Tag Archives: Maugan Trethowan

How we got started

Todd Trethowan became interested in making cheese after a stint working behind the counter at Neal’s Yard Dairy back in the eighties.  During this time he met lots of cheese-makers and began working for a Welsh cheddar maker called Dougal Campbell, to support himself through his archaeology degree.  His passion for cheese making grew and he went to work with other producers, most notably the late Chris Duckett, in Somerset.

Chris was a third generation Caerphilly maker and by the 1990’s one of the only people making Caerphilly in a traditional way, by hand and on the farm. Todd lived in a draughty old caravan in Chris’s farmyard for 6 months, while Chris passed on his recipe and everything he himself had learnt from his mother and grandmother about making Caerphilly.  Todd returned to the family farm in Wales and set up a small dairy in the former cow sheds and began to make cheese on a very small scale, just as his own grandmother had done as a farm servant near the town of Caerphilly. When Todd started out, he made four 4kg wheels a day, now a team of 5 make forty five 4kg wheels a day with 1,500 litres of milk.

“My first day in my own dairy was the 29th June 1996. It was hot outside. I felt nervous. The most surprising thing was releasing the press the next morning and knocking four Christmas cake-sized cheeses out of their moulds. They looked like cheeses! They smelt sweet, a little sharp, lactic and fresh. I was staggered that after just one day, I’d managed to a make a few cheeses that looked like they were supposed to look.”

Gorwydd Caerphilly took off, and began to be sold at Specialist cheese shops and deli counters around the country. As the business grew, Todd’s brother Maugan joined and they began to look for more staff. They were joined by New Zealand cheese maker and monger Kim, who soon became very much part of the business and then the family, when she and Maugan got married.

Gorwydd Caerphilly started out being made with vegetarian rennet and with Freisian-Holstein milk from a few neighbouring farms. As Todd and Maugan worked on the recipe, they soon changed to single farm milk (which gave them more control over the cheese) and traditional rennet (giving a creamier texture and a fuller flavour). Changes like these required a slow, scientific approach, patience, obsessive record keeping and the discipline to make only one change (among limitless combinations) at a time. Furthermore, they had to wait weeks to find out what those first cheeses would be like, and whether each small change would indeed improve the recipe.

One thing that has never changed is the handmade nature of the cheese. Maugan says, “We always use our hands, if we used the mechanical stirrers or had a closed vat, we wouldn’t feel the difference in the milk and the cheese from one month to the next. In autumn and winter when the cows are eating silage, grains and hay, the milk develops different characteristics to summer or spring milk. Its high butter fat content at this time of year makes the curd feel silky in your hands.  During the spring, animals are eating young grasses and flowers, which produce floral and grassy characteristics in the cheese. In the summer, the grasses are full of beta-carotene, which affects both the flavour and colour of milk.”

After fourteen years making cheese Todd and Maugan still wax lyrical about why they do it: “We’ve always believed in just doing one thing well. This is why we’ve only ever made one cheese, and continue to be as obsessive about attention to detail as on the very first day.”

Todd says that his example of a perfect Gorwydd would be a cheese with a clean taste, a good breakdown and a long flavour.  He likes to eat it with the rind for full effect. The rind gives a wonderful mushroomy flavour, the breakdown has a lovely creaminess to it and the inner ‘core’ is lemony, fresh and crumbly.

Gorwydd is best eaten simply, with apple, pears or fresh walnuts. It’s great in salads, and Mark Hix has a very nice summery salad recipe with shaved fennel, asparagus and Gorwydd Caerphilly.It is also great to cook with and melts very well.

Gorwydd pairs well with a number of white wines, and Fiona Beckett, the Guardian Wine writer suggests the following:

  • White Burgundy; Chenin Blanc; Maçon-Villages; Chablis
  • a cider, perry or light hoppy ale
  • apple juice, pear juice
  • a second flush darjeeling tea.

Gorwydd has won its share of awards at the British and World Cheese Awards, including Best Welsh Cheese, Best Traditional Caerphilly, Best British Cheese and Best Territorial Cheese.

After all these years of making only one cheese, we can honestly say, all the family still love eating Gorwydd Caerphilly – and along with a handful of other favorites, it would always be our cheese of choice whether for an everyday family lunch, a picnic or for an after dinner cheeseboard.

Other people seem to like it too…

“One of the great cheeses of the world.” Nigel Slater

“The first earthy, buttery bite amazed me. This was like no caerphilly I’d ever encountered. I gave in to gluttony and the whole piece had gone long before I got home.”  Bee Wilson

“Utterly addictive” Diana Henry



Why we love Twitter

We love Twitter for loads of reasons, but the most obvious to me recently has been the way in which it allows us to keep in touch with people who inspire us, people who support us and people who say lovely things about our cheese.

This tweet is from a neighbour, just over the mountain from us, who takes our whey for their beautiful Manglitza pigs.

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We also love to hear things like this…

We like to keep tabs on each other

and see what’s going on at Borough Market

and we like to see how restaurants, like Bells Diner and The Ethicurean are serving our cheese

We love it when people like Nigel Slater say things like this

and when people like Elisabeth Luard describe our cheese as gorgeous

and when Fiona Beckett comes up with great pairings for our cheese

We’re 100% handmade



Cheese, Cider, Beer, Wine, Vintage tent, apples, cider barn, cheese makers

cheese school flyer final

Ned’s latest letter home

Dear Maugan, Kim, Jess and Todd,

Apologies for the rather terse communique last time (didn’t get published here, was too terse and sad after loss of Bermondsey 7). We didn’t have great weekends because the market was a bit quiet, and we seemed to be giving away an awful lot of free cheese which always makes me a bit grumpy.
Happily last week end was FANTASTIC. The market was busy and we have changed our sampling tactics, a move which has paid off rather well. So we sold 17 and a bit cheeses, which is great! Also we gave away 2% less cheese which has had a nice effect on our margins.
We used to leave a board of samples on the counter for people to help themselves. Which is very generous of us. The thing is that when the market is very busy people tend to take them without really noticing what they’re tasting. Also we tend to interact less with people that way. Of course what with the cheese being stupendous we get a lot of customers returning at the end of the day having tried everything else in the market. Which is nice. Recently however the rate of sampling to sales has not been so good. So now we keep hold of the board and offer it to people, so we’re getting more conscious attention from our samplees and interacting more with people. And it works.
It is however even more knackering as you are really talking much more to more people. I think the bits of my vocal chords that say things like ‘this is an unpasteurised cow’s milk cheese called Caerphilly’ are wearing thin. Also in the busier bits, as soon as you proffer the board you are immediately surrounded by a sea of shining expectant faces, which is very sweet but can get a bit overwhelming. As a result Joby and I seem to have evolved a sort of tag-team mongering style where we swap over the front position as one of us starts to wilt.
On Friday our dear old scales finally gave up the ghost. This was a bit wearing as it had just got busy. Thankfully we have lots of nice friends in the market so we weighed and priced up a load of pieces, then I left the redoubtable Thea alone on the stall while I tore off to get a new set. She was looking a bit frazzled when I got back but was quickly restored by the sight of our shiny new excitingly back lit scales. It is with gratitude that we send the old ones off to the happy weighing grounds in the sky, long live the new set!
I have spent the week in the garden working with my builder to turn out Fungus the Bogeyman swamp into a nice place to be. So now I am absolutely knackered and broke. We’ll have to work extra hard this week-end to pay for it. You are all invited round for the inaugural barbeque when it is done.
At great personal cost I have found a new cheese joke for you all. Here it is:
What do you call flying cheeses?
Curds of prey.
It is funny. I like it.
Carry on!

Gorwydd Water Wheel

Toast Travels – Diary of a Cheesemaker – Chapter 3: Spring

Bidding fond farewell to winter cheeses

The garden is now dotted with hundred of crocuses so Spring is surely springing. But before it is totally sprung, lets just look back at some of the lovely winter cheeses that we’ve been eating for the last few months.  Their characters will all be changing with the seasons – particularly the Gorwydd Caerphilly as the cows head back outside to pasture. Some, like the Vacherin Mont D’or will disappear entirely until the autumn.  Here’s a lovely piece written by Alex for Harbourside magazine about these seasonal beauties.

Looking after the wholesale business for Trethowan’s Dairy means constant contact with some of the top chefs in Bristol and one of the elements that excites them all are seasonal foods. Few people however would include cheese in that category.

The fact is, when dealing  with artisan cheeses, even those that are available all year will change with the seasons depending on what the animals are eating.

With the clocks changing & daylight at a premium our bodies crave comfort foods and  as a stored product, cheese has always been an important winter protein source. Here are some of my favourites to turn to as the days close in.

Our own Gorwydd Caerphilly will increasingly be made with silage fed milk giving concentrated flavours & creaminess. The melting butteriness and mushroomy earthiness from the rind make it perfect for cheese on toast. Seek out a good sourdough loaf for the perfect snack.

Ogleshield is another great one for melting . Made by Jamie Montgomery of Cheddar fame, we use this  West Country Jersey milk cheese on our Raclette machines. However it also makes wonderfully rich Pommes Dauphinoise or pasta bake. Add a salad of winter greens and supper is done.

Ordinarily I would classify goat and sheep’s milk cheeses as late spring, early summer cheeses, when they first reappear after lambing or kidding, but Dorstone, an ash rolled goat cheese made by Charlie Westhead in Herefordshire has a meatiness at this time of year that satisfies. Look out for the Apricot and Cider chutney which will be paired with it at Christmas.

Everybody thinks of Stilton as Xmas draws near, but Stichelton, an unpasteurised blue cheese made by Joe Schneider on the Wellbeck Estate in Notts. is supreme in my opinion. The balance of sweet milk and salty blueing will win over any doubters.

Finally, Vacherin Mont d’Or was designed for winter eating. Made with milk from Alpine cattle who graze in high mountain pastures, these first become available around mid October until they run out in Feb/March. Trethowan’s carry one of the few hand made versions still available. Intended for high calorific intake to survive mountain winters it is a great sharing cheese. It can be baked in the box and scooped like a fondue.

So do your bit for the planet, turn down the heating and eat more cheese this winter.

Alex Te-Strote, Trethowan’s Dairy

Trethowan’s Dairy Shop

The Glass Arcade, St Nicholas Market, Bristol