Alexander our Farmshop Buyer, has a huge passion and love of cheese. Here is part three of “Personal Reflections of a humble Cheesemonger” we hope you are enjoying the read.
Part 3 – Cheesemakers: creative and kind
Written by Alexander Evans our Farmshop Buyer
Having known nothing about cheese before joining the cheese department at Harrods, it was overwhelmed by the sights and smells of more than 200 artisan cheeses. We were lucky that English cheesemakers would deliver their cheese in person. I remember the Appleby’s bringing their Red Cheshire; Mary Holbrook coming up each week from Somerset, laden with her precious fresh Timsbury goats cheeses each Friday, and Mr Hardy and his son coming up from Ashdown Forest with their Sussex Slipcote and at the time, their experimental English halloumi.
I had only just learnt to drive and had some holiday due so I decided to find out more about all these wonderful cheeses. I phoned Mary Holbrook and asked if I could visit. Luckily for me she said yes and I never forget the summer day I spent with her at Sleight Farm. She showed me her milking goats, her tiny Dutch vat in which she made the cheese, but also spoke of her experiments: trying to make the feta she made for us slightly softer so it would appeal more to our Arab customers; using thistles instead of rennet to set her cheese. Mary was generous with her time and so I was not surprised to read of Martin Gott’s ( of St James Cheese, Holker Hall Farm) tribute to her when he wrote that Mary had taught him so much as he learnt his trade. It’s a delight that the link with my much younger self is completed by our selling Martin Gott’s sublime St James washed rind ewes milk cheese, which owes so much to her.
Part four coming later today…