“ Brand: DaisyandCo / Type: Cheeses „
Speaking to my daughter at her veterinary surgery in Wales, hearing her stories this week of the tremendous work Welsh farmers are doing with their cattle, despite the most horrendous weather conditions really brings home to me the hard life these farmers have, and also the dedication to their livestock. All over the UK in appalling blizzards animals are cared for and made comfortable, and this is no easy task. One such farm which devotes love and care to its cows is Tree Tops near the medieval town of Bruton in Somerset. Richard and Caroline Harbord run this 80 acre farm organically, and here is home to their 40 pedigree Jersey cows. They all have names, even Nestor their bull, and they are cared for to the highest standards, allowed to graze in lush pastures and to wander into the milking sheds twice a day for milking. The winter affords them cosy hay and straw beds in large airy barns to snuggle down, away from the bitter winter winds. They produce rich Jersey milk which is made into soft cheeses. Their cheese is sold under the name Daisy and Co, Daisy herself a cow, but they have others too including Ivy, Louise and Jasmine. This attention to detail, naming the cows and allowing them as far as possible to live their lives as nature intended is something I have seen before on the remote Scottish Island of Muck. Here cows do exactly that, they wander in and out of the milking sheds when their milking time draws near, and each one is lovingly named and cared for. Daisy and Co make several different kinds of soft cheese from their Jersey milk and each one is creamy, just as you would expect from premium cows from this breed. The cheese is made using traditional methods, which have barely changed in centuries. Freshly gathered milk is poured into the cheese vat and warmed and stirred, and turned into curds and whey, and the set curd is then collected and placed into moulds and left until all the liquid has drained away. After the addition of salt the cheeses are left for 5 weeks to allow the flavours to develop and to ripen. One of their cheeses caught my eye when I was doing my weekly order from Abel and Cole, the organic home delivery company I use. It is called Goldilocks, and I instantly fell in love with the name. This cheese is available from them and retails for £2.69 for 100g. You can also mail order direct from their website at www.daisyandco.co.uk where you can purchase some for £4.50 including postage and packaging for a larger piece. It is also available from Delicatessens and organic shops, and if you live near to Bath they have a stall at the farmer's market every Saturday there. The wrapping is ideal-sunshine yellow, and a happy looking cow adorns the packet. Suitable for vegetarians as it is made with vegetarian rennet, this cheese is somewhere between the richness of a Brie and its milder tasting cousin Camembert. It has a delicate rind and inside lies a creamy cheese which spreads on toast or crackers with ease. The flavour is outstanding, and the cheese is ideal for serving with chutneys and premium crisps. The colour is a golden pale buttermilk yellow and the smell has a mild but definite cheesy aroma. It is recommended to bring the cheese to its optimum ripeness by leaving at room temperature for a day, and then tightly rewrapping and storing in the coldest part of the fridge. I haven't done this as I like my cheeses less ripened than this, but if you are a real Brie lover this may enhance the flavour. It is also possible to freeze the cheese and then slowly thaw for about 24 hours in the fridge. Their website is excellent and has some lovely recipes ideally suited for this Goldilocks cheese. Here you can also find details of their other cheeses in the range which include; Black-eyed Susan- a young Goldilocks studded with black peppercorns. Viper's Grass- a garlic and chive soft cheese. Indian Blanket- which is a Goldilocks which has been oak smoked. In 2007 Goldilocks won the National Cheese Awards where it was a gold winner in the category for 'soft cheese produced on small farm' Both my son and my husband said how much they enjoyed this cheese, which endorced my views entirely. It is now on my weekly order and will be for the foreseeable future- a lovely companion to a freshly baked French loaf! In these economically challenging times it is wonderful to see a small business thriving and producing such amazingly good cheese, with all the ethical considerations firmly at the forefront of their mind. The animals are treasures on this farm, and the cheese they produce is outstanding.