Global Cheese Awards

We had a wonderful day at The Frome Cheese Show on Saturday. It’s called Frome Cheese Show for a reason; the Global Cheese Awards are held there each year for which The Cheese Pavilion housed over 1500 cheese entries.  Apart from the competition cheese, there was lots of cheese for sale too including a cheese bar!

New for 2017 was a music stage and artisan food stalls. Live music all day was a real bonus, the highlight of which was of course THE WURZELS who never fail to entertain in their characteristic West Country style! It was great fun.

Our big news was winning THREE SILVER MEDALS for our authentic cheddar cheese.

Extra Mature (our Vintage), Medium Farmhouse Cheddar, and for the first time this year we entered the Vegetarian Cheddar Category, and won Silver for all three!

11 Delicious Somerset Cheeses

More delights from Somerset to promote here, this time it’s delicious Somerset cheese! All are local cheese but only two are traditional cheddars! We have tried 10 of the 11 on the list and can endorse their quality and depth or delicacy of flavour.

We really do produce some superb British Cheeses in the the UK,  Somerset in particular (many of which could give the French and Italians a run for their money these days!).

Do try them if you get the chance.

Read the full article with the list of Somerset cheeses  HERE.

A Guide to Food Festivals in Somerset

Hideaways (www.hideaways.co.uk) has just published a comprehensive guide to food festivals in Somerset. Our thanks to Dawn Stephens-Borg from Accord Marketing for including us in this lovely guide. A fantastic read for foodies who would like to explore the variety of food this wonderful county produces and where best to sample them.

Click HERE to read the Guide.

Salsa Annual Audit

We had a long day today; we received our annual SALSA (Safe and Local Supplier Approval) accreditation inspection. It was carried out by, arguably, the most knowledgeable raw milk cheese microbiologist in the Country. In addition, he had requested to bring along a Senior Cheese Technologist from Sainsbury’s, who was interested in observing how the SALSA scheme worked.

The SALSA Scheme is wonderful! It’s a professional, well managed and recognised thorough scheme. Small batch, small company, particularly artisan food producers can rarely meet ‘large company’ sophistication. So the SALSA Scheme takes this into account, acknowledging that small batch production does not necessarily mean poorer quality. Approval demonstrates that a detailed inspection of the food producer has taken place by a qualified assessor, that all legal requirements have been adhered to, and most importantly, that the food produced is deemed safe for consumption.

The audit lasted 9 hours, and in today’s heat it was all rather stressful. The natural perspiration from the heat, we were convinced, made us look extra nervous, which …..therefore ….made us extra nervous!

We readily agreed to the Sainsbury’s accompaniment but then some colleagues wondered whether this would be even more stressful? Would our auditor be extra picky? Would the Sainsbury’s Technologist dig deep into our IT efficiencies? (“they may be more used to dealing with large production set ups, large scale computer controlled production lines…… possibly with super duper clever magic eyes and robots monitoring the processes 24 hours a day?” we pondered.

We needn’t have worried, all went well and the lovely Technologist  from Sainsbury’s was a joy have here! The nice thing about SALSA, we feel, is that the auditor is as much a mentor as an inspector. We are allowed to challenge questions for relevance to our business and encouraged to demonstrate compliance to the Standard, in our own experienced way. In addition we can seek advice and recommendations for further improvements.

However much we prepared for the audit, we were definitely tested (to the limit!) to demonstrate that we produce a good quality, safe cheese.

Here are a few excerpts from the report:

‘An established family business with a senior management team that has excellent knowledge of the cheesemaking industry’

‘throughout the company, there was good technical knowledge and comprehension of cheesemaking principles’

‘production staff were well trained’

‘good standards of hygiene were evident in all food-handling areas’

If anyone would like to know more about our audit or have a copy of our audit report, please get in touch.

A long day, yet well worth it.

Champion Cheese Maker: FACT!

We are so proud of our Production Supervisor and Senior Cheese Maker, Shaun.

Yesterday we won ‘Champion’ at the Devon County Show for a cheese which Shaun made. Not only did it win First Prize in its category, but it was first overall, scoring 48 points out of a maximum of 50. We are over the moon about this. Well done Shaun.

Hand made traditional cheese making is a labour of love. Our Cheese Makers receive the milk into our Dairy every morning, and undergo a 7 to 8 hour transformation responsibility which is not only a physical slog, but the concentration and attention to detail to control time, temperature and critical controls (both physical and chemical) is exhausting. As those in the cheese industry know, it takes a certain kind of person to make cheese and as our SALSA Quality Auditor remarked about Shaun during our last inspection “He was born to be a cheese maker”.

Making the cheese is the first day of its life, we then press it, dress it and mature some of our traditional cheeses for up to 2 years. The care involved has paid off well and truly.

Of course it’s a team effort as our other Cheese Makers Sam and Will would have contributed to the care throughout its life in our maturing stores, but it was Shaun who ‘gave birth’ to this beauty – he is now a CHAMPION Cheese Maker and we are very proud indeed.

 

Eat Cheddar, Live Longer?

There was an interesting article in the Daily Telegraph recently entitled ‘Eat Cheddar, live longer? The 5 surprising health benefits of cheese’. Read the full report HERE.

Of course we are going to support and promote such publications, but this article is particularly interesting.

There’s a nice introduction on ‘How to taste cheese like a master’ – forget the MASTER bit. Just read the simple advice about tasting cheese… look at it, feel it, smell it, chew slooooowly! These tips sound obvious, but if you take your time over selecting cheese, conscious of these snippets of advice along the way, you will get so much more from your cheese – whatever varieties you prefer.

There seems to be a wealth of research recently about the heath benefits of cheese in general (in addition to the pleasure it gives). Arguably milk will always be the best food for a mammal. But we truly believe the protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamin, bacterial and mineral mix in milk really does provide optimum dietary requirements. OK, so human milk will be the best, but the composition of cow, sheep & goat’s milk too will be close.

The article makes lots of references to scientific research in relation to consumption of cheese and the related benefits to the immune system, increased metabolism and reduced coronary heart disease,  but one bit jumps out; French people tend to live ‘longer and healthier’ lives compared to many Europeans. Which is odd when they, as a nation, consume diets high in saturated fats (‘The French Paradox’). Considering they are huge consumers of cheese, why haven’t they had the same historic obesity concerns as us?

We really don’t think this is a case of believing this research because we want to believe it.

It just makes sense.