Hafod Welsh Organic Cheddar
Hafod is one of my all-time favourite cheeses. It’s made from raw milk in the hills above Lampeter, Ceredigion to a 15th century recipe, so it’s the closest thing to how an original cheddar would have tasted hundreds of years ago. The taste varies with the weather and time of year. Hafod soaks up the natural environment, so each batch is slightly different. It always has a beautiful new-grass smell, and it’s very buttery, but sometimes it can be spicier and sharper, or even meaty in flavour.
The original Caws Teifi is a Gouda-style cheese made from raw cows’ milk in the Teifi valley. They also make it with a variety of flavours; I’ve gone for the version with cumin seeds. It looks beautiful on a cheeseboard and the cumin seeds add earthy, savoury notes. Teifi is also one of my favourite cheeses to cook with – it melts really well.
Thelma’s Original Caerphilly cheese
Traditional Welsh Farmhouse Caerphilly now has PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status, and can only be made in Caerphilly in the South Wales Valleys. This one is named after Thelma Adams from Caws Cenarth, who first made it in 1987 to an old family recipe. It tastes like a proper farmhouse Caerphilly should: quite mushroomy and farm-y, with an oozy savouriness, a squidgy layer next to the rind, and a chalkier centre.
Made by Caws Teifi in Ceredigion, this cheese was named best Welsh cheese at the British cheese awards 2018. The texture has a satisfying squidge, it’s very creamy and rich with silky flavours, and because of the washed rind you get this lovely tangy kick at the end. I find some washed-rind cheeses a bit overpowering, but this one is really well balanced - all the flavours come through.
This is a lovely little sheep’s milk cheese, made by a great woman called Carrie Rimes near Bethesda, Gwynedd using raw organic milk from a flock of ewes on the Llŷn peninsula. It’s creamy, decadent and slightly sweet, with great textures: the bloomy rind on the outside gives you a fluffiness, then it’s soft and velvety in the middle.
Check out their Twitter account @CosynCymru
Perl Las Welsh blue cheese
Not many people in Wales make blue cheese on a large scale. There are a few cheesemakers who sell at farmers’ markets, but to get a Welsh blue of consistently high quality then Perl Las is the best example. The moisture content is higher than a Stilton, so it’s not as dry and crumbly. It’s more creamy and minerally, quite salty, and with lovely blue notes that kick in right at the end.
The same people, Caws Cenarth, from Carmarthenshire, make Perl Wen, one of our best sellers — a decadent cream-infused brie that’s great for cooking. I often use it melted down with garlic mushrooms, and pop it on some sourdough with thyme.