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Red Dragon CheeseRed Dragon, called Y Fenni when covered in the traditional yellow wax, is flavored with mustard seeds. Buy it online.
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April 2009
Last Updated August 2012

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Cheese-Butter-Yogurt

Red Dragon Cheese, a.k.a. Y Fenni

A New Artisan Welsh Cheese

 

CAPSULE REPORT: This vegetarian Welsh Cheddar has a kick of whole mustard seeds. It is spicy without being a fire-breathing dragon. Made with brown ale as well, you can enjoy it in many ways, including on a sandwich with a glass of brown ale. This is Page 1 of a three-page article. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.

Red Dragon Overview

While we can date some cheeses back many hundreds and even thousands of years—Pliny the Elder mentioned Cantal in his Historia Naturalis in the first century C.E. (see the History Of Cheese)—creative cheese makers are constantly developing new cheeses by creating unique recipes. Y Fenni is a relatively new Welsh cheese, a pasteurized cow’s milk Cheddar blended with whole grain mustard seed and brown ale. It is a vegetarian cheese, meaning that no animal rennet is used to create the curds. The cheese takes its name from the Welsh town in which it is made (called Abergavenny in English), a market town in Monmouthshire, in southeast Wales.

The curds are pressed into round molds, then coated in a pale yellow wax. The cheeses are aged for three months, and the whole wheels of Y Fenni weigh 3.3 pounds.

But some rounds are coated in red wax, not yellow wax, and these cheeses are known as Red Dragon, a reference to the dragon on the Flag of Wales.

 

Welsh Flag

The Welsh flag with its red dragon. Photo by Calum Hutchinson | Wikimedia.

Take A Bite Of Y Fenni / Red Dragon

By World War II, the cheese industry in Wales was almost defunct: first because all milk was commandeered for Cheddar for the war effort, and then made noncompetitive by large postwar cheese making factories in England.

Thanks to a renaissance in artisan cheese making in the past 30 years (that has also been a boon to the United States), a new generation of cheese makers restored Caerphilly (kahr-FILL-ee) the only traditional Welsh cheese still made by a handful of artisans, from the factory-made, processed cheese it has become at the hands of England’s cheese factories. Now, cheese lovers can enjoy the original farmhouse character of this historic cheese, and the Welsh people have a piece of their food heritage back.

See food and wine pairings on the next page.

 

Continue To Page 2: Serving Suggestions &
Recipe

Go To The Article Index Above

 

Y Fenni

With yellow wax, the cheese is known as Y Fenni, after the town in which it is made. With red wax, it is called Red Dragon, after the dragon in the flag of Wales. Photo by Dave Crosby |Wikimedia.

 

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