Virtual Cheese Awards 2021

2nd place for our Traditional Vintage Cheddar!

One of the very many things to suffer during the pandemic were the UK annual Cheese Awards.

These are usually held as part of the quintessentially British agricultural shows such as The Bath and West Show or the Frome Cheese Show. We’ve missed these wonderful events which showcase the best of the best of British Food, Livestock, Produce and Craft.

The Virtual Cheese Awards

These were launched in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic to promote and celebrate the fantastic British cheese industry in their time of great need. In 2020 the Virtual Cheese Awards were the only ones to take place. 

Although the 2020 Awards were organised very quickly, it still attracted over 300 entries and helped raise awareness of some fantastic British cheeses and the people who make them. All the profits from the event were donated to support cheesemakers and farming charities.

Manufacturers and consumers alike loved the modern format that allowed them watch the judging live and get instant feedback.

The Virtual Cheese Awards 2021 – they’ve been held again this year!

We are delighted to have won  SECOND place in the Traditional Vintage Cheddar Class!

Thank you to Nigel Barden who has been the supreme organiser of the Virtual Cheese awards, ably supported by a gang of esteemed cheesys! The judges were all experts in the cheese world and if you were lucky enough to watch the judging ‘live’ on May 7th this year, the assessment of each cheese was mesmerising to watch. Apart from taste, their judging included: appearance, aroma, texture and whether the cheese was true to type. It was wonderful! All winners were truly deserved.

Congratulations to Feltham Farm’s La Fresca Margarita who was the overall winner of Best of British Cheese (for the second year running!). An amazing achievement.

British Cheese Weekender

(If you missed our session on this year’s British Cheese Weekender,
you can watch it again HERE)

We were very excited to be involved!

Launched last year in response to the crisis facing the country’s specialist cheesemakers when the Pandemic struck, the British Cheese Weekender returned this year with three days of free online cheese events aimed at celebrating and supporting this fragile sector. Be transported around the country, from fields and farms to dairies and maturing rooms, as well as cheesemongers’ counters and the kitchens of top chefs. Many of the sessions can be watched again.

Have a look at the programme of events HERE

Each day, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 3.30pm there was a super line-up of 30 minute talks, demonstrations, interviews, wine and cheese pairings – the list was endless!

The programme of talks and speakers is now live on the What’s On page on the British Cheese Weekender Website   organised so well by Tracey Colley and Patrick McGuigan. They have included lots of information on the best places to buy cheese and any related offers. What a line up! There were chef demos from Tommy Banks, Simon Rogan, Mark Hix & James Golding, farm and dairy tours, cheese masterclasses from experts and even cheese pairings with wines and whisky.

John and Katherine from The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company had their own Saturday night slot and were chatting about their unique cheddar cheese (8.30pm on Saturday April 24th). Click on the link below to whizz to their event.

So what’s so special about The Only Cheddar Made in Cheddar?

Watch our short film HERE  to find out!

A visit from Rosanna Head

We had the privileged of meeting Rosanna Head from South East London Blog ( last October. Rosanna is passionate about ‘Community’ not only in her native SE London, but further afield (when permitted to explore!).

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members, a heart of grace and a soul generated by love.” Coretta Scott King.

The quote above appears on Rosanna’s website which is a lovely reminder about the the value of support and kindness in our communities which, these days, has never been more important.

Here’s Rosanna’s report…

Weekend trip to Cheddar to visit Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company

The reason for the visit was to meet the couple behind the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, a family run business in Cheddar. As the editor of south east London blog I am passionate about local, small and artisan businesses and as many of you know, I like to get under the skin of a brand and meet the people who make the magic happen. I was delighted to be invited to interview John and Katherine Spencer, a passionate pair with a lot of knowledge in the time honoured tradition of purveying fine genuine farmhouse cheddar cheese, and proud owners of a cheese shop that has been continuously family run for generations.

The Cheddar Cheese Gorge Company is the only producer of cheddar cheese in the village of Cheddar, who use traditional methods to make cheese. They recently opened up the visitor centre post Covid-19, by appointment only, and the newly designed shop and tasting bar is open and has an improved one-way layout. It’s open from 10am every day and we were really lucky to watch the traditional cheese making process in person and get to taste some cheddar.

We held the interview in one of the store houses, a little chilly, but enamoured to be among the big cheeses that day (excuse the pun!) We talk about how this home grown company has gone from strength to strength, even through Covid-19, how the cheese gets produced and graded, the power of the humid limestone caves in Cheddar Gorge in creating the optimal flavour of cheddar and their plans for the future, oh, and a slightly cheesy love story about how they met 🙂

Rosanna Head, Editor Interviews John and Katherine Spencer, Cheddar Cheese Gorge Company.

The Cheddar

The cheese they produce, a whole cheese, as you can see in the background of the video, weighs around 26Kg and is matured for up to 24 months in its closely monitored maturing stores. Generally, the older the cheese, the stronger the flavour. The ‘mellow’ cheddars are around six months old. The oldest, ‘vintage’ cheddar is usually around two years old.

After receiving outstanding feedback and popularity for the ‘Isolation Bundles’ during the UK lockdown, the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company is launching two brand-new ‘Cheese Your Own’ bundles (from £25) for all cheese lovers. A great choice of traditional British cheeses are available, all very different from one another, yet each delicious in their own right. Choose from:

  • Mellow Cheddar – six months old; creamy in texture with a gentle yet still distinctive traditional cheddar taste.
  • Extra Mature – is around 15 months old so this cheddar is much stronger in taste. It’s harder in texture too, as expected from a long-matured traditional cheddar.
  • Vintage – the oldest cheddar – robust and mighty strong. Matured for more than two years, with a harder, drier texture not dissimilar to Italian Parmesan style cheese. This was my favourite!
  • Cave Matured Cheddar is one of a kind – it’s around 12 months old having been matured in the natural caves in Cheddar Gorge. Smooth, creamy yet complex. This in an interesting cheddar and very different from the others in the range which are matured in its own cheese stores.

Alternatively, you can pick from their natural smoked or other flavoured cheeses, flavoured with quality ingredients such as herbs, cider or port (no preservatives or colours used) and matured for five to six months. Allowing the curds and flavours to mature together over time produces a complimentary harmony of flavours rather than a sharp, acidic crash which often happens when ready-to-eat cheddar cheese is blended with flavours and repressed.

You can purchase these bundles whilst visiting the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company’s newly redesigned shop, as well as trying the cheeses at the tasting bar before you choose. Also, whilst there, customers can enjoy its visitor centre which combines a viewing gallery where visitors can watch the cheesemaker ‘in action’ throughout the day plus get a glimpse into one of its Maturing Stores too. A 20-minute film also shows the whole process from start to finish. It’s a great day out for kids and the whole family.

To purchase the ‘Cheese Your Own’ Bundles online for a swift home delivery, please visit https://www.cheddaronline.co.uk/ . To book a visit to watch them make their famous cheese, call 01934 742810 during office hours.

For daily updates & cheese inspiration, follow The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company on social media: Twitter @CheddarCheeseCo, Instagram @cheddargorgecheeseco and Facebook @cheddargorgecheesecompany.

Awards

‘Best Cheddar’ at the British Cheese Awards in 2013 and the ‘Champion Cheese’ at the Devon County Show in 2017, in 2018 they won another Gold at The British Cheese Awards and The Great British Food Awards 2019 selected The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company’s Vintage cheddar as being Highly Commended by, none-other, Marcus Wearing!

Getting There

Cheddar is about 3.5 hours from south east London, a nice drive and a great spot to get away for the weekend.


The Surrounding Area

Cheddar Gorge – Walking routes – Visit National Trust for walks and more info.

Ebbor Gorge – Walking routes, great views of Cheddar and Glastonbury Tor – this is the walk we did. It took about three hours, moderate and up hill a good part of the way. The views at the top were well worth the hike. Find out more on the walk we did here at Discovering Britain.

Glastonbury Town – 20 minutes drive from Cheddar, we didn’t visit this time but plan to return again soon.

Wells Historic Town and Cathedral – A quaint little market town with cathedral and palace gardens. A splattering of lovely boutique shops and cafes, the square is a great spot to watch the world go by. We enjoyed coffee and a delicious cinnamon swirl in Loaf Bakehouse. A funky relaxing space, where the bake the cakes on site – delicious!

Wookey Hole – we stayed in a basic hotel here. This village is aimed to cater mostly for families with children, with a couple of pubs and places to eat and some tourist attractions guaranteed to while away the day with the kids. Check out the Wookey Hole Caves and more here.

For more info on the area why not check out the Visit Somerset website, jam packed with info and ideas.

 

Signs of Spring Love and Welsh Rarebit – James Martin Style!

Happy 2021!

Lockdown number 3 arrived and whilst unlike LD1 the days may feel short, dark, and cold, there are still many ways to brighten up these times! Here are a few of our favourite uplifting thoughts to get you through these difficult times …

1. The snowdrops are out; Spring is on it’s way.
2.  10 million people in the UK have had their first COVID vaccination.
3.  Unlike LD1, this time we’ve continued to produce our cheese.
4.  We are preparing for the reopening of our Shop and Visitor Centre in Cheddar – hopefully this Spring/Summer. And we cannot wait to welcome you all back.
5. We have a special Welsh Rarebit Recipe for the perfect LOCKDOWN LUNCH – James Martin style!

 

Click here for the full story

 

 

A Tasty Slice of English Heritage

The Smart Leisure Guide

Vivien Devlin  member of the British Guild of Travel Writers

 

Vivien is a beautiful writer of SMART leisure guides. Extremely thorough in her research you can be certain of an honest opinion with accurate recommendations. We are then extremely proud to have been scrutinised by Vivien and delighted to be included in her ‘Smart Guide’  – she has magically produced an article which is both interesting, historical and enticing! If only we had her talent.

Why is hers a SMART Leisure Guide?

She plans to offer fabulous, fun and unusual ideas to liven up weekends and time off from work: smart as in a wise move such as good value; smart as in sassy and stylish;  smart as in being good to yourself, keeping fit and healthy; smart as in art and culture.

Through her regular blogs, she recommends hotels, restaurants, bars and pubs, art galleries, beauty salons and spas,  city walks, countryside rambles,  shares her love of books,  theatre, music,  along with little titbits on what to do and where to go in your leisure time.

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows…”

―William Henry Davies

So, with that thought in mind, read on.. CLICK HERE

 

Cheese Glorious Cheese!

 

Here’s our latest news update. Read on to to discover our latest team news, our Christmas gift ideas plus a spooky Halloween biscuit recipe.

As half term ends and the nights draw in things quieten down in Cheddar Gorge. Our shop will remain open every day from 10am but will close at 4pm from November 1st. Our Visitor Centre will close then too but this area will be invaluable extra space for us to pack up and dispatch our online orders. In addition to making our shop COVID safe this year we have changed the staff working and relaxing areas to ensure we can all keep a safe distance from each other too.

Read our newsletter?  CLICK HERE 

Enjoy!

The Ultimate Cheese Board

We were honoured to be asked to supply some of our cheese to Binita Shah, the award winning Food, Travel & Wildlife Conservation writer.

Binny knows her stuff! A serial wanderluster (her own words) she is a vastly experienced traveller and explorer of world cultures and food. She is one of those gentle souls who thinks deeply about things, and we were lucky enough to have met her a few years ago when she visited us in Cheddar.

Her travels have taken her around the globe where she likes nothing more than to taste the local food and drinks. She catalogues her travels in detail reporting her experiences in her unique way – always a pleasure to read. Her travels have been limited recently, for obvious reasons and so she has been working on other things, drawing on her experiences and recommendations – pre pandemic.

In preparation for Christmas she has just written about her ULTIMATE CHEESE board which features our cheddar! And we couldn’t be more proud.

Click on the image below to read about Binny’s cheeseboard and to find out more about her, her travels and beautiful writing.

My Ultimate Cheese Board

 

 

Our Story – Instagram Live

We were honoured to be invited by Ruth Macyntyre to feature on her special Instagram Live session on Wednesday June 17th 2020!

Ruth runs a wonderful business called Ruth’s Little Kitchen which not only runs live cookery lessons from her own kitchen at home, but also champions and supports local producers – especially traditional cheesemakers! Many of us have been devastated by the Coronavirus Pandemic – like so many businesses over the past 3 months.

We’ve never done anything like this before and have been heartened by the response to this little film. She asked us to tell our story, give a little tour of our site including our Dairy, Maturing Store and our Shop! It was terrifying but fun and can’t thank Ruth enough for featuring us.

Here’s the link to the film: Watch it here 

And please do have a look at Ruth’s Little Kitchen  – she is a lovely lady who’s enthusiasm is infectious!

Thank you Ruth.