Set Out on a Culinary Adventure in England with Cheese Journeys
Why Not Try a Different Kind of Travel Tour?
If your fantasies include staying in an English manor house in one of the most beautiful parts of Britain, while being wined and dined royally, your dreams have come true.
Cheese Journeys, the brain-child of Anna Juhl, is a food travel company that offers tours best described by the their tagline: “Explore, Culture, Cheese.” From England to France to Switzerland to Italy to Amsterdam, they’ll introduce you to some of the world’s best artisan cheese, food and drink producers, entrancing both your mind and your taste-buds.
“Oh, to be in England, now that April’s there,” the poet Robert Browning wrote. You can echo those words on the England: A Cheddar Odyssey trip, running March 30 to April 3, 2020. I had the pleasure of taking this same tour in 2018; it was one of the most fascinating culinary and cultural adventures I’ve ever experienced.
On this trip you will meet and learn from some of the world’s best artisanal food producers, wine-makers, brewers and brandy-makers. It is hosted by Anna along with writer Tenaya Darlington, whose moniker is Madame Fromage.
There’s even an artist, Mike Geno, whose specialty is paintings of cheese and who’ll give a “cheese portrait” class that’s as much fun as it is instructive. I was so pleased with my attempt at painting Stilton, I rushed home and framed my effort. But I am getting ahead of myself. Here’s what you can expect from your Cheese Journey in England next spring.
Experience the Cheesy Side of London
First stop is London’s most famous citadel of cheese, Neal’s Yard Dairy. Here, you’ll be treated to an overview and history of British cheesemaking and of course, a cheese tasting. Neal’s Yard is located in world-famous Borough Market, a haven of Britain’s gastronomic scene, filled with culinary discoveries of every description.
Then it’s off to Neal’s Yard’s Cheese Maturing Facility where you’ll be given an insider’s glimpse of the fascinating world of selecting, maturing and the global exporting of Britain’s farmhouse cheese.
Cheese and Activities to Please in Somerset
Leaving London by plush motor coach in the afternoon, it’s on to Somerset, a spot so beautiful every vista looks like a John Constable painting. On our way, what did I spy out of the coach window but Stonehenge itself. Traffic slowed and all the Cheese Journeyers had plenty of time to view and photograph the monument.
Your home for the next four nights is an exquisite 21-bedroom English manor house, North Cadbury Court. Reserved just for Cheese Journeys, this is the family home of the Montgomerys, arguably the most famous cheddar-makers of all. Janet, Archie and Jamie Montgomery are much in evidence and were our guests at dinners created by Chef Sylvain Jamois, whose sumptuous meals will be a much-awaited part of every day of your tour.
The Montgomerys undertook a complete renovation of their family home, bringing every bedroom and bath up to the highest standards. It’s all terribly comfortable and not at all formal despite the surroundings. It’s a grand English country house where the library is full of books that have actually been read and the walls are filled with portraits of family members, all while remaining very cozy.
The Montgomerys added some touches that astonish and please their guests at every turn. There’s an indoor swimming pool, an exercise room, a sauna, a snooker room, a mini casino, a tennis court and paddle boating on their pond. If you don’t like stairs, take the lift! You can even hit golf balls off the roof if you’re so inclined.
We doubt Downton Abbey itself has as much on offer as North Cadbury Court. And one of the great pleasures of this Cheese Journeys adventure is that you can do precisely as little or as much as you want.
Your days will be spent touring the glorious countryside, meeting the people who are making the British culinary scene one of the most remarkable anywhere in the world. Did I mention that the town of North Cadbury is also the home of Camelot? Yes, “Where the rain may never fall till after sundown!” — that Camelot! It is an archaeological dig that’s also part of the magic of this trip.
Your evenings will be spent enjoying wonderful meals in the company of the fascinating people you’ve met along the way. I treasure my memories of this trip and I urge you to consider putting it in your spring travel schedule.