So whilst my blogging continues I thought a brief tour of some of our local cheeses was in order… We stock over seventy cheeses and out of these an impressive fifteen are made in Norfolk or Suffolk. And in no way are any of these ‘pity purchases’; they are all fantastic in their own right and the fact that they’re made on local farms is just a bonus! Here’s a little snapshot of our selection from Suffolk…
Right on our doorstep is Fen Farm Dairy who produce the brilliant Baron Bigod, a wonderful farmhouse brie, using their raw unpasteurised milk (which is also available to buy from the UK’s first milk vending machine at the farm gate!). Jonny and Dulcie Crickmore are third generation farmers at Fen farm, and have become somewhat local celebrities with their innovation around one of the most basic principle – that the very best food in the world is the simplest, straight from nature to your plate. Baron Bigod is a creamy, white bloomy-rind cheese with farmyard and mushroomy flavours. It is very special in that it can truly be called a farmhouse Brie; made by the farmer, on the farm, using a very traditional Brie-de-Meaux recipe. It’s made in small batches with the milk from their Montbeliarde cows who graze the rich variety of grasses and herbs that grow on land of Stow Fen, an unusual wildlife-rich Basin marsh which is completely unique to the Waveney Valley. Bungay’s very own Brie…how lucky are we!
It’s because of this very special milk that a few years ago The Crickmores were joined by a fellow cheesemaker Julie Cheyney, who relocated to our part of the world to make her cheese ‘St Jude’s’ on the farm. The high protein levels in the raw milk are fundamental to delicate and almost ‘mousse like’ texture of these beautiful little cheeses which have a very thin, delicate rind. Julie is a true professional and cheese enthusiast, and has been kind enough to join us for several tasting days where she tells our customers all about her cheese making process, and wonderful insights into her life as a cheesemaker (she often gets up midnight to go down to the farm and give the curds a stir just as the right moment before returning to her bed!).
Further from Bungay (but not too far!) is another producer – Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses who are based in Coddenham. Katherine and Jason Salisbury began producing cheeses over ten years ago with the milk from their herd of pedigree Guernsey cows. Their Suffolk Gold is aged for twelve weeks, and is a semi hard, creamy cheese with an almost buttery flavour. Their Suffolk Blue is a lightly veined blue cheese which is rich and slightly soft in texture. Both cheeses are made from vegetarian rennet and pasteurised milk, and can vary throughout the year in their appearance and flavour, a natural characteristic of the seasonal changes in the milk throughout the year.
Our final cheese producers are based in Baylham, near Needham Market in the heart of mid Suffolk. Rodwell Farm Dairy have been producing their cheeses for a decade, when Robin and Susan Richards wanted to restore the link between milk production and dairy produce, but the Richards family have been at the farm for over seventy five years! Suffolk Hawkston is loosely based on a crumbly Cheshire style cheese, and is a medium strength with a slight ‘sharpness’ to its flavour. Suffolk Shipcord can be described as more of a cheddar style cheese; the robust texture is a result of the curds and whey being scalded at a high temperature during the cheese making process. Suffolk Shipcord is matured for at least five months and has a fantastic full flavour, but there is also the Suffolk Shipcord Extra Mature which is matured for a full twelve months. Each cheese is made from the unpasteurised milk from the farm’s own dairy herd, and is named after a river meadow on the farm.
It really is very easy to put together a fantastic cheeseboard using only Suffolk cheeses, so next time you pop in to see us don’t forget to take some home with you or ask for a little taste!
I’ve shared some posts recently on social media about a local Pop Up Restaurant, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to explain a little more about it and how we’re involved.
One of the great things about my job is the other likeminded people you get to meet, and working together in various ways. I met two of my ‘business partners’ several years ago when I was splitting myself between two shops, and I was firstly introduced to Carl Scott who owns a beautiful set of luxury holiday accommodation called Woodfarm Barns which is just down the road from The Deli at the Chilli Farm. Carl and I started working together with me providing Suffolk food hampers for his guests because of our shared values and ethos when it comes to our customers. Around this time, he hosted his first Pop Up Restaurant alongside his friend Mark Peters – a Michelin star trained chef – whose company Just Imagine Foods took over the farmhouse for the weekend, offering a fine dining experience in the beautiful surroundings of a five hundred year old, thatched farmhouse on a Friday and Saturday night, and Sunday lunchtime.
Mark’s passion for seasonality and provenance goes hand in hand with life in the deli, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to get involved by increasing the menu from six to seven courses and offering a local cheese course. The event is now bi annual, and this weekend has just seen the fifth Pop Up that we’ve provided the cheese for; this time round there was Baron Bigod (the famous ‘Bungay Brie’), St Jude’s (also made in Bungay), and Suffolk Shipcord which is made just a short drive from Woodfarm Barns, alongside some brilliant homemade chutneys from Candi’s Chutneys.
So if your mouth is now watering at the thought of it (mine certainly is!), you can find out more on their websites – www.woodfarmbarns.com or www.justimaginefoods.com or follow their Twitter and Facebook pages for updates.