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I first discovered Y- Fenni some years ago in a delicatessen on one of our monthly trips to Doncaster and being a lover of cheese couldn't resist buying some to try, along with a few others I hadn't tasted before.
Imagine my delight when I spotted some on the deli counter in my local Tesco a few weeks ago and unable to resist the temptation, I quickly popped some in my trolley.
Y - Fenni (sometimes called Red Dragon) is a Welsh cheese and takes its name from the town where it is made, that's Abergavenny to us English.
Made with pasteurised cow's milk, which is curdled with vegetarian rennet, it is then mixed with Welsh ale and mustard grains; pressed into moulds then wrapped in a protective wax. Y- Fenni's wax coating is a very pale yellow in colour The Red Dragon's wax, as you may have guessed is red although I haven't seen this version for sale anywhere as yet.
A whole cheese measures 12 inches in diameter with a depth of 4 inches, although I believe smaller ones are made too.
The piece I bought weighed 0.190kg and was priced at £1.46 had been cut and packed in store, It also carried a use by date of 7days, which leads me to believe it doesn't contain any nasty preservatives, unlike the pre packed types of cheese who's use by date is usually a couple of months.
It certainly smells of mustard, but any aroma of ale is far less subtle. A pale yellow in colour, much paler than it looks in the picture, the dark brown mustard grains that are clearly visible, speckle this cheese throughout.
Having a delectable creamy and almost buttery taste the mustard grains add a lovely warm tanginess to this humble piece of mature cheddar cheese. The flavour from the ale is noticeable, but by no means overpowering. The texture of this cheese makes it perfect for use in cooking too as it melts beautifully, without having that greasy feel, taste or look like some cheddars tend to have.
I personally enjoy biting into the mustard to release that bit of extra warmth.
We tend to enjoy this with fresh crusty bread but I have discovered it is perfect when used to make a classic Welsh rarebit (Caws Pobi), as the cheese contains all the ingredients required. (Ale and mustard), It is also delicious when added to a jacket potato. I have found though it is much easier to grate if it's done when the cheese has come straight out of the fridge, rather than when it's at room temperature.
This cheese is certainly a little out of the ordinary but is definitely well worth trying, especially if you love cheese, although if you are not a fan of mustard, then you obviously wouldn't enjoy it.
Y-Fenni is listed as being suitable for vegetarians and is also safe to eat during pregnancy.
If you are unable to find this locally you can buy it online from a number of sites, one in particular being www.teddingtoncheese.co.uk, where you can expect to pay a around of £4.25 for the smallest piece available weighing 250g, or you could should you choose to buy a whole cheese weighing a whopping 2.5kg for £38.25 (think I'd struggle working my way through this one though, no matter how much I love it)
I am always on the lookout for unusual food products and eager to try any new discoveries out, (I believe you should never knock what you haven't tried), this is certainly one I'm glad to have found, and it has since become one of a number of firm favourites in our house.
Whilst I am well aware we as a nation are being advised to reduce our consumption of products such as this, I'm a firm believer in the fact that yes," you can have too much of a good thing" but am also of the opinion that "a little bit of what you fancy does you good."
Pictures of Y- Fenni Welsh Cheddar
A whole cheese in it's wax coating.
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