Beautiful Hafod, meaning “summer pasture” in Welsh (and pronounced HAVE-od), is made on the oldest registered organic farm in Wales, Bwlchwernen Fawr (and we’re not even going to try to explain how to pronounce that on Instagram). True to their heritage and to the cheese’s name, Holden Farm Dairy puts extraordinary care into what its cows eat: home-grown organic grasses, herbs, and other wild plants, even in winter—the farm dries and preserves its summer forage to make up the bulk of their winter silage.
Their herd of Ayrshire cows, a breed known for its hardiness, is particularly well suited for the hilly coastal landscape and climate of West Wales—not to mention that Ayrshires were first bred in Scotland specifically for cheesemaking. Their milk has a higher percentage of protein and fat and is naturally homogenized, translating to a cheese with a rich, luxurious texture and mouthfeel—very distinct from the crumblier, drier cheddars you’ll find elsewhere.
The farm began its cheesemaking practice as Holden Farm Dairy in the late 2000s, with an Alpine-style recipe as its starting point. But the recipe has changed considerably since then, beginning with the discovery of a classic 1917 British cheddar-making manual whose methods the family adapted to bring the cheese closer to its regional roots. Even today, there’s a culture of experimentation and innovation at Holden Farm Dairy, with their herdsmen and cheesemakers constantly testing out different methods and materials to improve their final product.
So what does the cheese actually taste like? Thanks to a long, slow acidification process, it’s a mellower, deeper flavor than the tangy, bright cheddars of Somerset, still earthy but with a pronounced nutty quality. This is a cheddar that seems subtle at first, but it’s a gradual reveal, slowly unfurling complex, layered flavors. Try it with a savory, earthy complement, like @americanspoon Pumpkin Seed Salsa and rye crackers, or bring out its sweetness with @dardimans Pineapple Fruit Crisps. But it’s worth noting that Hafod is very much a cheddar to be savored all on its own—a hunk of farm bread and a pint of ale are all you really need.