Elin Wyn Jones
The A470 is a mighty long road. Start out at the Cardiff end and you’ll have nearly 200 miles in front of you as you travel almost the length of Wales through the South Wales Valleys, two National Parks (Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia) until, maybe 4 hours later, you reach the coast at Llandudno. If it’s Rhyd y Delyn Cheese you’re after you’ll need to take the A55 shortly before that and veer west to the Island of Anglesey. Here, near the village of Pentraeth you’ll find Maldwyn and Menai Jones and their pedigree milking herd that dates back to 1938.
In reality, although there are plenty of good reasons to make the trek from Cardiff to Anglesey, picking up cheese from the Rhyd y Delyn Farm isn’t one of them, as there’s a fair chance you’ll pass a quantity of it coming the other way. Elin Wyn Jones, daughter of Maldwyn and Menai, has Canna Deli in Cardiff, a venue renowned for its terrific coffee, cakes and of course a magnificent range of Welsh cheese. Featuring amongst the latter a Rhyd y Delyn farmhouse cheddar, oak smoked by the Cardiff smokery Old Billyo and christened, yes, A470 in honour of a road well travelled both by the cheese and Elin.
Organic cheese by Caerfai FarmAll the Rhyd y Delyn cheeses are made in a small modern dairy just metres away from where the herd of Holstein Friesians are milked by the family (every day including Christmas Day). The range includes Môn Las (Anglesey Blue) a rich and creamy Welsh take on a classic Gorgonzola recipe, Caws Rhyd y Delyn in the Camembert style, and Caws Caled, a classic Welsh farmhouse style. Hard cheeses are salted, naturally, with Halen Môn produced on the island and during the season a cheese is produced with local samphire. The move into cheese dates back to 2009 when the family were looking of ways to add value to their milk and saw the opportunity to make quality cheese and sell it through local markets and delicatessens.
Elin’s own route to deli owner and purveyor of fine cheese is a less commonly trodden path, having been head of science at Ysgol Dyffryn Nantlle in Gwynedd before returning to her roots in dairy, cheese and great Welsh produce. It says a lot about the vibrancy, magnetism and confidence of the Welsh food scene at the moment that someone is willing to take such a radical and enterprising turn on the road to a less certain destination.