What we need at this point in the year is versatility, a cheese equally suited for eating in the now-uncomfortable 85-degree heat as it is for brisk rainy days. For such fickle times as these, it makes me glad that a cheese exists like Landaff, from Landaff Creamery and Jasper Hill Farm.
Landaff is one of those rare gems that pairs with anything you put next to it—especially in the beer department. If that chilly rain tickles the need for a chocolatey, high-alcohol stout, then Landaff is your cheese. Want a nice bright Hefeweizen for those days that seem like a kickback to the summer months? Landaff slides in perfectly.
Landaff’s trademark creaminess, sharpness, and mild nuttiness allows it to effectively pair with any beer. It’s one of those cheeses that seems to change each time you eat it, while maintaining the same feel and daring character. What at first seems to be a fairly simple cheese, Landaff definitely brings a diversity of flavor.
Tracing it back to its roots, Landaff was actually crafted based on the Welsh recipes of the 1800s. Miners in the rocky hills of the ancient land needed a sturdy cheese with a short maturation time to help tide them through a grueling day’s work. This cheese was meant to have a quick turnover; while most cheddars were aged in excess of six to eight months, Landaff only required approximately four months. What’s more, it was also meant to be convenient, because the rind allowed the cheese to be eaten without washing one’s hands in the mines.
When I first learned of the Welsh origin of Landaff, I was surprised. I draw most of my background and identity from that area, though my family on both sides have long identified as American, and the only truly strong tie comes from my last name, Myrick (also occasionally spelled Merrick or Meuric among dozens of other variations). Of the true Welsh cheeses in the United States, I have only managed to get my hands on the good old Welsh Red Dragon and a rather suspicious looking slice of Caerphilly Gorwydd. Discovering Landaff’s Welsh roots was an absolute treat for me—one can uncover and understand much about a place by its food.
And in truth, Landaff, although American, shows much of the original Welsh spirit—hardy, versatile, and good with any beer you put in front of it! As fall cascades around us, I certainly know what I will be munching: beer in one hand, cheese in the other.