A permanent presence at Borough Market, and my local Islington farmer’s market, the Bath Soft Cheese Company are a stall to behold. They keep things simple, boasting four varieties of very, very good (all organic) cheese. At markets as big as Borough, it’s easy to be overwhelmed (or satiated) by the amount of cheese on offer; from Swiss to French, the options are indeed endless. Though cheese, in all its forms are a welcome sight, there is something charming about the minimalism of the Bath Soft Cheese display. Here, you will not find elaborate stacks and gaudy signage, but rather neat rows of the goods themselves. At Bath Soft Cheese, the cheese speaks for itself.
The Padfield family have run their farm in Somerset for three generations, with the cheese being made in the same buildings where Lillian Padfield made cheese at the turn of the twentieth century. The original recipe for Bath soft cheese dates back to the beginning of the nineteenth century, where it was even coveted by Admiral Lord Nelson himself. It certainly has all the marks of a small, family run business, fuelled by a passion for their product. I ask Laurence, their market trader at my local farmer’s market in Islington, what her favourite thing about the cheese is: “It is made with love”, she remarks in her musical French lilt. It is the family’s clear love for what they do, that makes the cheese the excellent product it is. And it’s true; often my best kitchen exports are those made when feeling relaxed and in a ‘dash of this, pinch of that’ type mood. It is when I am flustered and anxious to impress, that the food often disappoints. A friend told me once that in certain sombre moods, her bread making expeditions result in a flat loaf. Once the bread rises again, she knows the cloud has passed. I don’t think we can underestimate the effect we can have on the food we make. At Bath Soft Cheese the theory rings true.
But now, the cheese itself:
The cheese which lends its name to the entire affair is one of the creamiest, silkiest brie-like cheeses, I have ever tasted. This square piece of heaven is hugged protectively by a white rind, which when cut, reveals the heavenly mess inside.
I like to simply enjoy this cheese with some good, crispy baguette, some crunchy greens and a tomato or two.
A larger version of Bath Soft, its round shape makes it suitable to cut into wedges. Named after the parks where the Bath Soft Cheese herds graze, this version is a smooth and creamy delight. The longer ripening process serves to intensify the flavours, and therefore heighten its euphoric potential.
I have witnessed many an amicable pairing of this soft cheese with figs, grapes or any seasonal fruit of your fancy.
Wyfe of Bath
Taking its name from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, this gouda-like cheese is both creamy and nutty. It’s also suitable for vegetarians.
A semi-hard cheese, it is delectable with some sweet relish or a punchy, onion chutney; let your taste-buds lead the way.
Ah Bath Blue; the cheese on permanent residency in my kitchen. I have a weak spot for blue cheese, and this to me, is the perfect one. It reaches those creamy depths but still manages to peak into stilton-esque territory. ,
I dare you not to nibble this one in greedy intervals, standing at the fridge. If you do get as far as sitting position, suitably armed with eating utensils, I love it on some warm brown bread, with Isle of Wight Oak Smoked Tomatoes. You are welcome.
The Bath Soft Cheese Company offers tours of their dairy, where you will also find their beautiful cafe and cheese shop. They can be found at Borough Market and many of the London Farmers Markets. Their full list of retailers can be found on their website.