Part 4 – An appointment with Thelma (but not Louise)

Alexander our Farmshop Buyer, has a huge passion and love of cheese. Here is part four of “Personal Reflections of a humble Cheesemonger” we hope you are enjoying the read.

Part 4 – An appointment with Thelma (but not Louise)

Written by Alexander Evans our Farmshop Buyer 

After my visit to Sleight Farm I motored on to Newcastle Emlyn, Pembrokeshire, and spent a full day cheesemaking with Thelma Adams at Caws Cenarth. Thelma knew not just how to make the best cheese, but also how to market it. As the Queen’s corgis had come from Pembrokeshire, Thelma put them on the label of her Caerphilly. Thelma rescued Caerffili

from the indifferent, bland, white Caerphilly of the regional creameries by  creating a proper farmhouse cheese, with its own colour, texture and taste. As she stood at the long vat, the raw milk poured from a pipe running from the milking parlour next door, the domain of her husband Gwynfor. Thelma’s enthusiasm for making cheese was infectious and I will always remember the day I spent there. Her son now runs the business and has created several new cheeses. I particularly like his Perl Las, a cuddly, white mould covered, semi soft, mild blue, and Golden Cenarth, which is a take on Vacherin and perfect for gently baking in the oven.

Cheese: an ever fascinating subject

I once gave a talk on cheese as part of a food festival held at Rheged and to prepare,  I phoned Mary Quicke to ask her about her cheese. A year previous, I had attended a tasting master course organised by Juliet Harbut. There, James Montongomery told us what to look for in a cheddar, how differences in ambient humidity during maturation can make such a difference to the ultimate taste. He had very definite opinions on what a cheddar should taste like and . My own choice of cheddar would be Westcombe’s but for all round qualities of taste and texture, it has to be Mary Quicke. I love the mellow, crumbly texture of her Vintage Cheddar, but my daughter prefers her Extra Mature, which is creamier. I phoned Mary before I gave my talk and asked her about what she was looked for in a cheddar and whether she thought that there was a difference in approach between men and women cheesemakers. She thought that there was a difference, as women were more likely to be super-tasters, and were looking for subtlety, whilst some men might want more instant gratification!

FINAL PART – Published tomorrow 


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