Ever wondered what a 300-year-old cheese tastes like? Stop for an hour at the new Bodnant Welsh Food Centre in the Conwy Valley and find out.
For three centuries, farmers here made cheese to sell to travellers passing along the trade route between Cheshire and Holyhead port.
Influenced by the passers-by, Aberwen cheese was made Cheshire-style but matured quickly over a few months, so they could make and sell more of it.
So while the recipe has matured for over 300 years, the cheese itself is a little quicker to make!
But that’s not the reason why Aled Rowlands, Dairy Manager at Bodnant Welsh Food, chose to revive this cheese-making tradition.
“We want to keep alive the old recipes, but give them a modern flavour,” he says. “The milk comes from a single farm just a mile away. It would be difficult for the milk to be any fresher!
“Where possible the cheese-making process is by hand. It’s the way it used to be, but now we also take into account food miles and traceability. It’s tradition mixed with modern techniques.”
Aled and assistant Debbie also make Afongoch, an orange version of the cheese that did the reverse of Aberwen and influenced cheesemakers in England.
As well as selling cheeses, butters, yoghurts and creams from the farm shop, their wares are fresh ingredients for other food making at Bodnant Welsh Food.
They mix with flours stone ground in Welsh mills to make breads and cakes in the bakery. Milk becomes ice-cream and sells from the parlour, or it is made into cream and poured on slices of homemade cake in the tearoom.
“We are bringing back artisan cheese-making and traditional ingredients, and using them locally as they once were,” says Aled.
“It’s an exciting place to work. We’re supporting the local community, and visitors get a real taste of North Wales.”
Visit Bodnant Welsh Food – www.bodnant-welshfood.co.uk