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 and Lancych Mature are both hard, cow’s milk cheeses made from pasteurised, organic cow’s milk by the Caws Cenarth dairy in West Wales – just up the river in fact from Caws Teifi (and so close that asking directions for one can nearly result in you ending up at the other but that’s another story). Caws Cenarth are a family business and have been making cheese for nearly thirty years. Gwynfor and Thelma Adams had lived at Glyneithinog Farm since the 1960s but when the EU milk quotas took effect in the mid eighties they decided to turn some of their surplus milk into cheese rather than tip it down the drain. Both came from families with a long tradition of making cheese and, in particular, farmhouse Caerfilli and before long, production outgrew the kitchen table. Thelma is credited with being one of the pioneers of the new wave of Welsh farmhouse cheese-making and the family are the oldest established producer of Welsh farmhouse Caerfilli. The business is now run by their son Carwyn who is the brains behind diversifying their cheese range to include the Brie-type Perl Wen and the blue Perl Las.
Caws Llain is a new cheese for the family and at the moment is only available from the farm shop (where great wheels of it can be seen maturing in the adjacent room). It’s an Alpine-style hard cheese made using milk from their neighbour’s herd of Montbeliarde cows at Llainrhydwen Farm – hence the name Llain. It’s matured for up to two years and has the texture of a mature Gouda – it crumbles into shards beneath your knife and is peppered with crunchy tyrosine crystals. It’s sweet but with a pleasant tang and, strangely, what tasted to me as a hint of lanolin, although clearly it has been nowhere near a sheep. The Cheese Chap’s blog described it as having ‘an almost Bovril like finish – pure umami’ and so I ate a bit more to check and, yes, it’s definitely there.
Lancych Mature is a hard cheese, aged for up to six months, which is described as ‘a cross between Parmesan and Cheddar.’ The cheese was launched in 2014 to celebrate the family’s long tradition of making traditional Welsh farmhouse cheese. The recipe has been handed down through the family from Carwyn’s great-great grandmother Elizabeth Benyon who, in 1893, graduated from Aberystwyth University with a Diploma in butter and cheese making. Her certificate still hangs at Caws Cenarth today. Lancych is a cheese with an punch. The lady in the shop was flabbergasted that Son the Elder chose it as his favourite, due to its strength of flavour. It’s sweet and nutty but there is also a strong earthy taste of cows and barns and farmyards. It was a little strong for me which means that now I have been officially out-cheesed by my six year-old.