First Stop: Making Cheese in Wales

by kirstin on October 23, 2014

DrainingCurds-Hafods (1 of 1)

Sam tending to the curds.

The start of my two month trip to Wales, England and Ireland left me feeling spoiled. My first stop was to Hafod, a cheesemaker utilizing suuuuuper old cheddar-making methods- think 11 and 13 hour-long cheese making days- to produce earthy, layered Cheddars in east Wales. After spending a week with the wonderful Holden family, I wondered how I would be able to happily move on. Quite literally at times- I managed to throw my back out the day before leaving their place.

A combination of all that I learned from Sam and Rachel Holden in the make room (fueled by hourly tea breaks), Rachel’s cooking, visiting Welsh secret gardens, and rubbing lard on cheddar wheels would be impossible to top, I thought. Luckily, I was proven wrong. Cheesemakers I visited in England, where I traveled after Wales, exceeded my expectations at every stop. I ate wonderfully, met more fabulous people, and, had more chances to witness animal fat and cheese form a close relationship (buttered Lancashire, be still my heart). Here are a few pics of my time at Hafod. I hope you enjoy. More to come.

The girls waiting their turn to be milked



Joss in action

Joss at the mill.

Pressing Hafod.

Pressing Hafod.

Larding Hafod- the magic before the bandage.

Larding Hafod- the magic before the bandage.



Hafod Cheddar

As I type this, I’m flying over the Nevada desert towards Heathrow, London. Starting today, all newsletter updates and blog posts for the next two months are going to be sent from the British and Emerald Isles! If you’re asking yourself, is this months-long British and Irish exploration cheese-based, your answer is yes. I’m going to eat more Cheddar, Wensleydale, and thistle-rennet goat cheeses than I’ve ever eaten in my life. And you can bet your bottom pounds and euros I will tell share the dairy glory.

I’m more than a little excited. First a month in England, off-and-on, then some time in Ireland. I’m also a little nervous. I’m hoping that at some point during my trip I master using phone country codes and that the British and Irish friends I’m visiting honor the beauty that coffee brings to a morning while I’m crashing on their couches (they already have). But more than anything, I’m excited. And hoping that the whole driving-on-the-left-side-of-the-road thing isn’t as difficult as Irish car hire insurance policies suggest.

Cheddar Sheets

The purpose of my trip is, you guessed it, cheese inspired and general tourism! I’m visiting producers who I’ve been enamored with from afar for years and just hanging out in general. Just a few cheese folks I’ll be visiting: Hafod, Quickes, Hawe’s Wenslydale, Gubbeen. Seeing the rolling hills of Somerset, and being stopped in the middle of the road by sheep when I’m late to catch a train or do something important pretty much seems like the best thing ever right now.

I’ll keep you all posted with blog updates (as jaunting across the pond and a little behind on blog updates, you may see a rendition of this newsletter here, but remember, you read it first!) and then, later after I return to the U.S., there will much more writing. And there will be articles and classes.

Keep posted on my whereabouts via my blog, and feel free to drop me a line in the comments section, or at kirstin@itsnotyouitsbrie. I’ve love to hear your local recs while I’m exploring the culture, history, and deliciousness of the cheese from these two beautiful countries. I’m honored to have this chance to roam and can’t wait to share my adventures with you!

Hooping Cheddar Curds

If you’re anticipating needing a cheese fix once I return, 
here are a few classes I’ll be teaching when back in the U.S:

Winter Cheese & Wine, Tuesday, Nov 25th, Cheese School of San Francisco

What begins as fresh milk in the spring, results in a well-aged cheese to keep us nourished and satiated through the winter. These cheeses are meaty and rich and make the perfect foil for wine both red and white. Wine maven Kirstin Jackson will introduce you to eight beautiful examples of the fruits of spring and some wines that are also worth the wait.

Winter Sparklers: Wednesday, Dec 10th, Cheese School of San Francisco

Prosecco, cava, California sparkling wine, champagne. If you ask us, everything tastes better with bubbles. But some cheeses really do sing to the tune of fruity, floral effervescence. Join author and wine and cheese pairing savant Kirstin Jackson for a festive evening exploring the best cheeses to pair with sparkling wine. After this class you can consider yourself holiday-party ready.

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