The second time I had Hafod (pronounced: Havod) Organic Cheddar, I was staying at Y Talbot (trans: The Talbot), a pub in the Welsh town of Tregaron, not far from where Hafod is produced (no coincidence: I was writing about the cheese for Culture magazine).
If you’re lost and find yourself passing through Tregaron (not the worst place to be lost by a long shot, as the image at the end of the feature should attest), stop for the burger at Y Talbot. Expertly cooked steak mince topped off with an affable slab of Hafod. If you’re lucky, as I was, you’ll also catch the gregarious landlord spinning a yarn about a legendary local elephant to some punters (this time, it was a table of American journos). Apparently, the remains of the elephant were buried nearby, or so the legend goes…
“Did they find the bones?” a journalist cut in. Unfortunately, they had not.
But who needs intangible things like Welsh elephants and credibility when you offer clean, well-lit rooms at reasonable prices and a magnificent burger? And how fortunate to have Holden Farm Dairy (part of the Teifi Valley Cheese Producers group although the farm is not strictly in the Teifi Valley), producers of Hafod, so close at hand to supply the ingredient that elevates a burger from ‘tasty’ to ‘something quite special’.
Hafod is a raw milk cheddar made to a time-consuming old recipe; a decision by cheesemaker Sam Holden to create a cheese with a flavour profile that fully expresses the diversity of the farm’s organic pastures. The result is a more moist farmhouse cheddar than favourites such as Keen’s or Montgomery’s, but the flavour has a similar complexity and long finish as you’d expect from an unpasteurised cheddar, with perhaps an added creaminess. Actually, that makes it sound just like a creamier version of those other cheddars, when in fact it’s very much its own beast. And a very delicious beast at that, especially with a nice pint of bitter. A legend in the making.