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Sunday, 10 January 2016

Ted learns Welsh

ca stori i'w dweud popeth wrthych am caws … a cheese I just discovered … a cheese called Caerphilly.  It is named after the town in which it was first made in south Wales and was to be found in every coal miners lunch box because not only did it taste good, but it also helped to replace a lot of the salt they had lost through sweating in heavy manual labour at the coal face.

It’s an old cheese and one that almost died out like so many farmhouse cheeses in the face of large scale industrialised cheese making slurping up all the milk supplies in the 1950’s. Caerphilly was particularly susceptible to industrial takeover as it matures much faster than Cheddar and that made it a perfect contender for a fast cash flow product. Industrially produced Caerphilly was by and large a pretty poor and dry, tasteless, and chalk-like imitation of the original, and not surprisingly most folks went off it pretty quickly and it just slowly and quietly slipped away into obscurity heading for extinction.

Enter the Trethowan’s in 1996 - Todd and his wife Kim, joined later by his brother Maugan. While not Welsh they did have a Welsh grandmother and she had made the traditional Caerphilly many years ago, hence they knew about it and set about bringing back the style of a much more mature and creamier cheese. They set up their dairy at Gorwydd (Gor-with) Farm in Wales and pretty soon where winning awards hand over fist. Caerphilly can be designated as a “territorial” cheese and about 10% of cheeses in the UK are in this category today. No it doesn’t mean that they push all other cheeses off their shelf in the market (although that would put a different spin on the so called “cheese wars” wouldn't it) rather that they are associated with a certain district or place of origin - like "terroir" if you will.

As soon as I saw the Gorwydd Farm cheeses and their awards I knew it had to be good stuff so I bought a wedge from their stall in good old Borough Market. You can probably see from the main photograph that there are 3 distinct layers to the cheese. The centre which has a slight tensile texture and a fresh taste with a hint of lemon. The layer next to the rind is all creamy and buttery, eat a slice including the rind and you get a delicious earthiness to complete the picture.

The Trethowan’s have now moved their dairy to the “West Country” in the UK but their Caerphilly remains every bit as good as the Welsh original.

7 comments:

Gunn said...

Interesting posting. I do like English cheeses, but over here it is so expensive, and we do not have that many. TED seems to have something special and very tasty every weekend. Lucky him :-)

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

If Ted's getting into welsh cheeses then try some Y Fenni, which is blended with mustard and ale, or St Illtyd which has herbs and garlic.

Dave said...

Da iawn.

Sharon Anck said...

Sounds delicious. I'd love to give it a try.

William Kendall said...

I have no idea if it would be around here.

Geoff Wilkinson said...

A fascinating read as always, I'll be hunting down that cheese to see if I can get it locally....

Jack said...

Ted, your lesson about this Welsh cheese was both informative and a fun read. The Doll introduces you to some wonderful foods!

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