When a great new cheese emerges from the green rolling valleys of Monmouthshire, we hit the road, our taste buds and then the keys to let all of you lovely people get the skinny on what’s happening.
It’s always great to hear about something new and delicious to emerge from this beautiful bit of earth that are privileged to occupy. When someone is making a new cheese, this is music to our ears and anyway, who doesn’t like British cheese? Add to that – Welsh cheeses are as good as any in the world! May we present – Angiddy. A mould ripened soft cheese; farmhouse made by the lovely family firm more famous for its award-winning artisan ice cream – Brooke’s. So, when this family decides to make cheese, expectations are high.
Hannah is the chief cheesemaker and expectations don’t come much higher than those that she heaps upon herself. Tucked away in her very own cheese cave, she crafts the silky smooth and unctuously rich milk from the farms Jersey cows with a bit of science and lots of love and care. In the serenely quiet and pristine environment fromage, she turns that milk from the rest of staff (the ladies) into a really, really tasty new Welsh cheese. It has been several months in development at the Food Centre Wales were Hannah worked hard perfecting her recipe.
All good science, in this case the magical biological reaction between milk and rennet encouraged by temperature and acidity and finally the crowning glory – mould, needs to be repeatable.
Satisfied that she had perfected her style, flavours, and texture – small scale production began in the boutique new cheese creamery a stones throw from “ice cream central” in this, the most beautiful of Wye Valley natural amphitheatres.
In 300 beautiful acres of Wales sits a natural depression above the Wye Valley. An amphitheatre of agriculture and surrounded by Forestry Commission woodland, the farm, Panta, takes its name from the Welsh for hollow. From a high point above the farm, the name couldn’t be more appropriate. The high ground slopes gently down to the Angiddy that has give its name to many an innovation. The brook slips away along the gentle contours to the industrial revolution it gave birth too, but here, in its gentler course, fed by the many springs on the flanks of the bole, it meanders unheard and unnoticed through the farm.
The gentle slopes that surround the farm on all sides are not flat enough to hold the rain and not steep enough to turbo charge it down the hill. Instead they hold it long enough to create perfect grazing fields, sheltered from the wind and kissed by the sunshine in the best of the Welsh weather. A majestic Oak beside the brook watches over river’s flow and a pastoral scene that hasn’t changed little over hundreds of years. In this domain Robert and Irene (Hannah’s parents) have kept a dairy herd since the 70’s. Today, the fields are dotted with a hundred or so chocolate brown Jersey girls. Happy to eat the lush abundant grass in the fields in which they we all born, then sit a while and ruminate on grass, the beauty of Wales, what’s tea and life in general.
All of this activity results in milk. Rich, creamy world-famous milk ideal for making cheese.
Within 24 hours, the farm milk is in the creameries for ice cream and now cheese, renewing a traditional farming cycle of old interwoven with the demands of farming in the 21st century.
You may want to love this cheese because of your Welsh roots, Welsh pride or a wider appreciation of this outstandingly beautiful borderland. Or you want to champion great local produce from the area we live in and to show the world our producers are of the highest quality. In the end, you’ll love it for what is important beyond all else, the taste. Don’t just take our word for it (although we have brought you some pretty awesome new products over the years). In fact, the world has already said hello to the new Celtic cheese when it debuted at the World Cheese Awards (With entries from a record breaking 35 different countries judged at the 30th anniversary edition of the World Cheese Awards, which formed part of this year’s Taste of London Festive Edition,) and took a Gold medal!
This is a young cheese matured just long enough to form the velvety white rind. It is fresh tasting, rich from the Jersey milk, creamy and delicate. The young rind is bright white, soft and lacks the strong bitter flavour you get with some older soft cheeses. But at the same time, it has a fantastic savoury umami hint and real depth of soft earthy, mushroom flavour. All in all, it’s really subtle and sophisticated and the delicacy combined with the rich sumptuous flavour means that this cheese is a doer. Just as easy to see it simply spread over great bread as it is to see it paired with fresh figs or Conference pears at the centre of a luxury creamy ploughman’s.
When (?) we are out of the EU and have five minutes off from spending the daily NHS bonanza and being a tiny island boxing well above our trading weight, so the narrative goes, we’ll be able to do what we like and call our produce whatever we want. We’ll be able to call this Brie if we want. Never that simple. And why would we want to. Brie is named after the region in which it is made. This cheese is called Angiddy, after the tiny Welsh valley in which it is made and very soon, we think that you’ll prefer and ask for this “Angiddy” by name instead of its famous French cousin.
Angiddy is the new kid on the block and well up to the job for lovers of Welsh cheeses. With Brooke’s ice creams already gracing the shelves of Welsh branches of Waitrose, we are speculating that the farms cheese must be headed that way too.
David Broadbent May 2019