my life, it was a complete lifestyle handbrake turn. Living on a farm takes away all existential angst because there’s always so many things to do, you’re kind of involved in this thing that you live that’s got so much forward momentum, but it’s incredibly rewarding.

“Whenever you find anything that you really love, that is incredibly important and rare actually, it doesn’t happen very often in your life, but it’s guaranteed to happen. There comes a point where you have to kind of commit to the thing that you love and it’s more or less guaranteed to make you look ridiculous, so there was a point when I had to tell my mum I was leaving college because I was in this brilliant band and she said, ‘don’t be ridiculous’ and there was a point where I had to tell my band I was l going to be making cheese from now on and they said ‘don’t be ridiculous!’ so it doesn’t matter; doing what you love is always going to make you look ridiculous in some peoples eyes but you just have to show them.”

The evening was presented by Nespresso, with elements of the meal accompanied by coffees from the new

Nespresso Vertuo