16 Mar 2020
Brooke’s Dairy – Producer Of The Month
17 Oct 2019
At the Welsh Cheese Company, we really care about championing skilled artisan cheese makers from Wales.
In this blog series, you’ll get a unique insight into how our producers make their signature cheeses.
For our first cheese Producer Of The Month, we’re delighted to shine the spotlight on our good friends, Brooke’s Dairy. Hannah Turner of Brooke’s Dairy makes Angiddy; a beautiful mould ripened cheese named after the area where her family farm is based in the Wye Valley.
When Hannah first conceived Angiddy, she contacted Tom who had recently launched The Welsh Cheese Company, to see how they could work together. It’s been fantastic to see how the cheese side of the family dairy business has flourished.
We caught up with Hannah to find out what life as a Welsh artisan cheese producer is like, how Angiddy was developed and her personal recommendations for cheese pairing.
What inspired you to first get into cheesemaking?
I’ve always liked eating cheese and growing up on a dairy farm I always thought I’d like to have a go at making it using our own milk. I told a few friends that I might make cheese and they kept asking when I was going to get around to doing it. So, I thought I’d better see if I could and signed up to a few different cheese courses.
Why did you decide to make a soft cheese in particular?
I started with soft cheese as it’s one of my favourite cheeses to eat. I thought the Jersey milk would be great. It has such an amazing colour and creamy taste, I wanted to make sure that those characteristics would be showcased.
How much of a role did Food Centre Wales play in helping with the development of Angiddy?
One of the cheese making courses I attended was at FCW and I was amazed by the facilities and knowledge of the team there. I hadn’t come across FCW before and hadn’t realised what support they could provide, not least being able to hire the facilities to develop my cheese.
What were the main challenges in getting up and running as a cheesemaker over the past few years?
The last few years have been such a learning curve and we’ve packed in quite a bit, from developing the cheese at FCW to winning a Gold at the World Cheese Awards to converting a barn on the farm and creating our own cheese dairy and most recently achieving SALSA certification. I think the biggest challenge as with most things is probably time – there is never enough! Farms are 24/7 (as are young children!) so there is a lot of juggling that goes on.
What, if anything, has changed, now that the cheese is made back on your family farm?
There are certainly some practical things. I only need to move the milk a matter of metres to get it into the dairy now, but the cheese itself is the same. We had to test all of our processes and equipment to make sure they were all doing as we expected and thanks to all our suppliers and builders, they do!
What food or drink do you most like to pair with Angiddy?
I think Angiddy is a really versatile cheese. It’s great on its own or baked like a camembert, and it’s great with a fruity chutney like Apple and Ale Chutney from The Preservation Society or paired with The Wye Valley Meadery’s Honey and Hops.
What is your favourite Welsh cheese (other than Angiddy)?
Oh tricky! There are some really amazing Welsh cheeses! Cenarth Caerffili is delicious and I love the fact that it’s made using an old family recipe. At the other end of the taste spectrum is Tysul Blue which is a new blue cheese which I love.
How do you feel about the current state of cheesemaking in Wales?
We have great cheesemakers in Wales and it takes a lot of skill and patience to create a good cheese. Wales has such a strong history in creating delicious foods and drinks and it’s great to be part of this foodie community!
What’s next for Brookes Dairy?
We have two delicious cheeses in the pipeline as well as some new tasty ice cream flavours so 2020 will be an exciting time with all the final tastings and getting them ready for launch.