Tag Archives: Ribblesdale Cheese goat curd

Better Late Than Never

Hello blog peeps – sorry, it has been a long time!  But a belated Happy New Year to everyone reading this and I will try harder to blog more frequently.

A lot has happened!  A new year, 2015!  I am sure, though this could be showing my age, that when I was little, 2015 seemed such a long time away that it was almost space ageish, but here we are.

Award winning goat curd

Award winning goat curd

A quick recap of the second half of last year saw us winning another gold at Nantwich for our goat curd, making it two golds on the trot for two years, of which we are very proud.  One of our new cheeses (Gouda Gold) won three gold stars, got into the Top 50 at the Great Taste Awards and were put forward for the Golden Fork award.  I was invited – and went- to the award ceremony dinner in London.  It was very swish and a massive honour and I made a new cheesey friend: Sarah also a goat cheese specialist who owns and runs a Shropshire based cheese making firm called Brockhall Farm.  I also discovered that Wholefoods, High St Ken stock our cheese as I was staying close by and wandered in for a look at the cheese counter.  We picked up a few new customers which is always a good thing and I have been out and about on the road a fair bit.

We now make four natural rinded cheeses, two goat, one sheep and an unpasteurised Wensleydale.  Part way through the year, our landlords Phil and Amanda sold our unit to another landlord.  Nothing has changed, just a change of ownership, life goes on and business is as usual.  I went to meet our new landlord yesterday, taking the train from Ribblehead Station, which is my nearest station on the Settle to Carlisle line.

About the same time I started to blog less, I started tweeting which rather took my attention away from blogging, which is a bit a of a shame and I do feel bad about

Train from Ribblehead to Leeds yesterday, 22nd Jan

Train from Ribblehead to Leeds yesterday, 22nd Jan

it.  Then new label regs came in which has been very tedious!  And then we were audited, only we weren’t,cos it was called off at the eleventh hour, it was a fair bit of work, though on the plus side, it did make me tighten up some of our procedures.  For example, we now test all of our milk deliveries for antibiotics instead of replying solely on supplier assurances.  Stu bought a new Android phone and I followed suit, not that I know how to use it.  And Pipsqueak, Stu’s dog has a new microwaveable pillow for the winter and is, as I type, tucked up under a puffa jacket and on top of her nice, warm pillow.  I checked, they don’t make them big enough for pigs.  Penny and Snouter are both completely fine and well, though more than a little bored with the weather.

In November, I went down to London to help at Brytec’s stand (our equipment suppliers) who were exhibiting at the Farm Business Innovation show, Olympia.  If we had been either hot tub purveyors or gypsy caravan makers, I think we would have done a roaring trade.

We have been plagued with problems with our forklift and eventually, a couple of weeks ago, this January, we ‘forked’ out for a completely new set of batteries for it and now it is happy again and working really well.  It is amazing what you use forks for!  Lifting milk, shifting pallets of cheese about, taking pallet deliveries of boxes and wax  off wagons and so on.

This January has been a ‘let’s buy’ month.  As well as getting the forks fixed, I have bought new blue cheese cloths, more goat curd pots, more boxes, more weight ticket labels, more wax and attempted to buy more moulds, but our moulds have been discontinued and the newer version (we received a sample) are too deep and don’t press well.

This was the beginning of the snow in January 2015

This was the beginning of the snow in January 2015

Christmas happened, came and went and then snow, which has been very trying and not fun at all.  But we had a good trading Christmas, thank goodness and although Januarys’ are known to be fairly dull, it’s not been too bad for us so far.

Two of our cheese class alumni have gone into commercial production: Simon at Weardale Cheese and Chloe from Halifax.  Congratulations to the pair of you – am very proud of you both and hope 2015 brings you all that you wish for.

There are some cheese class dates for Feb to April here.

Wishing everyone fantastic things for 2015!

Iona

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A Nice Article About Us in the Darlington & Stockton Times

A very nice article about us by Betsy Everett, a freelance journalist who coincidentally lives in the same village as Stu.  Click here for the on-line version:

The ‘other’ cheese firm is worth tracking down

2:57pm Friday 13th September 2013 in Weekend

TEAMWORK: Left to right, Stuart, Iona and Andrew get down to workTEAMWORK: Left to right, Stuart, Iona and Andrew get down to work

Betsy Everett vists the smaller of two Wensleydale creameries – the Ribblesdale Cheese Company

THERE are two cheese-making factories in Hawes and one of them is so small I can’t even find it, tucked away as it is at the back of an industrial estate in the Wensleydale market town.

Suddenly, a door opens in what looks like a not-verylarge green shed and I’m hailed by a third of the workforce, Stuart Gatty.

“Come in. Welcome!” he calls, with a geniality born of many years in the pub trade in the North-East and the Dales, until he found his true calling at the Ribblesdale Cheese Company.

Stuart’s love for the job shines through in his enthusiasm to explain the technicalities of scalding and pasteurisation and base cultures and volumes and all the other things associated with the making of goats’ cheese. And that’s before I’ve even clapped eyes on the boss, Iona Hill.

Iona has a friendly smile, a firm handshake, and a steely glint in her eye as she confirms that, yes, there are indeed two cheesemakers in Hawes.

“And we are one of them,”

she says, quite firmly. She doesn’t add “… and proud of it,” but that’s the unspoken message from the managing director of this small artisan company.

The friends up the road make more cheese in a week than she makes in a year. They have a turnover of £25m per annum to her – well, considerably less. They have more than 200 employees at their sites in Hawes and Kirkby Malzeard. She has three: Stuart, part-timer Andrew Todd, and herself. The creamery makes the world-famous Wensleydale cheese from cows’ milk, she specialises in the not-so-famous, but very desirable, Ribblesdale goats’ cheese.

“Don’t get me wrong. We get on well. I just want people to know there’s somebody else making cheese in Wensleydale.

There’s room for two of us,”

she says with a smile.

The company was founded in 1978 when her uncle, Iain Hill, “a bluff, eccentric Yorkshireman,” bought a farm near Ribblehead with his redundancy money.

“His original business plan didn’t work so when his mother gave him more money and told him to do something useful, he went out and bought two goats.

She was incandescent. But they were in-kid, and eventually he started making goats’ cheese.”

As he was dying in 2006, Iain called his much-loved niece and asked her to visit and value the business for sale. A chartered accountant, Iona at that time spent her working-life travelling the world advising big businesses on finance and strategy for companies like Coutts, Deutsche Bank and Deloitte Touche.

“I was about to get on the plane and head for Dubai to work on a major project. Six months later I had bought Iain’s farmhouse and the business which by then was no longer making its own cheese. In 2008, I started to make the cheese on these premises.”

She sells mainly to wholesalers – packaging for supermarkets would be too labour-intensive on an already expensive product, though the northern chain, Booth’s, with a cutting counter, are a notable exception.

Elijah Allen’s of Hawes, always keen to support local suppliers, and Campbell’s of Leyburn, also take Ribblesdale’s unique cheeses.

The company has recently enjoyed notable successes, a three gold-star rating at the 2013 Great Taste Awards – the most rigorously-judged food awards in the UK – for its matured, natural-rinded goats’ cheese, and a gold star for the original goats’ and original sheep’s brand.

They have also taken gold, bronze and a highly-commended in the International Cheese Awards 2013.

It wasn’t long before Fortnum and Mason were on the phone from London, and then Bettys of Harrogate, each wanting to stock the Ribblesdale produce.

“It’s a fantastic achievement for the whole company. All three of us,” says Iona.

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