We were very happy to be featured in Fosse Way Magazine who wrote an article about us and our cheese. You can read the article in full below:
For a cheesemaker, being based in Somerset gives you immense kudos. Not only will you be amongst some of the best names in British cheese making, but the landscape around can provide inspiration for some crowd-pleasing names.
Somerset Cheese Company have done just this and produce five different cheeses, all with a local twist. Pennard Ridge, Fosse Way Fleece, Pendragon, Pennard Vale and Pennard Ridge Red are the specialist blends that have seen manager Philip Rainbow and assistants Anita and Nicholas Robinson win medals at the World Cheese Awards, British Cheese Awards and the Frome Cheese Show.
All their cheeses are handmade on a farm in Ditcheat, overlooking Cary Moor. Philip began the business three years ago after a career with Cricketer Farms at Nether Stowey. He has over 40 years experience in the trade, having started the job at the age of 15 and supplies retailers in Bath, Stratford on Avon, London and delis in Glastonbury, Frome, Shepton Mallet and Wells. He also supplies Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s shop in Devon.
In just three years, Philip has taken traditional cheese recipes for goats,’ buffalo and sheep milk and has adapted them to make them his own. He is developing a new unpasteurised cows’ cheese at the moment.
He says his secret is something he calls his “cheese clock.”
“After a long time of making cheese, you get an automatic feel for the process. I’ll work on the rennet, the curds and whey and the junket without thinking. How you treat it all at different times determines the cheese. This process will last all day.”
Philip is always looking at new ideas for cheeses and says there would be little point in him churning out a traditional cheddar.
“We make specialist cheeses. And they’re really good for people with allergies, such as dairy intolerances, digestive problems or eczema because not all of them contain cow’s milk,” he says.
Philip’s latest cheese project is called Six Spires, inspired by the six churches which can be seen from the farm at Ditcheat Hill. Philip says the modern trend of pasteurised cheeses doesn’t necessarily lend itself to perfect flavours.
“After the cheese is 60 days old, the natural bacteria in it kills off the harmful pathogens. Then after a few months, the bacteria inside is in fact good for the cheese. A lot of natural flavours come through, which many people enjoy. Traditionally, all cheeses were made with unpasteurised milk,” he said.
The team keep a record of all of the milk they use. Their cows’ milk comes from a farm in Glastonbury, while the goats’ is from Bagborough, the sheeps’ from Minehead and the buffalos’ from Hampshire.
Most of their cheeses are over a year old and are sold at their best when the flavours have mellowed. All are suitable for vegetarians and come with or without rinds. Fosse Way Fleece, Pennard Vale and Pendragon are also available as lightly oak smoked varieties.
Philip, Anita and Nicholas are regulars at Montacute House, Axbridge, Keynsham, Nailsea and Bristol farmers’ markets. In the meantime, here’s a run down of the cheese flavours on offer:
Pennard Ridge is a semi-hard goats’ milk cheese made in the Caerphilly style. It develops a good flavour within four weeks and has a chalky texture. The flavour is fresh, clean and slightly fruity with a nutty edge.
Fosse Way Fleece is a Cheddar-style sheeps’ milk cheese. It’s smooth, fresh and clean with a mellow aftertaste.
Pendragon is another Cheddar-style cheese made with buffalo milk. It has a buttery, creamy texture with a strong savoury character and melts in the mouth.
Pennard Vale has a nutty taste and is smooth and creamy with a strong savoury finish. It’s a hard goats’ milk cheese.
Pennard Red Ridge is a hard goats’ milk cheese made in the Red Leicester style. It tastes sweet and nutty and has a sharp edge to finish.
Report by Laura Male
Prices are available on request for large orders. For more information, call the dairy on 01749 860237 or get in touch with them via the contact form on their website.