Sometimes the name alone is enough to make you want to try a cheese. This one sounds like a Tory MP but looks far more delicate and refined. Another cheese from the Alex James Presents range (sorry, Liam and Noel), courtesy of Pong Cheese, it really is one of the prettiest dairy products I’ve ever seen.
Farleigh Wallop is a pasteurised, semi-soft goat’s cheese. Like Goddess, that I posted about last week, it’s made as a collaboration between James and the folk at White Lake Cheeses in Somerset.
James began his cheese-making journey back in 2006, after buying a farm in Oxfordshire on his honeymoon and moving out of London to start a family and ease his way out of a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. He is quick to acknowledge the irony of how he now somewhat lives the life of the mocked man in Blur’s hit ‘Country House’, who leaves the city to live ‘in a house, a very big house in the country.’ He’s also canny about one of the key markets for his cheese – the very people who once came to his gigs:
‘People who used to buy Blur records don’t buy records anymore. They buy cheese. They’ve moved on. They don’t want to listen to The Arctic Monkeys, they want some Stichelton.’
In collaboration with Juliet Harbutt, a neighbour, food writer and cheese aficionado, James approached White Lake Cheeses to make their first cheese, Little Wallop, a goat’s cheese washed in cider brandy and wrapped in vine leaves. Other cheeses followed, including Blue Monday (rather obviously, a blue cheese) and washed rind Goddess. He also courted cheese controversy in 2011 by launching a range of flavoured cheeses with Asda, which featured salad cream, tomato ketchup and chicken tikka.
As a flavour-added cheese, Farleigh Wallop is on more traditional ground. Britain has a long history of adding herbs to cheese: wood sorrel, myrtle, mint, parsley, tarragon, sage and basil are all on record as being used. Farleigh Wallop is rolled in a thin layer of thyme leaves which, as well as looking attractive against the white of the cheese, also adds a herbal flavour.
As a goat’s cheese, it’s somewhere in the middle; not too aggressive but with a slight goaty sharpness amongst its creamy texture, which tends to runny beneath the rind. But it’s the thyme that makes it for me, mixing with the mushroom and goat of the cheese. A great eating cheese but, because of the herbs, endless cooking potential too.
Disclosure: I was sent Farleigh Wallop by Pong Cheese for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own.