Made by Maugan and Todd Trethowan in North Somerset. Caerphilly cheese, as it has come to be understood today, is a mould-ripened, aged cow’s milk cheese typically sold at three to four months. The style takes its name from a small town in the South of Wales, in the west of the British Isles. Early Welsh producers made this cheese on a very small scale and it became popular with miners at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution as a cheap but rich food. As the demand for it grew, Cheddar-makers in the lush pasturelands of Somerset were happy to use the surplus milk to produce a fast-maturing cheese, as a means to generate a quicker financial return on their milk. As a result, by the end of the nineteenth century, most of the Caerphilly eaten in South Wales came from Somerset.
Todd Trethowan, a former Neal’s Yard Dairy cheesemonger, learned to make Caerphilly from Chris Duckett, a descendant of these original Somerset Caerphilly makers, but by the 1980s the last survivor of this famous tradition. When Todd went back to Wales, he built a cheesemaking facility on his parents’ farm near the town of Llandewi Brefi and began to make cheese. He was later joined by his brother Maugan and sister-in-law Kim, another former Neal’s Yard Dairy cheesemonger. With the intention of improving the quality of their cheese, and after a lengthy search for ‘the best possible milk’, in mid-2014 the Trethowans moved to Somerset. Partnering with a farm whose milk supply showed great potential enabled them to have more control over the raw material and as a consequence, on the final cheese. With their move to Somerset, it feels like the Trethowans have come full circle in their quest to make a traditional farmhouse Caerphilly.
*Please note that in some instances we may sell a pasteurised format of this cheese. The signage in our shops will always reflect the milk treatment for the batch we are selling, and wholesale labels will specify the pasteurised versions with a (P) after the name.
It can sometimes be hard to know how much cheese to buy. If you are at all unsure please give us a call for some advice. As a general rule of thumb, we would recommend roughly between 100 and 150 grams per person for after dinner, and a bit more if cheese is the focus of the meal.
If you are buying cheese to serve over a couple of days or as part of a buffet, it is advisable to buy a few larger pieces. This will both look better and keep better than many small bits.
To help visualise weights, a good tip is to consider that a regular supermarket pat of butter weighs between 200 and 250 grams.
Farmhouse cheese is handmade and thus varies with each day’s production and changes as it matures. As such it is necessary to apply a common sense approach to cheese care and respond to the cheese you have in front of you, as opposed to following rigid guidelines. Here are some pointers which will help you to ensure you eat your cheese at its best.
We sell our cheese wrapped in waxed cheese paper, which achieves the best possible balance between maintaining humidity around the cheese and allowing it to breathe. We are happy to provide some extra cheese paper, you can add some to your basket by visiting “accompaniments“. If you wrap your cheese in cling film or foil, it can cause the cheese to sweat which will negatively affect the flavour.
Cut pieces of cheese should be kept in the refrigerator to slow the growth of mould on their cut surfaces. However, it is important to be aware that refrigerated cheese is more likely to dry out, particularly if it is not wrapped. The best option is to keep the cheese wrapped in its waxed paper within a box in the fridge. The container will help to prevent the cheese from drying out and prevent the cheese from absorbing flavours.
It is very important not to serve your cheese when it’s too cold as cold cheese can taste bland and inert. As a general rule of thumb you should bring it out of the fridge a few hours before you plan to serve it. You should keep your cheese wrapped whilst it is coming up to room temperature, to avoid any risk of it drying out. If it is especially warm you should reduce the amount of time the cheese is out of the fridge accordingly.