Troglodytes and Turophiles (or, a Tale of Cave-dwellers and Cheese-lovers)

Wookey Hole Cheddar

Many myths abound about the origins of Cheddar and why the world-famous cheese took its name from a small village in Somerset. One is that a milkmaid left a pail of milk in the Cheddar Gorge caves for safety and when she returned found that it had turned into a delicious cheese. Another tale features some monks on a pilgrimage to nearby Glastonbury, a thunderstorm and some similarly transformative milk. Whilst anyone who has ever left milk in the fridge and gone on holiday for a fortnight will view such tales with scepticism, there’s no doubt that the cheese does take its name from the village of Cheddar which lies at the foot of the famous caverns. And, if you go down to the caves today, albeit the nearby Wookey Hole caverns, you’ll once more find some cheese.
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Fromage Friday: Caws Llain and Lancych Mature

Well, no-one can say that I didn’t get my cheese-worth from my recent ramble around West Wales. Following last week’s Visit to Caws Teifi and the previous post about Y-Fenni, I am back this week with a double bill of Welsh cheesiness from the Caws Cenarth cheesemakers. My eldest son and I visited the farm and watched the cheesemakers in action from the purpose-built viewing room. It’s a great way to see the process, although I felt a bit sorry for them – what if they fancy talking to themselves or scratching their bottom? We chose today’s cheese through the simple process of: we’ll taste everything we can get our hands on in the farm shop and then you can choose one to buy and I’ll choose one. Caws Llain (top picture) is my choice and Lancych Mature (bottom) is my offspring’s:

Caws Llain Caws Cenarth

Lancych Mature

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A Visit to Caws Teifi

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I was a bit nervous as I drove down the winding lanes that lead to Glynhynod Farm in Ceredigion, West Wales. John Savage-Onstwedder, the maker of Teifi cheese (in Welsh: Caws Teifi, the former to rhyme with ‘mouse’ and the latter pronounced ‘Tie-vee’) is known as ‘the Godfather of Welsh artisan cheese’ and makes the most highly-awarded cow’s milk cheese in Britain. He’s cheese royalty, if you like.

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Fromage Friday: Y-Fenni

Eek, it’s been quite a while since my last post but, in my defence, I have been on some intrepid cheese travels, exploring the beautiful coast and valleys of West Wales and eating rather a lot of local cheese along the way. More of that soon but first I bring you Y-Fenni, a little number I picked up in a deli in the pastel-pretty seaside village of Aberaeron:

y-fenni cheese

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Fromage Friday: The Duke and Duchess

This week’s cheeses (yes, it’s a rare double-bill this week!) have had me thinking about what sort of cheese I’d like to be immortalised as. It’s a tricky one. Much as I adore blue cheese, its main characteristics are mould and stinkiness, which I’m not sure I’d like to be summed up by. Ditto smear-ripened cheese which is a bit of a smelly joke. Perhaps a farmhouse cheddar? But then that just brings up words like ‘earthy’ and ‘robust’ which would make me sound like a used tractor. Hmmmm… Anyway, republicans look away as this week I bring you The Duke and Duchess:

duke of cambridge cheese duchess of cambridge cheese
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Fromage Friday: Celtic Promise

One of the lovely things about writing about British produce is that you get to learn about new areas of the British Isles which sound rather appealing. And so it is that we’ll be spending half the Easter holidays in west Wales, partly because it sounds like a peaceful idyll full of pristine beaches and rivers packed with jumping fish and partly because it’s been described as ‘the Loire of Welsh cheesemaking’. And whereas some cheesemakers (somewhat understandably) say on their website ‘don’t come and visit us, we’re too busy making cheese’, these Welsh cheesemakers are all like: ‘Please come and visit us – we’d love to see you!’ and ‘Drop by, see us in action and taste our cheese!’ Well, don’t mind if I do…but first this week’s suitably Welsh cheese:

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Potato, Celeriac, Pear and Nuns of Caen Bake

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You know you’re advancing in years when a) you get excited by the thought of buying a mandolin (the chopping, not the Captain Corelli variety) and b) you then get enraged because it turns out it doesn’t slice thinly enough for your liking. So, all ideas of conning my children by making vegetable crisps out of the window, I was left pondering what to do with my new toy so that I didn’t hurl it against a wall. As fate would have it, I was also pondering what to do with the remains of last week’s Nuns of Caen that the kinds folks at The Cheese Market had given to me in abundance. This recipe is therefore the coming together of some too-thickly-sliced vegetables, a luscious cheese washed in perry and – it only seemed fitting – some pears. It was eaten with pork chops, also cooked in perry with shallots and sage.
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Fromage Friday: Nuns of Caen

As part of last Friday’s goat’s cheese paean in honour of Chinese New Year I promised you a ewe’s milk cheese to redress the balance for those who thought we were now entering the Year of the Sheep instead. And, as fate would have it, the lovely folks at online artisan cheese emporium The Cheese Market very kindly sent me a very delicious example of the type indeed. So here, in all its gooey orange loveliness, is Nuns of Caen:

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Sourdough Pizza with Salami and Paddy’s Milestone

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I am fascinated by natural yeasts and like to grow a sourdough starter in my kitchen. It was given to me by an Italian friend who got it from her in-laws in Italy who got it from a bakery. So it feels a bit like a pedigree pet, one of those long-haired hamsters or something that needs food and attention or it starts to smell. The problem is that if it was a hamster I’d be in big trouble with the rodent obesity protection league as I feed it far too much and end up with a giant Kilner full of starter:

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Fromage Friday: Saint George

Okay, so it’s not Friday yet. But it is Chinese New Year today and so when I skim-read somewhere that we were entering the Year of the Goat it seemed like the perfect opportunity to present you with a goat’s cheese this week. But then things got complicated when I read this article. The celebrated animal in question derives from the Mandarin Chinese character ‘yang’ which means simply ‘horned animal’. So whilst some people interpret this as ‘goat’ others are in the ‘sheep’ or ‘ram’ camp. When I used to work for a farming organisation we sometimes used the term ‘shoats’ when we wanted to talk about a mixed herd of sheep and goats. That would solve everything. Except for the fact that I really don’t have time to track down a British mixed milk sheep and goat’s cheese, if such a thing even exists. So you’re getting goat’s this week and that’s that. Without further ado, here is Saint George:

Saint George goat's cheese
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