Explore the following contribution to 'Stories within Our Isles' by Angus D. Birditt, who shares an extract from his travels across the British Isles, exploring the wonders of the British cheese culture and one particular special place in the South West.
It seems as though I have been swimming in a pool of farmhouse cheese for the last few years. Each day I write, photograph, sample, learn, and sample again, all about the fascinating and impressive grassroots cheese culture in the British Isles, one that is deeply entwined to place, people and animal. Moreover, it is a celebration of farming, an expression of land and its soil.
Over the course of writing my recent book, A Portrait of British Cheese, one place I found myself visiting on countless occasions, sampling their edible delights again and again, was Westcombe in Somerset, home to Westcombe Dairy. Situated in a small nook of a valley (combe or coombe in the local dialect) just outside Shepton Mallet, Westcombe Dairy is a world of artisan goodness, producing farmhouse cheeses, small-batched charcuterie and heritage wheat, the latter grown on the farm for their sister venture, Landrace Bakery in Bath. The enterprise is run by a talented team, headed by Tom Calver. It is a place of innovation, farmhouse staples, and with one of the most charming on-site shops I've seen on my travels, it's well worth a visit if you're in the South West area.
Words & Photographs by Angus D. Birditt