A new cheese made to a traditional recipe is being rolled out by a Welsh centre of excellence.
The Caerphilly cheese by Bodnant Welsh Food Centre has already cut itself a wedge of the honours by crumbling the opposition in two major shows.
The artisan cheese has been snapped up by visitors to Bodnant’s farm shop in the Conwy Valley, and now it’s going on sale online across the UK.
Foodies will also be to sample the cheese’s crumbly tangy taste at Bodnant’s stand at the Gwledd Conwy Feast in October.
Aled Rowland, Bodnant’s resident artisan cheesemaker, whose experience has been matured over two decades in the dairy industry, is the man responsible for producing the new super-star Caerphilly.
He said: “It’s made from a traditional recipe and, in fact, Bodnant is only one of just a handful using it in Wales.
“The key ingredient and a secret of its success is the very best quality milk.
“We use only one milk source, the Friesian dairy herd at Tal y Cafn Ucha Farm, which is just half a mile away from Bodnant.
“We get the fresh milk delivered from there two or three times a week and use it to produce about five wheels of Caerphilly per batch.
“The wheels weigh in at three kilos each and are covered in a natural rind.
“Lots of cheeses are covered in a cheesecloth but we allow our Caerphilly to develop a wonderful ivory coloured rind.”
Bodnant Welsh Food Centre Chris Morton managing director said: “This is another successful story for our on-site dairy. We started 2015 by launching a smoked cheese, our Abermwg, so launching this new Caerphilly is a great way to end the year.
“Feedback from our customers who have been sampling the cheese has been very positive and so we are now going into full production.
“We’ve got more innovations in the coming months, so we will be keeping the dairy very busy.”
Samples of the Caerphilly was in a board of Bodnant cheeses – along with Aberwen, Abergoch and Abermwg – which took a gold medal at the Royal Welsh Show.
It went on to win a bronze medal at the International Cheese Show in Nantwich, Cheshire – the only Welsh artisan producer in the top three.
Dairy manager Debbie Leviseur said: “The Caerphilly is the latest cheese to come from our own dairy and we’re delighted with the reception it’s getting from everyone.
“Ever since we introduced it it’s been a big hit in the farm shop at Bodnant, with customers saying they recognise it as a traditional-tasting cheese taste from years ago.
“It is eaten at a young age, anything from four weeks old. It’s white, firm textured and crumbly and, while it comes from the same cheese family as Lancashire, its flavour is unique to Bodnant.
“Like all our cheeses, it’s also suitable for vegetarians.
“We have taken it along to food festivals, such as Beaumaris in September, and it’s had a great reception. We’ll next be featuring our Caerphilly at the Conwy Feast food festival on October 24 and 25 and expecting more good things there.
“Apart from in our farm shop, the Caerphilly is also available to buy online and is featured in our new Cheese Club, which offers a different assortment of Welsh artisan cheeses each month plus a newsletter, tasting notes and background information.”
The cheeses are made at Bodnant with milk that is delivered fresh from Tal y Cafn Ucha Farm by tanker. It is pasteurised on site in the dairy, before being heated to 32ºC, when cultures and vegetable rennet are added, then cooled to create the cheese curds.
The whey is strained off – this goes back to the farm to be used a fertiliser on the fields – and the curds salted and pressed into shape in a mould.
Each cheese is matured in the storage rooms at Bodnant, where the natural moulds from the air help develop each variety’s unique flavour. Aled checks, turns and tastes the cheeses as they mature, at 11ºC, until he judges they are ready to leave.
Bodnant’s dairy also makes ice-creams that are sold in the centre’s tearooms, Hayloft restaurant and the farm shop, along with butter, which won a Great Taste Award in summer, and which is still patted and shaped by hand, and sold wrapped in greaseproof paper.
The Bodnant Welsh Food Centre at the converted Furnace Farm, Tal-y-cafn, in the Conwy valley, was formally opened by Prince Charles in July 2012 and is on course to welcome its millionth visitor.
More than 80 people are employed in the farm shop, wine cellar, tea rooms, Hayloft restaurant and farmhouse accommodation along with the Welsh Bee Centre, while more than 100 artisan food producers are represented at Bodnant
More details at www.bodnant-welshfood.co.uk or call 01492 651100