Cyril is the name of my grandfather on my father’s side. I decided to name the business after him for three reasons.
I started working in the cheese industry nine years ago and fell head over heels in love with it. My relationship with cheese opened up doors to all kinds of culinary adventures and inspired me to want to share good food and drink with everyone I meet. I believe that my appetite for dairy products, not to mention my ability to successfully digest so many of them, is a direct result of my British heritage. Cyril was born in Wales and lived much of his life in England. (My father grew up in England, he came to the U.S. in his late twenties and decided to stay for good.)
So many people I work with in the food business have these epic food-related memories from their childhoods that ultimately led them to work in the industry. Me, not so much. My parents were adept cooks, moderately adventurous– there was some dabbling with ravioli, fondue and even a stir fry/wok phase in the 80’s– but we rarely went out to eat and our meals at home were more functional than the focal point of anyone’s passion.
But I do have strong food memories from the handful of trips we made throughout my childhood to visit my English grandparents. One is the memory I have of sitting in my their kitchen watching my grandfather make toast for me. They had a coal fired stove so he held the bread over the embers with a long tined fork designed specially for the task. Each piece of toast went into a rack on the table alongside the most glorious sweet cream butter I had ever tasted that I applied in copious quantities to each slice. I also had my first taste of marmalade at that table- a taste I came to love years later…only if it is combined with a generous layer of butter.
Add to this the milk that was so sweet and creamy it made cereal taste like dessert and this luscious yet thin custard my grandmother poured over warm, dense cakes for dessert and my passion for dairy products was born.
I dream about hosting family-style dinners at Cyril’s that replicate the hearty and delicious midday meals we had on Sundays at my grandparents home—a succulent roast flanked by Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and vegetables, followed by one of those dense, spiced cakes topped warm custard that I am determined to figure out how to reproduce.
Although I didn’t know my grandfather very well I had such a fondness for him. He marveled at the suntanned skin of his two Californian granddaughters just as his accent, his collection of hats, and the pipe that he smoked captivated us (I mean he’s wearing a suit at the beach!). He also had a great laugh that sounded a bit like a cloudy cough engulfed in happiness.
Cyril was a professional sign maker and painter; he learned the trade and inherited his father’s business (Thomas Davies & Son). I know that one of his career highlights was doing some detailed painting at one of the Queen’s properties and my dad told me more recently that the tag line for his business was, ‘We guarantee good work’. I loved peering into his workshop across the driveway from the house- packed to the gills with tools and projects.
I’ll never know if it’s the way he was or the fact that I didn’t see him very often that gives him such a magical quality in my memories, I simply remember that I liked how it felt to be around him. These feelings of comfort and curiosity might be the best reason to name the business after him because this is precisely the experience I’d like to offer to the public at Cyril’s. I am hopeful that the place will have that magical quality that makes people simply enjoy being there.