In 2008, having recently become the new owners of Village Cheese House, we were still working with the former owner's vision for the business (a selection heavily slanted toward all things European), and we'd not fully developed the vision we have today which is focused almost entirely on the American cheese movement and specialty foods produced locally. At that time one of my buddies, a Welsh woman named Angela, asked if I could bring Caerphilly cheese into our store. It's her favorite and she hadn't been able to find it anywhere on the Peninsula. Because we were still ordering a significant amount of European cheeses, I didn't see any reason not to give it a try. Unfortunately for me, I wasn't familiar with the cheese so when my distributor brought me a snow-white, semi-soft, rind-less wheel I accepted delivery and promptly called Angela to let her know the cheese was in. She graciously bought a fairly large piece and ultimately I sold about half of the wheel. But it was clearly not a popular one with our customers, and personally I thought it was freakin' horrible! I never said a word to Angela about my thoughts on the cheese, and she never said anything to me when I failed to re-order it.
Fast forward to spring of 2009. I'm attending the 3-day intensive at the SF cheese school and Daphne introduces me to Caerphilly from Neal's Yard (can't remember if it was Gorwydd or Duckett's), and I'm blown away - not to mention completely embarrassed by the utterly pathetic excuse for cheese I offered Angela one year previously. Ugh. The problem is that by the time I realized my mistake, we had already begun to shift our counter to be more in-line with our American cheese vision, which means Duckett's Caerphilly would no longer be a good fit for us. Shoot!
Fast forward again to March, 2010 and the Sonoma Cheese Conference. Jack Dean hands me a big hunk of a cheese being aged at The Cellars at Jasper Hill called Landaff that he's been wanting me to try. That night at home when I took my first nibble of Landaff, I was transported back to the day I tried real Caerphilly. And once again I'm blown away. I've said this before, and I'll probably say it a thousand times more: as far as cheese is concerned, Europe's got nothing on us! Landaff, made in New Hampshire at Landaff Creamery is a raw cow's milk cheese inspired by Duckett's Caerphilly. In fact Landaff's creator, Doug Erb, based his recipe off of one he learned from Chris Duckett & Jemima Cordle (makers of Duckett's Caerphilly).
From the fresh, tangy flavor to the buttery texture and cave-aged rind, Landaff delivers the type of awesome cheese experience I'm sure my friend Angela was hoping for (but didn't have) two years ago. I can't wait for her to come into the store so I can redeem myself! Thank you Landaff Creamery for once again reaffirming what I know to be true: American Cheese-makers rock!