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A distinctive lemon-coloured rind and creamy, nutty avour have made the award-winning Golden Cenarth a star of the

cheese world
BY

Mellow yellow

PATRICK MCGUIGAN/ PHOTOGRAPHER JEAN CAZALS/ FOOD STYLIST SEIKO HATFIELD


Harrods Magazine harrods.com

145

FOOD

etite, curvaceous and with delicate, dusky skin, Golden Cenarth has become a pin-up of the cheese world. But theres more to this Welsh beauty than its looks. Made with organic milk from the verdant Teifi Valley and hand washed in cider, the cheese has a rounded character, taking in nutty, savoury flavours and a rich, creamy depth. Judges at the 2010 British Cheese Awards were certainly swept off their feet by its charms. They named Golden Cenarth from Caws Cenarth the Supreme Champion from a field of more than 900 other cheeses. What made the accolade even more remarkable was that the cheese had only been launched two years previously. Its meteoric rise is almost unheard of in the dairy world, where cheeses often take up to five years to achieve such recognition. The fame and adulation has come with its fair share of heartache, however. Carwyn Adams, MD of Camarthenshire-based Caws Cenarth, admits that, like all true superstars, Golden Cenarth can be a bit of a prima donna. Its quite a temperamental little cheese, says Adams. If we dont get conditions spot on, it doesnt thrive at all. To be honest, its been the bane of our lives trying to get it right, so winning the award made it all worthwhile. Caws Cenarth was set up by Adams mother and father, Thelma and Gwynfor, in 1961. The business started as a dairy farm, but in 1987 Thelma started producing cheese to add value to the milk. Now that Thelma and Gwynfor have retired, Caws Cenarth is run by Carwyn and his wife, and is focused solely on cheese. My mums meant to be retired, but shes still down here every day bossing us around. Thats what mothers are for, I suppose! he jokes. I really dont mind. She just loves the cheese, and there wouldnt be a business if it wasnt for all their hard work. Hard work is certainly an essential ingredient in the production of Golden Cenarth, not to mention high levels of skill and expertise. Small 200-litre batches of organic pasteurised milk from local farms are used to make the curd, which is gently cut by hand and ladled into small moulds. Each of these then has to be manually turned upside down every few hours to help drain the whey and form the cheese. Its like baby-sitting, says Adams. If you go out for the evening, you have to make sure youre back by midnight to turn the cheeses, and if it means getting up in the middle of the night, thats what we do. Once out of the moulds, each individual cheese is rubbed with organic sea salt not a quick job when you consider that each batch produces 92 small cheeses. However, what really makes Golden Cenarth such a diva is its trademark lemon-coloured rind. This is formed by a naturally occurring culture, Brevibacterium linens, which colours the outside of the cheese and helps develop its complex flavours. The culture is present in the everyday flora of the cheese room (Adams first noticed the telltale tint on some Caerphilly), but getting it to form on a semi-soft cheese like Golden Cenarth is fraught with difficulties. The culture is very sensitive to humidity and

Its like baby-sitting. If you go out for the evening, you have to make sure youre back by midnight to turn the cheeses
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temperature, and sometimes it just wont grow, says Adams. We havent cracked it 100%, but were getting far better at adjusting the atmosphere in the maturing room. Thats where the experience comes in, and its what artisan cheese making is all about. Washing the cheeses also helps develop the distinctive bloom, with each one rubbed in bowls of brine and cider. This ancient technique was supposedly discovered by monks who found that dousing cheese in beer gave it a meaty flavour, which was handy when they were fasting and not allowed to eat meat. As anyone whos eaten Stinking Bishop will testify, washed-rind cheeses can have a pungent odour, yet, inside, the glossy, white flesh tends to be surprisingly mild and creamy. Golden Cenarth is certainly not in the heavyweight category of washed-rind cheeses; it has a pleasant, earthy aroma, and the ivory interior is firm and lemony when young, developing to an intense, oozy maturity at about six weeks. The flavour and texture also change throughout the year, reflecting what the cows have been eating. In late summer, after they have fed on lush Welsh grass for several months, Golden Cenarth is at its glorious best. Crikey, the milk is creamy then, says Adams. Were only eight miles from the coast, so it rains a lot here in the mornings, even over the summer. Its great for the grass. The good thing is that it clears up nicely by about 3pm, just after weve finished making the cheese. HMN Available from Food Halls, Ground Floor Patrick McGuigan contributes to Square Meal, The Spectator and Fine Food Digest

Caws Cenarth farm in Wales

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