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The Best of British - Introducing Fen Farm Dairy

June 7, 2019

The development of the menu for the new Rosewater Pavilion at The Championships, Wimbledon has seen our chefs travel the length and breadth of the country to bring our guests the very best produce from the British Isles.

In addition to the suppliers we revealed previously, we caught up with the friendly folk at Fen Farm Dairy to talk about their award-winning cheese that will be on offer to guests this July.

Our team of chefs recently headed down to the farm, which is right on the border of Suffolk and Norfolk, to help produce the actual cheese that will be enjoyed at The Championships.

Rob & James were involved in everything, from walking the cows to the milking parlour all the way to putting the final stamp on the finished product.

Making of the cheese

Our video at the bottom details this fascinating visit and introduces you to the concept of cheesemaking.

Meanwhile, we also interviewed the farm about how all this came about, including some of the finer details on the process.

 

How did the request for Wimbledon come about and what touches have you made to ensure its fit for The Championships?

We were approached by the team at Wimbledon as we are a family run British company, offering a very high-quality product that we oversee from the very beginning to the very end of the making process.  We invited the Executive Chefs from Wimbledon to visit us for the day to help make the cheese which will be served at The Championships.  They have been able to see our recipe, truly understand the process of making our cheese, and the important steps that our cheese must take even after leaving our farm.  They have got to know everything about our cheese and how to get the best out of it.

Explain to us as much as you can about the cheese that's on the menu in Rosewater Pavilion.

Baron Bigod is a traditional raw milk Brie-de-Meaux style cheese.  It is a creamy, white bloomy-rind cheese handmade on the farm by Jonny and the team, from our own raw Montbeliarde cow’s milk.  Using a traditional recipe passed on to us by a French cheese maker, our cheese is made by hand in small batches, very early in the morning with the raw milk still warm, straight from the cow at the perfect temperature for cheesemaking. The mould cultures are added to the warm morning’s milk and it is gently gravity fed into small vats just a few metres from the milking parlour, where the rennet is added. The curds are carefully hand-ladled into large moulds, using traditional pelle-a-brie ladles and the young cheeses are hand salted and then aged for up to eightweeks in a cave-like environment.

Tell us a bit more about the taste of the cheese and what it goes well with?

Our cheese has real character, a great depth of flavour and reflects the rich and lush flora of the Waveney Valley where our cows graze.  It has a smooth silky texture and a golden curd, with long lasting warm earth, farmyard and mushroom flavours.  It goes well with really good bread, a good side such as a spiced fig & pear chutney or spicy carrot relish and washed down with a glass of draft Cider or a good chilled wine.

Tell us about the story of Fen Farm. How did it all begin and how has it got to where it is now?

Fen Farm Dairy is a third-generation farm and was first owned by the Crickmore family by Graham’s Uncle, Richard Cook and older Sister, Joy.  Graham has been working on the farm since he was 8 years old and has dedicated his life to building a thriving dairy farm. Graham’s wife Frances is a self-taught wildlife photographer and has taken some stunning photos of our cheese and butter, and around the farm.

Jonny has been working with his father, Graham on the farm since the age of four, when he would sneak out of bed at 3am and follow him to the cowshed to help with the morning jobs. Jonny’s wife Dulcie, a costume designer, and Mum to their two children is instrumental in the marketing and business development at Fen Farm Dairy.

Together, Jonny and Dulcie have diversified the original farm with the addition of a pioneering cheese and butter making business with a strong focus on making exceptional artisan products and helping other dairy farmers on their journey to diversification.

We are growing fast and currently have just under 20 members of dedicated staff here at the farm, some part time and some full time who work with our land and herd, our cheese and butter, and in our farm office.  

What are Fen Farm’s greatest achievements? Who else have you produced cheese for before? Somebody mentioned Harry & Meghan’s wedding.

Baron Bigod cheese and Bungay Raw Butter have found their way into many prestigious places over the past few years, including the Royal breakfast of Prince Harry on his wedding day to Meghan Markle, the dinner table of the Beckhams, Wimbledon and the BA First Class menu.

We have enjoyed enormous success with our business and dairy products and have won many awards such as Best Raw Milk Cheese, Best Soft Cheese, Best Rural Manufacturing Business and are especially proud to have been awarded “Dairy Innovators of the Year 2018”!

You’re based in Suffolk but on the border of Norfolk. Tell us a bit about the region and why it’s great for British produce?

We are based in East Anglia which is a very rural region with lots of different soils and marshes and enjoys a generally warmer and slightly protected climate which is fantastic for our food production.  We are proud to be part of the Suffolk and Norfolk food scene which is really buzzing and has many different food producers who are pushing the boundaries, making great traditional foods from the East.

What sets apart Fen Farm from other dairy producers?

There aren’t many dairy food manufacturers who can make raw products as perfect as we can.  We can do this because we know and understand the soil, our terroir (as the French call it) which is truly unique from the Waveney Valley and cannot be replicated, the freshness and quality of our milk, which enables us to use the very best product for making our cheese and butter.  We oversee the whole process from field to fork which not many food producers can do.

Our cheese is made by hand in small batches, very early in the morning so that we can use the raw milk still warm, straight from the cow at the perfect temperature for cheesemaking. The mould cultures are added to the warm morning’s milk and it is gently gravity fed into small vats just a few metres from the milking parlour, where the rennet is added. The strongest cultures in the family that we use are penicillin candidum and geotricum. The curds are carefully hand-ladled into large moulds, using traditional pelle-a-brie ladles and the young cheeses are hand salted and then aged for up to 8 weeks in a cave-like environment.

Milk is a very fragile substance and can easily be damaged by splashing, pumping and haulage. Damaged milk makes poor quality cheese, which is why we treat our milk with the utmost care and respect, keeping its delicate cells and fat molecules intact. This is what gives our cheese its smooth, delicate and silky texture and complex, long lasting flavours that bounce around the mouth.

Anything else that you want our customers to know?

We love finding and making great foods from around the World, and using the very best recipes for our brie style cheese and butter from France and our Skyr yogurt from Iceland.

 

Video

 

Learn more about the Rosewater Pavilion

 It's the latest in a fine selection of hospitality experiences at The Championships, Wimbledon. Learn more here.

Wimbledon

 

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