Easter Tour: Day 1 – Lyburn Cheese

Today has been a fantastic start to our trip!

After a relaxed start to the day topping up the car with BP fuel and checking the oil, we headed out towards Lyburn Cheese. We started our British adventure by stopping at the British institution that is the Little Chef for some lunch. In particular this was the test restaurant of celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal in Popham. The restaurant still has its trademark Heston style but seems sadly to have lost some of the speed and attention to detail that he was keen to implement as he turned the restaurant around. Never the less the staff were very friendly and put up with Lucan having a tantrum when he spilt his juice, by distracting him with crayons and a colouring page. The food was ok, better I’m sure than it used to be there but was quite pricey for just mediocre.

Once we were refuelled we headed out towards Lyburn. We found the farm and cheese making rooms along a long winding road, well signposted and with a very warm welcome from owners Judy and Mike Smales. We were shown the young cows in the barn which Lucan thought were very “phe-ue” and the older cows which Mike explained are having to be kept in for the moment as the weather has been too bad to let them out onto the fields. He also said that since 1954 the farm had not missed a single milking, which I have to admit is a very impressive feat with 130 plus cows to milk twice a day! After a good look around the farm and especially the tractors for Lucan, we went inside to see how all this lovely milk was turned into even lovelier cheese.

We donned our white coats, hair nets and blue shoe covers and signed forms to say we were not poorly and then we were allowed into the cheese making rooms. Unfortunately we hadn’t picked a great day to visit as their Head Cheesemaker, Paul Thomas was away on holiday but nevertheless we were talked through the process of how the cheese is made by Jess. She explained that the milk was pasteurised in the room next to the cheese room and was then pumped directly into the 2100 litre stainless steel vat. The starter and rennet were added and then when ready the curds were placed in their 5kg moulds ready for the maturing process to begin.

At this point we were taken to see where the cheeses are aged. This process takes anything from 10 weeks to 18 months and is what gives the the different cheeses on offer their different textures and flavours. The Lyburn Gold is the youngest and is very creamy and mild, the Winchester is left for around 9 months and finally the Old Winchester is matured for anything up to 18 months and is the best seller for the company. Separate to these there is the Stoney Cross which is a more recently developed cheese and is covered in a layer of mould and stored in a special, separate and if I’m honest pretty stinky room where the mould spore are concentrated to give a good coverage in just 3 months of maturation.There is also the flavoured cheese packed with garlic, nettles and all sorts of other great flavours. All their cheeses start out in exactly the same way and it is simply in the maturation that they develop their unique characteristics. After a tasting of the fantastic cheeses on offer (with Lucan doing more eating than tasting) we left them to carry on their super work.

We carried on towards our home for the night and went passed SetleyRidge Vineyard which promised a free wine tasting. Never ones to turn down a tasting and with the lure of good food to buy for our dinner, we stopped off and bought some local apple juice, bread and tomatoes to go with our cheese from Lyburn.

We are now stopped for the night and are ready for an early start tomorrow as we will be in Poole for 9am. With that in mind we will say night night to you all 🙂

– The Bradshaws

Comments

  1. ooo wondered when you were starting your visit – have fun in Poole tomorrow it has tried to snow today but didn’t land so cold but snowfree! (Glenda – recently moved to Poole!)

  2. Angela Harding says:

    Just wanted to send you warm greetings of encouragement…heard you on the radio..you have changed my way of shopping…..Happy Easter

  3. Angela Harding says:

    Mmmm just noticed Pilgrims Choice cheese …from ‘Award winning creameries around the world??? whoops wonder where my cheese came from?

  4. Peter says:

    Awesome! Looking forward to today’s (Thursday) blog….

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