cardiff cheese festival

a couple of weekends i was in cardiff at the great british cheese festival. wow! i went with a group of friends and we had an amazing time. apparently there were over 400 cheeses on offer and i think my friend dorne and i must have tried most of them.

this is a fabulous event for anyone who likes cheese and the setting – the grounds of cardiff castle (pictured above, thanks charlie for letting me use your snaps to show off cardiff’s charms!) – is just perfect.

the cheese was in a large tent and the majority of the little stalls were manned (and womanned!) by the cheesemakers themselves. chatting to these cheese-making maestros was wonderful – not only did i learn all sorts of things (including the fact that goats milk doesn’t taste of goat, everyone should try it!) but it was great to hear honest views about which of their cheeses were still works in progress and which were superstars.

and there were plenty of superstars – i went armed with the times top 10 list of cheese and managed to try several types of cheese which i’d not previously had. particular favourites (in other words, the ones i bought) were:

goldilocks by daisy & co is made in somerset using organic milk from jersey cows. this and the perl wen, a welsh cheese made with organic cows milk, are both creamy white-rinded cheese (similar to a brie or camembert in appearance) and had the most luxurious buttery texture and rich but still quite mild flavours. i also bought a white rinded goat’s milk cheese – white nancy which is in the times top 10.

then, there were the 3 hard cheeses i chose. two were differently aged versions of the times-praised old winchester. this is described as being a cross between a parmesan and an old gouda and both were packed full of flavour. i’m hoping to use some of these to perk up a macaroni cheese supper. i also got some thomas hoe stevenson special reserve aged red leicester which completely changed my perceptions of what a red leicester could (and should!) taste like – layers of creamy nutty savouriness.

in addition to the cheese i bought a bottle of welsh elderport (hedgerow fruits such as elderberries and blackberries with brandy then aged in barrels) and black cherry brandy (finest morel cherries blended with brandy), both from celtic country wines. i’ve only opened the black cherry brandy and so far it has been a success poured over vanilla ice cream (david’s preference) or added to a glass of cava (my preference).

i’m definitely going back next year, both to the cheese fair and carfdiff bay (pictured below).