Covent Garden or Borough Market, London
What a cold, rainy trip—even
for England! But the chance to spend some time with the people at Neal’s
Yard Dairy more than compensated. Their direct contact with Britain’s best
creameries makes Neal’s Yard a true gold mine. I discovered some new favorites;
ask about our British farmstead cheeses next time you’re in the shop.
Procedures in the shop and backrooms differ from what we experience in the U.S.—
frankly, some of them seem pretty outlandish compared to how we operate here.
Perhaps an answer to their problems in the farmyards over the past few years?
In any case, the cheese is stellar and the people charming. Don’t miss it
if you ever have the chance to visit.
Newton St. Cyres, Devon
While in England, we also enjoyed a beautiful trip to
the Westcountry. The farm and large expanse of surrounding land has been in the
Quicke family for 450 years, although it wasn’t until the 1970s that Sir
John Quicke turned to traditional cheesemaking. Today his daughter Mary runs the
dairy, producing wonderful wrapped cheddar.
I especially enjoyed taking a little side trip to Mary’s mother’s
gardens. It was officially closed the day we visited, but Mary graciously invited
us to drive over to see it. In September, after a particularly wet summer, the
grass and other vegetation were luxuriant—and the azaleas still lovely.
Mary writes a very conversational and personal newsletter from the farm (see www.quickes.co.uk
for the latest posting). By October, the month after our visit, the weather had
changed and she had this to report: “I can no longer pretend it’s
summer—it’s colder, windier, mistier and damper. By the middle of
the month, the sun’s no stronger than it is at the end of February—humble
thought, but it’s warmer—all that warm sea around us letting us down
“Autumn milk is usually more fatty, but the wetter grass is giving a spring-like
feel to it, so the cheesemakers are keeping a constant eye on the make. It’s
dealing with the milk you’ve got, and adjusting to that, not just the milk
you expect that makes great cheese. We need to cosset the cheese along a bit more
in the cooler weather, although it’s much easier doing the heavy work in
She had more to say on the pasture and pigs, the cows and hedgerows. You know
it’s real cheese when it comes from someone with such intimate sensibilities
for the place where the cheese is made.