Lydia and Beverley from our Delicatessen were lucky enough to embark on a ‘Cheese Tour’ last month. Together with Neal’s Yard Dairy’s Jamie Hall (National Account Manager), they visited a series of some of the world’s best cheesemakers in Devon. Here’s their diary:
Wednesday, 3rd May
4pm: We took the opportunity to leave the farm a little early and piled into the car ready for a 5 hour journey to deepest Devon.
9pm: We arrived at a beautiful B&B in Cadbury where we settled for the evening preparing ourselves for an early start and a fun filled day of learning about, making (and most importantly, tasting) cheese!
Thursday, 4th May
7am: We enjoyed a hearty full English breakfast at the B&B which deserves a mention – it was fantastic!
9am: Our first stop was Moorhayes Farm in Wincanton, the home of Keen’s Cheddar. Here we watched the cheesemakers cut the milk in the vat before they separated the curds and whey.
10am: George Keen treated us to a very informative tour of the farm. We saw their fascinating maturing rooms and met the grass fed cows. They are milked in a slightly different way to usual; by machine. The cows walk into the machine when they wish and the machine automatically milks them, or doesn’t if they are not milk-ready!
11am: It was time to head to Jamie Montgomery’s farm. We were so impressed with the huge amount of Montgomery Cheddars, of various ages, maturing in the barn. We tried a few cheeses which would be heading to Neal’s Yard Dairy in Bermondsey, London, very soon. They were absolutely delicious!
midday: Then we went over to Westcombe Cheddar where owner Tom took us for a tour around his newly built maturation caves. They had a very complex cooling and humidity control system as well as a new turning machine, called Tina Turner! It’s a huge robotic machine which carefully picks up the cheeses, turns and brushes them before placing them back on the shelf.
1pm: We watched the curds being cut and the drainage of the whey – it’s all done by hand! This is very intense and such hard work. All the cheesemakers are so passionate about the cheese. It’s amazing how one small issue can alter the flavour such as the cows being stressed or a change in their diet or even a minor alteration in cheddaring process.
2pm: We enjoyed an amazing lunch prepared by Tom’s parents – this also deserves a mention! Quiche, soup, ham, bread, salad and not forgetting homemade brownies. Delicious! What a wonderful end to the tour!
Huge thanks to everyone we met during our visit and especially to Jamie from Neal’s Yard Dairy. We had a fantastic day and came home full of food and information!
Lydia & Beverley x