Marcus Fergusson at Felthams Farm has started making a delcious organic cheese called “Renegade Monk” Now read on.
Marcus Fergusson (who is married to Penny Nagle down on Horsington Marsh) has converted the old Marsh Meadows nursery school at Feltham’s Farm into a thriving organic cheese business.
Marcus says: “I’ve always been obsessed with cheese and making my own cheese seemed a logical (if financially precarious) step. I spent much of last year training as a cheese maker at Bath Soft Cheese, while developing and testing my own recipe. Construction work on the cheese room and maturing room started in the Autumn and was completed in the New Year. There were also a lot of regulatory hoops to jump through before I was cleared to sell my cheese to the public – so at least everyone will know that it is safe!
“Our smallholding is too, well, small for us to milk our own herd. Instead, I am buying in organic cow’s milk from Bruton Dairy (who supply Godminster cheese as well). The whey from the cheese making ( a by-product) is then used to feed our pigs: they seem to like it, we had 22 piglets last weekend!
“The first cheese I’m launching is called Renegade Monk. It’s a soft, blue cheese (but not that blue) – and the exterior of the cheese is then rubbed with beer every couple of days, to encourage the growth of friendly cultures and moulds on the surface that soften and sweeten the cheese and deepen the colour of the rind. The beer comes from the Milk Street Brewery in Frome – so, what with the milk coming from Bruton, this is definitely a homegrown Somerset cheese!
“Rubbing the cheeses with alcohol is known as rind-washing, a process employed by monasteries across Europe since the Middle Ages – hence the ‘Monk’ in the cheese’s name. However, the addition of blue (from a mould called Penicillium Roquefortii) and various other techniques I am using makes this cheese something of a hybrid – hence ‘Renegade’.
“In terms of taste, think of a Cambozola (itself a hybrid between Camembert and Gorgonzola) – but then imagine the outside of a Vacherin or Epoisses. To the uninitiated, it might look slightly alarming – but fear not, its bark is worse than its bite!
“I will be selling Renegade Monk at the Frome Food Assembly every Wednesday evening and from April at the farmers’ markets in Poundbury and Bridport (Somerset Farmers’ Markets are full for the moment). However, some local shops and delis have expressed an interest, so I hope it will be available closer to home very soon. And, if you’re really keen to try/buy some, just stop me and ask (if you know me – or even if you don’t) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love your support”.
This looks fabulous. Look forward to seeing on the menu at the Half Moon and the White Horse. Local landlords take note -Ed