“The British Isles are a dairy wonderland of common climate, temperature, elevation and pasture” – Steve Jenkins, cheesemonger
As a cheese region, the Teifi Valley is both new and old. New in the sense that it’s never really been a bona fide “region” until quite recently, after various local authorities embarked on a marketing push for the area and compiled a brochure knitting together five local cheesemakers – Carmarthenshire Cheese Company; Caws Cenarth; Hafod Welsh Organic Cheddar; Sancler Organic; and Teifi Farmhouse Cheese – into the Teifi Valley Cheese Producers.
The brochure reached for the stars, breathily describing how “with its lush pasture and stunning scenery it is no wonder that the Teifi Valley in the heart of south-west Wales has been likened to the ‘Loire Valley’ of Welsh cheesemaking’.
Highfalutin aspirations aside, the Teifi Valley is lush, green and very pleasant to visit (especially when it’s not raining, which it does a fair bit – hence the attractive lushery and greenery). Great bit of coast as well, with hidden beaches and tiny fishing villages backing into rugged cliffs. It’s also dairy country, and prior to the marketing push it was and still remains to be home to the majority of artisan cheesemakers in Wales.
The varieties made in this region vary a lot, but as it’s Wales you tend to find Caerphilly well represented. Besides that, you’ll encounter the whole cheesy gamut from fresh to bloomy rind camembert-style to blue. It’s a creative valley; perhaps all the rain forces the cheesemakers to spend extra time indoors tinkering with their cheeses. Whatever the reason, it’s well worth a tasting trip.
As an added plus, Teifi Farmhouse Cheese has also installed its own distillery. Their farmhouse botanical gin is a sweet little number.
Golden Cenarth – Washed rind, oozy, good for melting in the oven and dipping in with crusty bread (or, whisper it: crispy bacon)
Hafod Cheddar – Organic cheddar made from a century old recipe; the nutty creaminess keeps unfolding in the long finish.
Gorwydd Caerphilly – Exemplary traditional caerphilly, soft and lemony with an earthy rind. (Trethowans Dairy which makes Gorwydd isn’t technically in the Teifi Valley, but it’s just one hill over from Hafod (which is also strictly speaking in the Aeron and not the Teifi Valley), so let’s all just geographically unclench for a minute and focus on the cheese).
Seaweed Teifi – After trying this, Pavarotti apparently shipped a ton (perhaps literally) over to Italy. Haven’t tried it, but did try some Teifi Mature that was, in the effervescent vernacular of the West Country, gert lush.
Build your own taste trail here: http://tastetrailwales.co.uk/en