Day 56-Cornish Yarg


I’m still a little traumatized about yesterday’s cheese, Stinking Bishop.  I met my match at last-but they say the best thing to do after you fall off that bike is to get back on again.  Thus, here I am, Boxing Day morning in Powell River, cheese at my side.  It’s important to not let these cheese setbacks scar you.  Yes, there will be heinous cheeses out there, but if you stop eating cheese every time you taste one, you might be stuck in an endless hell of mozzarella, so be brave, push on (this is my superego speaking.)

Today I m sampling Cornish Yarg, which is perhaps one of the best cheese names yet.  Although you could understandably assume that this was an ancient Cornish name and cheese, actually, it’s a newish cheese from Britain,  invented in the 1970’s by the Gray family.  Guess what Gray is backwards?  Yarg.  Oh these jokers! This cheese was specifically created to try to capture a Cornish character in cheese, and bring back a type of cheese no longer in production.  The makers actually reached back to a thirteenth century cheese recipe to make yarg-it’s kind of a hybrid cheddar and  Caerphilly, wrapped in nettles.   Truly, nettle wrapped cheese isn’t new either, it’s been around in one form or another since the 16th century. This organic Saran wrapping of cheese all but died out during the last century, so although  it is a new cheese, it’s also a taste of the past.

This cheese is extremely cool looking as it’s wrapped in nettles before maturing.  The nettles form a kind of leafy coating on the cheese.    Nettles are actually quite a nutrient rich food, when we were hippies we used to eat them all the time, and I still do get a hankering from them from time to time. I am pleased to see that both my love of nettles and cheese might be fulfilled simultaneously! Apparently the nettles actually have an integral role here, acting as a preservative and also imparting their nettle taste.  This cheese is also sprayed with a mould on the surface and I suspect that this, just as much as the nettles might have something to do with the taste.  The nettles are gathered from their local area farms and hedgerows throughout the year and then frozen in preparation for the wrapping of the cheese.  They also make a garlic version wrapped in garlic leaves.  Don’t freak out, the freezing kills all the sting!

The Lynher dairies are the  only makers of this cheese, it is only made in Cornwall and from the milk of Friesen cows.  Despite this limited production, it’s a popular cheese with fans around the world. Yarg is a pasteurized cow’s milk cheese that is semi-hard and crumbly, it’s a young cheese aged from 3 weeks to 2 months only. The dairy has its own website where it introduces its cows by name stating , “meet our team.”  Sweet. These cows are grass-fed only and graze right alongside the dairy that makes the cheese, no transportation costs here. These folks look pretty organized, they even have a visitor centre and a great website explaining the cheese making step by step-and refreshingly, in English!

My little slice of Cornish Yarg has suffered in travelling, but it’s not the poor cheeses fault.  It’s really crumbled apart.  The nettle wrap is there, but I don’t think I’m going to eat it after hearing it is sprayed with mould, I mean, I’m an open-minded girl, but that crosses the line for me.  It’s a very white cheese and it actually smells very much like feet.  I know I have said cheese smells foot-like before, but this one actually and truly smells like a teenage gym sock  collection.  I’m a little surprised at such a gnarly smell in  a dry cheese matured somewhere for only 3 weeks to two months. It seems a little out of place.

Here goes…

Well the smell is definitely bigger than the bite.  It’s actually relatively mild, tangy and salty. It’s a benign little cheese, especially after all that reek and nettle.  It’s overly salty for me, with no hint of sweet or of ammonia, or of nettles for that matter, which is a shame.  It’s really just a little salty crumbly footy thing.  The texture reminds me of the Keen’s cheddar, that crumbly hard cheese mouth feel that’s quite nice, but a bit of a challenge to think of serving to guests-a hard cheese that crumbles needs to be thought out.  While I do appreciate the look and the idea of this cheese, it’s not doing much for me-it’s the taste in the end-a  little insipid, and just not enough “wow” for me to purchase it again.