A very unusual soft cheese, Helford Sunrise is a close relative of Helford White and from the same dairy - but with crushed black peppercorns on the rind, and the addition of the vegetable dye annatto (the same thing that's used to create an orange colour in cheeses like Double Gloucester). The result is really dramatic.
Like Helford Sunrise, it's a member of the washed rind family - so expect a rich bold flavour and sticky texture. There's a whole 1kg cheese, from which we can cut smaller pieces, or the small whole version which weighs in at around 200g.
Treveador Farm Dairy
The Helford River marks the northern boundary of the Cornish peninsular known as The Lizard, and when I visited, on a crisp but sunny March day, it was looking glorious: daffodils in full bloom in the hedgerows and, as I drove, every so often the river itself appeared gleaming through bare winter trees. Passing through Gweek, with its wonderful boatyard, the road leads through ever smaller villages, and finally - at the very end of a long lane - there, perched up above the river, is Treveador Farm, home to some very exciting cheeses.
Alastair Rogers comes from a long-time farming family. In the 50s his father started the herd which still provides their milk today. His partner Bernadette ('Bernie') Newman was born in Essex, but fell for Cornwall and lived in St Just for many years before falling for Alastair and moving to Treveador. Cheesemaking began around 2008, and today they make Helford White, Helford Blue, Helford Sunrise and their own Helford Camembert - all of which are available through The Cheese Shed.
New makers face a dilemma. Do they make something familar, for which there's a ready demand (cheddar, or a brie perhaps?) but struggle to be noticed among numerous similar cheeses, or take the niche route, which
might involve hard work in order to build demand?
In the beginning, Alastair and Bernie took the second option. They decided to seek out gaps in the market, and landed on soft cheeses, but definitely not the usual mould-ripened (i.e brie, camembert etc) type. So two of their cheeses are soft blues (much softer than, say, Cornish Blue), and the third is a mini washed-rind cheese, Helford White (for which the inspiration was Reblochon).
This type of cheese has its rind washed in brine every few days whilst maturing; in that brine is a particular strain of bacteria. The process affects everything about the cheese: most immediately, they're colourful - so Helford White has a pink/apricot coloured rind. They're also a little pungent - though not excessively so, in this case. Try it and the reward is a totally beguiling flavour combined with a velvety melt-in-your-mouth texture.
The business has grown organically - through recommendation - and on the strength of the quality of the cheese. Which is just how it should be. At the time of writing, the only problem Alastair and Bernie face is keeping up with demand, and working out just how much they want the business to grow.
Small, after all, is beautiful.