Cheese is a funny thing. The way we appreciate a fine cheese rather goes against the grain. Mould makes it more marvellous and the worse it smells the better it is. That’s how I knew the Cygnet cheese from The Marlow Cheese Co. was going to be a corker; it ticks both boxes.
I’ve never tried a lactic cheese before, that’s the category of cheese the Marlow company’s debut effort falls under. It’s hard to describe as it’s got the consistency of a cream cheese or soft goat’s cheese but only when it’s young, and the slightly acidic, light citrus tang warms into a deeper, more complex flavour as it matures. Made with very little rennet, the lactic cheese is a good place to start for a new-comer. And that’s certainly how you could describe Lynda Hill her fledgling cheese experiment. What began in only August this year, has quickly developed into a firm venture. On her first outing, Lynda was bowled over when the head chef at Bovingdon Green’s Royal Oak described her cheese as “stunning” and after only 4 months of trading or there-abouts, Lynda has found her Cygnet on the cheese plate at Tom Kerridge’s The Hand and Flowers in Marlow.
After a course at The School of Artisan Food Lynda followed up with further training and learning, eventually setting up a small cheese factory in her Marlow home. Now Lynda makes her own hand-turned, artisanal lactic soft cheese called Cygnet. Using Lacey’s reputable, 100% Guernsey milk, Lynda produces small batches of 100-200 cheeses in her small but very high-end facility.
Small holders and artisan food makers are slowly reclaiming their presence in the market and it’s local heroes like Lynda who deserve this kind of success. Having spent a life in fairly ordinary jobs in sales and customer service, a health turn for the worse made Lynda take stock of her life and follow her nose. With plenty of hard work, continual learning, development and an admirable commitment to her product, she has managed to create a truly unique British cheese.
If you’d like to give the gift of cheese this Christmas and support local food heroes like the Marlow Cheese Co – you can find Lynda and the gang at Maidenhead Farmers Market on Sunday 11th December and then for a final stall of 2016 at Beaconsfield Farmers Market on 17th December.