SAY cheese and enjoy the magic ingredients that fed a true love story which then led to two top selling cheeses in America being named after the town of Henley-in–Arden and the village in Lapworth, right here in south Warwickshire.
The cheeses are the creations of Kandice Marchant, a Cleveland Clinic doctor, who was born in Wisconsin, the “cheese state” in the United States.
Kandice has made many cheeses over the last few years but the ones she named Henley and Lapworth both hold a dear place in her heart because they are places she and her late husband used visit regularly.
Dr Marchant said: “I suppose I have always loved cheese, however, the cheese of my childhood was mostly non-memorable. It wasn’t until I was in medical school at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) University in Cleveland, Ohio where I met and married a dashing Englishman, Dr Roger Marchant from Marston Green, that my love of cheese was firmly solidified.”
Over a 30 year period, the couple regularly visited Roger’s family, the late Eric and Audrey Marchant in Marston Green and sister Janet Johnson in Edgbaston and it was at this time that Kandice was introduced to the English after-dinner cheese course at restaurants like Nuthurst Grange in Hockley Heath and Mallory Court in Bishops Tachbrook.
“Whenever we travelled to the UK, we would drive to the countryside from Marston Green in search of winding roads, quaint towns, canal-side pubs, restaurants and cheese shops. My favourite places were the small towns and villages like Henley-in-Arden with its medieval high street, Lapworth with its network of canals, Broadway with its honey-coloured stone walls and Chipping Campden with its market square and antique shops. So I was able to taste cheeses so different from anything I could get in the United States,” Kandice added.
Her love of cheese remained in the background while she completed a medical degree in 1986, obtained a PhD in polymer science, and had two daughters, Eleanor and Alexandra.
Her husband – Roger – became a professor at CWRU, and Kandice became a pathologist at Cleveland Clinic (the number two hospital in the USA) and eventually Chair of the Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Institute.
“In 2013, my husband became ill and during long days as Roger’s carer I started looking for activities that I could do at home. One fortuitous weekend, I attended a cheese benefit event at a local cooking school and met a local cheesemaker. Stimulated, I bought books on cheese making and determined to make cheese at home, which was something I could do while I cared for Roger. When Roger sadly passed away in early 2014, there was a huge hole in my life. Looking for activities to ease the loneliness, I returned to cheese making and diligently worked my way through recipes from ricotta to mozzarella to Gouda and cheddar.”
After attending a number of cheese making courses including one at the School of Artisan Food in Derbyshire, Kandice’s knowledge of cheese grew rapidly and she started to dream about starting her cheese making business.
She has now developed a name and brand identify and called her business “Marchant Manor Cheese” as an homage to Roger’s English heritage.
“Of my cheeses, my favourite is the Henley, which is made lovingly by hand and has a unique wrinkly-velvety rind, a smooth paste and a creamy vegetal flavor. This cheese is great by itself, but pairs wonderfully with fig jam, crostini and a smooth red wine, such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape,” said Kandice.