The next phase of my eccentric project: On most Fridays in the season I will be making cheese at Easton Farm Park. I am creating a pop-up kitchen near to the gift shop and each time will be attempting to develop a new cheese. This week was literally a soft launch, attempting a soft cheese within the day. I found a recipe for a cheese roule in my Paul Peacock Book, in theory a 45 min culture, 45 min to curd cut and then drip and roll – OK still ambitious but .. worth a go?
I have two suppliers for milk, Calf at Foot Dairy for rich Jersey milk and now Jonny’s girls, for a leaner but still raw, unpasteurised milk. I will be experimenting with both over the coming weeks. The start of this week’s project was driving to Bungay and using the milk dispenser to fill my glass milk bottles with fresh unpasteurised milk. I spent a ridiculous amount of time just watching Jonny’s girls, the cows, as they moved from the milking parlour to the yard, before they were returned to the field. The interaction between them was intriguing; I don’t think they like the foot-bath, each one stopped to smell it and waited until they were boxed in before moving.
On Friday morning I pitched up at Easton – what a lovely friendly team they have there. I found my bit of barn and with the aid of some banquet tables, kettle and ring turned it into my pop up dairy. One reason for wanting to work at Easton is to engage with people about cheese from Suffolk, history, thoughts about cheese and also in the pauses, while the cheese is ripening, dripping, pressing etc to write stories based on traditional Suffolk tales.
The concept behind Cheese Factor in Residence is that I will test out different techniques and decide which ones will go through to the next ’round’. As the cheeses are experimental and not being created in a proper kitchen I will not be able to offer them to taste or to sell, but hope that people will be happy to engage in conversation as I develop my ideas. I came across the term cheese factor in the will of John Jennix a cheese factor from Mendlesham in 1677.
For me it was a perfect start day, overcast and drizzly meant there were not many people around, so I was free to just work on the practicalities and talk a little with the brave souls who were out and about. I also worked on an information leaflet, to try and explain a little of the history and ideas behind the cheese factor. You can see the leaflet here.
My effort at a roule, is best described as rejected. The end product was far too wet and even after several hours of dripping it managed to be both rubbery and wet. I smushed it to make a base for rolling but the end result was like a failed meringue. After the lovely soft goat chevres I’ve been creating it was a disappointment. Never mind, next week I’m in search of my first Bang!
I tried to write the story of the Sciapod, but it turned into a bit of a ditty….
Where did the Sciapod throw the cheese?
Sciapod lived in the root of a tree;
Same sized feet as you and me.
When farmers came to eat a snack,
He reached with his toes and grabbed some back.
With practice he came to find,
His feet grew longer to reach the rind.
The navy wanted Suffolk cheese; then,
Elizabeth died and Pepys did pen,
A diary, in which much cheese was eaten,
His wife and staff were vexed and chasten’,
When fire rushed through London Town,
Burning many buildings down.
The cheese had become too hard for sea,
It was in danger of causing mutiny,
The cream had gone to fill a cup,
And butter toast for the higher up.
Suffolk Bang was hard as nails,
Only good for barrow wheels.
But Sciapod, the crafty ‘sole’,
Whisked three away; some say he stole.
He ran fast, for he was fleet,
Then kept them shaded with his feet.
Eventually he could run no further,
So threw them in pond, sea and river.
On moon lit nights you may find them there,
Just take a while to stand and stare.