Sweet dreams are made of cheese
by Camilla - foodaroundblog
Roger Crudge has a big heart, as much as a form of cheese. In Kingham, at the Alex James’s (Blur bassist) great farm, which each year hosts The Big Festival, Roger has a dairy where every day with patience and passion produces different kinds of cheese.
Even if his childhood dream was to become a car racer, his destiny is written in the DNA, or rather, in his last “Crudge” which, as he explains to me, in Middle English means cheese: therefore he had to become someone involved in cheese affaires for sure!
With great enthusiasm and hospitality Roger greets me and my husband when we get in his laboratory during an afternoon of a completely unconventional wedding anniversary! No candle-light dinner or such things but a milky smell room and the smile of this big man who starts telling about his passion. After a brief spell in Devon, where he learned the art of making cheese, Roger, his wife Karen and their four daughters moved in Oxfordshire where in 2007 he began his business. He makes artisan cheeses using milk from 3 local farms. Cow, sheep and goat milk are used to make different kind of cheese. Goat cheese is the one in processing during our visit so we can assist in that procedure: while the milk is resting in the tank waiting for the curd, Roger shows us his dairy, the tanks for salting cheese, cold rooms in varying degrees of temperature, calibrated according to the length of the aging period and the types of cheese.
Roger is an experimenter: he loves to try new variations of cheese, adding spices or herbs such as thyme, fennel seeds, rosemary, or the smell of beer to flavor his product. He also loves to travel, in particular in Europe (Spain and the Alps) where, comparing with other cheesemakers, constantly evolves his art and mastery. England, as he tells us, lost most of his dairy tradition because of government restrictions that have historically favored the decline of local producers. Now, the rediscovery of the dairy art and the commitment and passion of people like Roger has led to a new era in this field.
His specialities are “Kingham Green” which is a Cotswold Tomme, a Gruyere- textured cheese with a strong flavour; “Haddon Gold” is a softer and slightly more acidic, so has more “bite”; “Moreton d’Or” and “Revolution” are rind-washed cheeses made with the same jersey cows milk. “Sarsden” and “Titcomb” are sheeps cheeses, again gruyere-like in texture, but with the delicate and slightly fruity/sweet flavour of sheeps milk. Aveton is creamy, almond tasting goat cheese. Even halloumi, which he sells at a restaurant in Covent Garden in London .. “the most boring to prepare!” he says.
Its products can also be found in farmers’ markets in Oxfordshire: Wolvercote in Oxford, Chipping Norton and Deddington , where I usually go to buy them, and where you can meet Roger and his wife Karen explaining their cheese.
“What is a secret to make this work?” “Patience, a great dose of patience”, he says. “The milk has its time to turn into cheese, you need to wait.” But I can’t wait to go home to taste a piece of cheese that Roger has generously offered..