All About Brie

somerset brie-228x228A soft cheese named after the French region from which it originated, Brie is a much loved classic, the most famous being Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun which both have protected designation of origin status however unlike its English contemporaries such as Farmhouse Cheddar and Stilton, the generic name Brie was not protected and is now used to describe any soft, bloomy rinded cheese. There are now many varieties available all over the world, a few are also made here in the South West and we’ve listed some of our favourites below.

Somerset Brie
Made by Lubborn Creamery in the lush valley of Cricket St Thomas, this brie is made to traditional methods, allowing it to soften and ripen from the outside in and develop its fresh creamy flavours and soft, edible white rind. Pasteurised and suitable for vegetarians this is one of our best selling Bries.

Sharpham2465
Hand made using unpasteurised Jersey cows milk on Sharpham Dairy in Totnes, South Devon this mould-ripened Coulommiers style cheese has unique rich, buttery flavours and a soft, creamy texture. It is matured for four weeks during which time it grows its edible bloomy rind and gradually ripens from chalky to soft and gooey.

Tim_Schofield_Photo_150520-83 (1)St Endellion
A decadent version of classic Cornish Brie the St Endellion is enriched with locally made double cream for a rich, full bodied flavour. Made by the team at Trevarrian Creamy near Newquay the texture softens as it ripens and the cheese develops its characteristic golden colour, soft pale rind and deliciously creamy interior.

Any of these Bries are a perfect addition to cheeseboards, their soft, creamy texture makes an interesting contrast to the hard cheese options. Sharpham in particular is great melted on roasted vegetables and the St Endellion makes a fantastic dessert cheese while the Somerset Brie is delicious baked in the oven with some rosemary. However you like your Brie try one of these and we promise you won’t be disappointed.

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Women & Cheesemaking

Women have traditionally always been involved in cheesemaking. Famers wives and daughters were passed down cheese recipes and would control the dairy, making the butter, milking the cows and making the cheese. These women have inspired a new generation of quality, artisan cheesemakers and in celebration of their achievements we have explored the history and lives of three of Devon’s own women cheesemakers and the excellent cheeses they produce.

Mary-Quicke-portrait-croppedv2-1024x848Mary Quicke is the 14th generation of the Quicke family working on Home Farm, Newton St Cyres. Managing the cheese business since 1987, Mary has become a leading voice on traditional cheese production and in 2017 launched the Academy of Cheese; a not for profit organisation promoting cheese knowledge for both the industry and the wider public. She has also applied her cheese expertise to judging at the World Cheese Awards, British Cheese Awards and the American Cheese Society Awards. It’s no surprise that her cheeses have been award winning themselves; Quicke’s Traditional Mature, a rich, complex cheese with flavours ranging from buttery caramel to sharp and grassy, won 2 stars at the Great Taste Awards earlier this year while Quicke’s Oak Smoked, a well balanced mature naturally smoked over oak chips for four hours, scooped Gold at this years Artisan Cheese Awards. A passion for creating beautiful cheeses and an undefinable link to the land her family have worked for generations makes Mary Quicke a woman to be reckoned with.

Curworthy Cheese was originally owned by Farmers Weekly, who were belstonepublishing a column on the everyday workings of dairy farming; on launch day Rachel Stephens was asked to help out as a ‘cheese cutter’. When it came time for the newspaper to sell the business, Rachel took a chance and moved the dairy to a purpose built creamery on her own farm a few miles away. For the first twenty years of production the milk used to make their cheeses came from their own herd, however it is now bought in ‘raw’ from local dairies and pasteurised themselves. As well as making the cheeses four days a week Rachel and the team also sell their cheese at various local markets and on a Tuesday this brings them to The Cheese Pantry, their small cheese shop in Hatherleigh market full of both their own cheeses and other locally made delights. A firm favourite of ours is their Devon Oke, made to a recipe dating back to the 17th century, it is mellow and creamy with buttery flavours and firm texture. In contrast to this classic recipe is the relatively new Dartmoor Chilli; made using Ring of Fire chillies from nearby DWKcraMW4AAeU-EDartmoor Chilli Farm and encased in distinctive red wax it has a slight mellow sweetness which is in contrast with the hot chillies. Cheesemaking can be a tough, physically demanding job, the cheeses are heavy and at Curworthy they are regularly turned to ensure even maturation, however it must be incredibly rewarding making and selling handmade cheese to the public. The cheese industry is full of interesting people and Rachel is certainly one of them.

Cornish Yarg was first made by Alan Grey in 1984, the story goes that he found the original 17th century recipe in an attic which was then sold and eventually ended up in the hands of Catherine Mead who formed Lynher Dairies, the sole producer ofcatherine-mead-in-maturing-store-1068x801 Cornish Yarg in the world. Today, Catherine leads one of the most successful artisan cheese producers in the world and not only that, she is also investing in the future of cheesemaking. She has designed an apprenticeship in cheese-making with Duchy College and is Chair of Jamie Oliver’s charity Fifteen Cornwall – a project aimed at developing understanding of raw ingredients, the science behind food and the importance of locally sourced produce. Her cheeses have been multi-award winning; the original Yarg won Gold at the 2017 World Cheese Awards while the Garlic version won Silver at this years British Cheese Awards. The fresh, creaminess of Yarg is complimented by the subtle mushroom flavours imparted 486-1from the nettle leaves wrapped around the cheese. These nettles are harvested in Cornwall by a team of gloved pickers before being rinsed and steamed ready to be used for wrapping. The Garlic Yarg is made to the same recipe as the original and it is the nettles that impact so significantly on the different flavours. The wild garlic leaves impart a gentle garlic flavour and provide a slightly firmer texture than the original. Catherine has built up a thriving business from a traditional recipe, her cheeses are now world renowned and she is involved in training the next generation of cheesemakers, ensuring that the artisan cheese industry continues to survive.

These three women have risen to the top of their field and all have had an impact on the cheese industry, from experimenting with new flavours and methods, deciding the big cheese winners and inspiring the next generation. Their own cheeses are superb and we hope they will continue to be made for years to come.

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Cheese Showcase: Curworthy Cheese

belstoneCurworthy Cheese has been made by Rachel Stephens on Stockbeare Farm for the last 25 years. Originally owned by the Farmers Weekly newspaper who were reporting on what dairy farming entailed Rachel was called in on launch day as a ‘cheese cutter’. When it came time for the newspaper to sell she saw an opportunity and moved the business to a purpose built creamery a few miles away to her own farm. Using milk from their own herd of Fresian cows, the cheeses are matured on site in a temperature controlled ripening room where the cheeses develop their natural rind with a light covering of mould. This small, family run dairy farm produces a variety of cheeses including their most popular Devon Oke and their newest cheese Dartmoor Chilli – made using chillies from nearby Dartmoor Chilli Farm.

Devon Oke
The sibling of traditional Curworthy cheese this recipe dates back to the 17th century and is believed to be even older than Cheddar. Taking its name from the nearby village of Okehampton this is a full fat hard cheese, matured for six months with mature, buttery flavours and creamy texture similar to Gouda. Curworthy Belstone is the vegetarian version made with vegetarian rennet.

Curworthy Chipple
Made using the traditional Curworthy recipe with the addition of fresh spring onions, this cheese is mellow and creamy with a fresh, supple texture. It is matured for up to six months and encased in attractive green wax at the final stage of maturation.

Dartmoor ChilliDartmoor Chilli
Again made to the traditional Curworthy recipe but with the addition of fresh Serenade and Ring of Fire chillies sourced from the nearby Dartmoor Chilli Farm, this cheese definitely packs a punch! Matured for only 6-8 weeks a mellow, slightly sweet cheese is the perfect base for the addition of spice. It is encased in red wax and is also available in a red wax heart for those special occasions such as a cheese wedding cake topper.

Other Curworthy cheeses include Curworthy Black Wax, Devon Smoake, Curworthy Meldon, Curworthy Belstone and Curworthy Chipple. Visit our website to discover more of these delicious artisan cheeses.

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New Products from Devonshire Tea!

cbNothing is more calming after a full, stressful week than a hot cup of tea, sitting back in your favourite armchair and feeling your troubles melt away, perhaps with a slice of cake. Devonshire Tea is a small, independent company based in Axminster producing classic teas which are custom blended to their own recipes. We will be stocking their products from September and couldn’t resist telling you about them now.

In what can often be an overcrowded, fast moving market with constant re-imagining of exotic new flavours, Devonshire Tea’s ethos is good, simple classic teas blended to exceptional standards. At the moment they have four bespoke blends of high grade tea from India which are blended and packed in Devon.

devonshire_tea_earl_grey_packClassic Breakfast is their flagship blend and brings together a bold Assam from India and a golden Ceylon from Sri Lanka for a perfectly balanced blend with superb depth of flavour.
Earl Grey is a fragrant blend of the same Assam and golden Ceylon but with the addition of delicately scented Bergamot.
Delightful Afternoon is a speciality blend of bold Assam from North East India and delicate Darjeeling from the Himalayan foothills resulting in a subtle, light and refreshing tea.
Single-origin Assam is a bold, full-bodied tea sourced from the region of North-East India from which it takes its name.

teabags

All of their teas are sourced from ethical estates monitored by the Ethical Tea Partnership which protects both workers and the environment and in order to protect the environment further their teabags are also “stitched” rather than heat sealed. The impact of single use plastics has been widely reported recently and to reduce their own footprint, Devonshire Tea took on a different approach to sealing their teabags. The glue which is used by the majority of companies to seal them is made from a thermoplastic such as PVC or polypropylene which, although safe to consume, prevents the teabag from decomposing properly. In contrast Devonshire Tea fold the teabag paper and uses string to “stitch” it closed and attach the string.

All of their teas will be available in individual cartons and cases of six cartons for the retail sector, and cases of 200 for food service and catering. Check out their products on our website for more info!

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Cheese Showcase: Barber’s Farmhouse Cheesemakers

d456f295511931ec07bf34f4b07bf333Established in 1833 Barber’s is one of the oldest surviving cheddar makers in the world. Based on the same Maryland Farm for the last two centuries, they are proud to keep traditional cheesemaking practices alive using the finest Somerset milk from their own herd of 2500 cows. They are one of a handful of farms awarded Protection Designation of Origin status which certifies that the cheese they make is produced using locally sourced milk, traditional cheesemaking techniques and matured for at least nine months.

1833 Vintage Reserve
Named for the year in which Barbers Cheesemakers was established this cheddar has a powerful, complex flavour and a smooth, creamy texture with occasional crunch due to the formation of natural calcium lactate crystals. Only the best cheeses are graded highly enough to be matured for the full 24 months and emerge as this vintage 1833.

Red LeicesterARB_WEB_700x700px_RedLeicester_AW_grande
Milk quotas from the 1950’s to 1990’s meant that dairy farmers no longer needed to produce cheese to make ends meet and this resulted in the mass closure of small farmhouse dairies. Barbers were able to survive by shifting from cheddar to Caerphilly production and later on to double Gloucester and this red Leicester. A slightly sweet, mellow cheese this is matured for around four months with the addition of annatto which provides its distinct red colour.

Haystack Tasty
Developed using a new starter culture used to control the cheese ripening process, this cheese is strong and well rounded in flavour with a slightly crumbly texture. It is matured for up to 12 months to fully develop its distinct, rich flavours and is a firm favourite with us!

Barbers also produce the traditional mellow, mature and vintage cheddars as well as double Gloucester, Caerphilly and Cheshire cheeses. All are available in both bulk catering blocks and pre-packed sizes to suit your requirements. Call to order yours today!

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Award Winning Products!

totw_awards_2018_0-1-1024x1024As the International Cheese Awards kick off today and continues tomorrow, we’ve been thinking about the many awards our products and their producers have won over the years. From the South West based Taste of the West to the British Cheese Awards and even international accolades we are so lucky to have some of the best food the UK has to offer right here on our doorstep!

Waterhouse Fayre have been winners at the annual Taste of the West Awards for a number of years. Their signature strawberry jam has been a double Gold award winner and this year their blackcurrant and raspberry jams both won Silver, while their new turmeric and Somerset cider & apple chutneys both showcased with Gold. Ann Stallard turmericestablished Waterhouse Fayre back in 2004 and since then the company has grown and morphed into a recognisable Devon brand. Her intriguing mix of flavours and balance of new and traditional means that there is always something new to discover.

Lynher Dairies has been a regular face at cheese awards up and down the country and this year their Cornish Yarg won Gold at the British Cheese Awards and the Wild Garlic variety won Silver. New for this year was their Cornish Kern which was internationally recognised at the World Cheese Awards being named Supreme Champion. Based in Ponsanooth, Cornwall this small artisan dairy is one of the most successful of its kind in the country.

Chunk-pasties-sqChunk of Devon are also no stranger to awards with over 100 going to their pies, pasties and savories – in 2009 their Steak pasty even won Best Cornish Pasty at the British Pie Awards! From Taste of the West alone this year they won Gold for their Venison & Port pie, Steak pasty, Homity pie, Chicken, Mushroom & Tarragon pie and Squealer Pork pie. Their melt in the mouth, buttery pastry and use of locally sourced ingredients wherever possible ensures a great Devonian product. This year they have also launched a vegan friendly pasty made using wholemeal flour and a pea glaze with delicious roasted vegetables, there is something for everyone to enjoy!

Cornish Olive Stall olives have become bestsellers since we started stocking themBasil last year. A small, family run business based in St Austell they have sourced the best olives from around the world and combined them with delicious homemade marinades to create mouth-wateringly good flavours. The judges at this years Taste of the West certainly thought so with the Garlic & Rosemary winning Gold and Basil Pesto olives winning Silver awards respectively. With so many great flavours available and even simple Pitted Green for you to experiment on your own, these olives are certainly worthy of their awards!

The vast number of awards going to these local producers is testament to their hard work, dedication and passion. Congratulations to you all!

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History of Cheddar

Next to Stilton, Cheddar is one of the UK’s favourite cheeses with a history dating Cheeses_stored_at_Wookey_Hole_Cavesback to the 12th century and King Henry II and Daniel Defoe among its high profile supporters; the former claiming it to be the best in Britain and the latter dedicating a whole chapter to this famous cheese in his book ‘A Tour of the Islands of Great Britain’.

Originating in Somerset and taking its name from the village of Cheddar and Cheddar Gorge where it was once matured within the natural caves, this cheese is as popular today as ever. However today Cheddar is no longer only made in Somerset but all over the world resulting in a cheese that varies considerably in texture, flavour and appearance.

In 1996 Westcountry Farmhouse Cheddar was given Protected Designation of Origin status, meaning that it could only be made in the counties of Somerset, Queso-Cheddar-1 (2)Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. It must also be made to traditional methods such as ‘cheddaring’ where the whey is drained and the curds are stacked together, this is repeated and when matured the cheese will have a dense, crumbly texture. It must be made using locally sourced milk from the makers own farm and should be matured for at least nine months. These strict rules ensure that traditional farmhouse Cheddar remains just that.

During, and for some time after World War II the production of most cheeses was banned by the government due to shortages and rationing. One cheese, nicknamed ‘Government Cheddar’ was permitted, a standardised, bland and tasteless cheese but made in vast quantities to preserve milk. The effect of this was not realised until rationing was lifted in 1954, 3,400 cheese producers had shut down and it was thought that the art of making cheeses had been lost. Luckily for us this was not the case and artisan cheesemakers started to spring Image009up around the country, creating cheddars that reflected the land, the season and the passion of their makers.

We stock a wide range of Cheddar cheeses including Barbers Farmhouse, Taw Valley and Quicke’s Traditional. Try some today and fall in love with cheddar again.

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Our Favourite Summer Cheeses

The sun is out and summer is finally here! What better time to enjoy some fresh, summer cheeses out in the garden than on these warm, light evenings? We’ve listed a few of our favourites below.

rosemary-honey-drizzled-fetaOur first choice is a staple of summer, Feta is strong and rich in salty flavours and will instantly transport you to a sun drenched beachside taverna. Protected Designation of Origin means Feta can only be produced in Greece and is believed to have originated from nomadic tribes who needed to preserve the milk of their goats and sheep. Drizzle with a little olive oil and pair with some olives and sundried tomatoes or honey and fresh rosemary for instant summer feels.

We know the blues are normally winter domain but this Cornish Blue from the Cornish Cheese Co. is a delicious exception. Made on the edge of Bodmin MoorMail-chimp-Cornish-Blue-Cheese-Xmas-image using locally sourced milk this is vastly different from traditional blue cheeses. Mild and creamy with a gentle sweetness, it is designed to be eaten young and is perfect with honey, almonds and fresh crusty bread.

We think the new Quicke’s Traditional Elderflower cheddar is a real summer treat. Matured for up to six months by expert cheesemakers in Newton St Cyres, Devon, this is a fresh, buttery cheddar with delicate hints of elderflower. Try it with some good quality biscuits or crackers and a crisp white and you’ll be in summer heaven.

A soft cheese alternative is the Le Roule from the Vosges region of France which laroule_EvZI1PYis made using pasteurised cows milk and easily recognisable because of its distinctive herb swirl. Fresh and creamy garlic and herb flavours and a smooth texture make this a deliciously light summer treat. Best enjoyed spread on fresh, crusty bread or even as a savory breakfast.

Treat yourself this summer and enjoy the delights of these light, fresh cheeses.

 

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New Branded Pre-Packs!

Barber's Group ShotWe are delighted to announce that we are introducing a new range of branded pre-packs from Barber’s Cheese (Maryland) and Quicke’s of Devon from mid July. While we already stock both of these producers as both bulk and pre-packs we feel that the new branded packs will really stand out on your shelves and increase sales. These packs will be fixed weight and priced per block with branded labels, they will also not be price marked which will allow you to set your own prices.

Barber’s have been producing their award winning cheeses on Maryland Farm since 1833. Using traditional techniques and the finest West Country milk their skilled cheesemakers produce delicious farmhouse cheeses which are full of flavour and texture. Cheeses range from their Vintage Reserve, matured for 24 months with rich, complex flavours to Mellow, a creamy, smooth and buttery cheese and everything in between.

The Quicke’s have also been producing traditional Cheddars for over 500 years, QuickesGroupcombining the best West Country produce with time honoured techniques and the knowledge of their expert cheesemakers. Their cheeses are traditionally cloth bound and given varying maturation periods with the longest, the Vintage maturing for up to two years to fully develop its full bodied, intensely creamy, caramel flavours.

We will also be introducing some pre-packed flavoured cheeses from Ford Farm, another West Country Farmhouse cheesemaker established forty years ago and using recipes dating back over 600 years. Their traditional cave aged Wookey Hole Cheddar has received many accolades and has a distinctive earthy flavour due to being coastal-cheddarmatured deep underground at the Wookey Hole Caves. Other cheeses included in this range are the Dorset Red – an oak smoked cheese, Double Gloucester with Chives and Onion and new to us the Coastal Cheddar – matured for at least 15 months with a distinctive crunch due to naturally forming calcium lactate crystals.

These branded pre-packs will be available from mid July so watch this space for more details!

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New Flavoured Sausages!

Established more than forty years ago W.F. Chinn are producers of high quality burgers and sausages made in Crediton, Devon. Building on the legacy of founder Mr Chinn owners Tony & Rose Palmer are continually developing new and exciting flavours using 100% British meat.

Popular flavours include their honeyroast pork sausages with a deliciously sweet twist, traditional cumberland sausages, pork and red onion and chorizo sausages. This month also sees the introduction of their smoked maple and chilli sausages as their flavour of the month. Rich and smoky these are perfect char-grilled on the bbq or enjoyed oven baked with peppers, onion, garlic and spices. The slight sweetness from the maple is complimented by the smokiness and hint of chilli. Why not try some for yourself?

Chinn’s also produce their own burgers including pork & apple and succulent beef burgers made using 100% British meat and available in packs of four. In short, they have all the meat you’ll need for your next bbq!

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