It was Open Farm Sunday at the weekend and we were among the Sussex food and drink producers that took part at Cockhaise Farm’s Open Farm event. The farm is less than a mile from the Dairy, as the crow flies, and is where we source our organic cow milk from to make cheeses like Tremains Organic.
The Open Farm Sunday initiative was launched in 2006 by the charity LEAF, Linking Environment and Farming, and is designed to show people first-hand what it means to be a farmer. Hundreds of farms up and down the country open their gates and welcome the public in for this year’s event on Sunday, 10th June. Cockhaise Farm has taken part for a number of years and this year’s event offered visitors the chance to tour the farm and see some of their 240-strong herd, sheep being sheared and to join tractor rides around the farm.
Sussex food and drink in the spotlight
Other Sussex food and drink producers at the event included Sussex Chefs and Caroline’s Dairy. There were around 900 visitors to Cockhaise Farm on the day – including a camera crew from Meridian TV who interviewed Mark! You might have spotted him on the evening news talking about the importance of giving people an understanding of where their food comes from. In addition to giving people a chance to taste the cheese that we make from Cockhaise milk, we also ran a competition asking people to guess how many litres of milk go in to making a 3.640kg wheel of Tremains Organic cheese. The answer? 34.58 litres! Our lucky winner was Ree Woodward (pictured above with Mark) who won a hamper of cheese.
A great event for a good cause
Entrants to our competition were asked to make a donation to the event’s charity partner, The Bevern Trust. The Trust is a Sussex-based disability charity which supports young adults with profound learning disabilities. Take a look at the Farmers’ Markets and Shows pages to see other events we’ll be selling cheese at this summer.
Do you make your own cheese or would you like to? We are pleased to be sponsoring a cheese-making competition at the Coleman’s Hatch Flower Show in July. The competition is open to amateur cheese makers and will give them the chance to have their cheese tasted and critiqued by the experts. It’s perfect for those who have been on our one-day cheese making course which teaches all the skills needed for people to make their own cheeses at home.
You might have a cheese already maturing that you would like to enter, or you might like the chance to put skills learned on the course to the test as you make a new one. The closing date for entries to the cheese-making competition is Wednesday July 25th ahead of judging which takes place at the show on Saturday July 28th leaving plenty of time for harder cheeses to mature.
Entering the cheese-making competition
Whether it’s your first time making cheese or you consider yourself a bit of an expert, the competition should be a good fun way to compare your wares against other amateur cheese makers, to share your skill and perhaps to win a prize! Cheeses will be judged by High Weald Dairy cheese makers and the best from the five classes will be awarded the Supreme Champion Trophy. See below for the competition rules.
Cheeses can be entered in five classes as follows:
1. Soft Cheese Plain
2. Soft Cheese with additives
3. Hard Cheese
4. Blue Cheese
5. The People’s Favourite
The cheese-making competition is one of a number of competitions that take place at Coleman’s Hatch Flower Show, an annual event which has taken place for decades in the village of Coleman’s Hatch. It’s just a few miles from the High Weald Dairy and within the Ashdown Forest and the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The show is, of course, centred on home-grown flowers and plants with classes for vegetables, fruit and lots more. There are also competitions for children and a range of activities on the day.
Cheesemakers can enter more than one class and can enter more than one cheese in each class.
Each entry for class 1 – 4 should provide a portion of cheese, no less than 200g.
Entry for Class 5, should be a minimum of 500g as the public will taste and vote on the cheese.
Cost of entry is £ 1.00 for each cheese entered for each class. Please pay be cheque or enquire for BACS details.
Entry forms are available to download from the flower show website downloads page.
Forms must be returned by Wednesday July 25th, 2018 to: SHEPHERDS GATE FARM, Coleman’s Hatch TN7 4HR or by email to email@example.com
Entries (cheeses) will be received on Saturday July 28th, 2018 by 10 am; which is the day of judging.
We are always pleased to see our cheeses being used on local restaurant and pub menus – either as an ingredient or as part of a British or Sussex cheese board. One place we’re particularly proud to have an association with is the restaurant at nearby Gravetye Manor, where a focus on seasonal local produce has helped win it a Michelin Star.
But in January the tables were turned when, instead of cheese being taken the seven short miles from the High Weald Dairy to the kitchen at Gravetye, the kitchen came to visit the cheese!
The restaurant at Gravetye is currently closed (until May 2018) for an extensive remodelling which has given the chefs a chance to go out and visit some of their local suppliers to learn more about the produce they use. We were happy to be among the places selected and hosted a team of 16 chefs, led by Head Chef George Blogg, on a half-day visit.
Head Cheese Maker Chris Heyes showed the chefs around the Dairy and took them through the process of making Brighton Blue. The chefs were then welcomed to our Sussex cheese school to make mozzarella with Mark before a tasting of six of our cheeses.
Championing local produce
Head Chef George said: “It was an incredible experience. To be able to go around and see, from start to finish, the process of making Brighton Blue was fantastic. It’s such a great blue cheese.
“We want to champion things that are extremely regional, as long as they are good enough, so using produce from the High Weald Dairy makes complete sense. Our guests come to us because there’s a level of quality they expect and they want to eat things that are local and regional.”
George said the whole experience has given all the chefs a better understanding of the cheese we produce and has also fuelled their imaginations and given new ideas which may start appearing on the menus when the restaurant re-opens in May.
He said: “Something we are going to try and do is make some light curd with our guests at the table. Without going to the Dairy and seeing and talking to Mark I wouldn’t have the knowledge or experience to be able to do that.”
Sussex cheese on the move
In fact, shortly after the visit George was championing Sussex cheese alongside produce from Gravetye’s own impressive kitchen garden at the gastronomic event – Obsession. This international festival of food sees a different chef take over the kitchen at the Northcote Hotel in Lancashire every night for 18 nights in a showcase of talent from around the world. The chefs are challenged to create a unique menu for their night and we were thrilled to learn that George used cow’s curd from the High Weald Dairy in his first course which centres around celeriac grown at Gravetye.
If you would like to try some of George and his team’s inventive menus you can make reservations on Gravetye Manor’s website where you will also find more information about the new restaurant they are building. Look out for High Weald Dairy cheeses on the menu. They are often used as an ingredient in recipes like George’s lunch menu starter of Heritage Garden Beetroot Salad with High Weald Dairy Cow’s Curd, which he has been kind enough to share with us. Our St Giles and Brighton Blue cheeses are also fairly firm fixtures on the local Sussex cheese selection or their Best of British selection.
If you like the sound of the chefs’ experience at High Weald Dairy, why not book yourself a place on our one-day cheese-making course at our Sussex cheese school where you will get the chance to tour the dairy and will have the chance to learn how to make cheese at home?