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The Cheese Trail

Neal’s Yard Dairy
Covent Garden or Borough Market, London

September 2004

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.

Quicke’s Dairy
Newton St. Cyres, Devon

September 2004

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 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 lightly.
“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 cooler weather.”
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.


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