3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Devon Life today click here

Ian Wellens of The Cheese Shed talks Devon Cheeses

PUBLISHED: 17:35 14 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:32 20 February 2013

Some of the delicious Devon cheese options

Some of the delicious Devon cheese options

Taste your way through an all the Devon Cheeses this Christmas with Ian Wellens

We can't put this off any longer. It's time to tackle the key problem posed by the imminence of the Festive Season. No, not the traditional v real tree debate, or whether you dare seat Auntie Vi next to Grandma (after last year). No, I'm talking about a subject which is, of course, far more important. I'm talking about cheese.



The thing is, there's just too much to choose from: all the traditional cheeses from home and abroad, plus a stack of great new British cheeses. So here's my solution: go local with an all-Devon cheeseboard. Stunning examples of all the main cheese types are made right here on your doorstep. Here at TheCheeseShed.com we're busy telling people all over the country about Westcountry cheese, and even selling them a kilo or two. But we find that even locals aren't always totally aware of the range and quality on offer.


So, let's start at the very beginning... by talking Cheddar. It's the Westcountry's great contribution to world cheeses, and we're blessed with one of its premier makers in Mary Quicke of Newton St Cyres. Quicke's Cheddar has quite rightly won more awards than you can shake a stick at, and is available in a strength to suit everyone, from Mild right up to the 24-month-matured Vintage (not to mention the smoked version). Top Cheddar to be sure. Incidentally, why wasn't there any cheese in Maria's list of Favourite Things?



For an alternative, lighter-tasting cows' milk cheese we can turn to North Devon's Rachel Stephens, one of the best pioneers of the great revival in artisan cheesemaking that we've seen over the last 25 years. Rachel makes Curworthy and its more mature sibling Devon Oke, along with several flavoured versions like Meldon (mustard and ale) and Chipple (spring onions).



You'll want a brie, and here we have another winner. The dairy at Sharpham on the River Dart pioneered brie-style, 'mould-ripened' cheeses in this country and their eponymous cheese is a superb example. And if that's not luxurious enough, try Elmhirst, a double-cream-enriched cheese which is truly the last word in luxury. My favourite, however, is their firmer cheese, the creamy and gorgeous Sharpham Rustic.



Another type of cheese that's associated with France is the group known as 'washed rind' cheeses (Pont L'Eveque and Vacherin are examples). They tend to have a springy, semi-soft texture, a sticky rind, and are - ahem - pungent. Last Christmas there was no washed rind cheese made in Devon. But, I'm happy to say that now there is. Called Buckland, this great little organic cheese is produced up near Ilfracombe and is definitely worth seeking out. Speaking of organic cheese, Bryony Copsey of Ridgewell Farm near Tiverton is forging ahead with an organic soft cheese (Ridgewell) and Devon Belle,


a new semi-soft based on an Italian recipe.


Mustn't leave out goats' cheese, increasingly popular despite what, to my mind, is a rather bizarre lingering prejudice. People tell me they're against it on the grounds that it 'tastes goaty'. Now, let's be honest, it is true that goats' cheese tastes like goats' cheese, but that doesn't seem entirely unreasonable! For the enlightened, both Quicke's and Sharpham make excellent hard goats' cheese, and Dave Johnson is a goats' cheese specialist whose Norsworthy Dairy has an ever-expanding list, including the excellent Gunstone. Cheeseboard variety, however, might demand Oakdown. Made by Max Pilar and his happy free-range goats in the Teign Valley, this is a super-soft, fresh cheese that just melts in your mouth. Equally nice in its plain, or garlic-and-herb- flavoured versions.



But what's that lumbering towards us? Ah yes, the proverbial elephant in the room. You know, the thing that's blindingly obvious but no one dares to mention. And this pachyderm is distinctly Stilton-shaped. Because you have to have Stilton at Christmas, don't you? Well, no! Not when there's Robin Congdon at Ticklemore Dairy turning out some of the best blue cheese you'll find anywhere. Robin makes a trio of great blues: Devon Blue (cows' milk), Beenleigh (ewes') and Harbourne (goats'). When The Cheese Shed was featured on Gary Rhodes' Local Food Hero show last year, we sent a box of cheeses for Gary and co-host Michael Caines to try. What did they pick out? Beenleigh Blue. But Ticklemore's blues are all lovely! Try any one of them and suddenly Stilton won't seem quite so essential.



Ian Wellens is owner of The Cheese Shed, 01626 836762 or visit www.thecheeseshed.com

0 comments

More from Food & Drink

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

South Hams local MARC COWLING deliberates the increasing fascination with lure fishing for sea bass, and how a passion has become his full-time occupation

Read more
Thursday, September 6, 2018

This salad can be served as a main or a starter. The wild duck, celeriac and game hollandaise are delicious together

Read more
Thursday, September 6, 2018

After an overwhelming response to last month’s competition, Devon Life has teamed up with Food Drink Devon and its members for the second time to create another delectable foodie prize

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

As the winter begins to close in, there’s nowhere better to take refuge than one of Devon’s many cosy pubs. Here are 9 you should look for when needing to escape the nippy British weather

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The owners of a famous Devon ice cream company have launched a new foodie venture, as Catherine Courtenay discovers

Read more
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Whether you have strawberry or raspberry jam on your scones, or prefer Earl Grey to English breakfast tea, we’ve found 12 of the best tearooms that Devon has to offer

Read more
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Verity Hesketh is enchanted by Devon’s renowned floating restaurant

Read more
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Public Houses are a cornerstone of life here in Britain, dating back as far as the Roman invasion in 43 AD. Devon is no different and its humble establishments are steeped in history and nostalgia. We’ve taken a look at 11 of the county’s most historical pubs

Read more
Friday, August 10, 2018

Having two distinctly different and unconnected coastlines, Devon boasts some very fine, and very varied, beach and coastal cafés that really come into their own during the outdoorsy days of summer. Simone Stanbrook-Byrne picks 7 heavenly Devon beach and coastal cafés

Read more
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

With views of the coast, the countryside and our towns and cities, Devon’s eateries are home to some of the best views the county has to offer. Here are 23 places that are a treat for the tongue and the eyes

Read more
Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Sunday lunch is an enduring British institution that’s incredibly important to get right. We’ve chosen 12 places in Devon that will guarantee sublime stuffing, mouth-watering meats and Yorkshire pudding perfection.

Read more
Tuesday, July 24, 2018

There’s nowhere better to make the most of the glorious summer sun in Devon than in one of our many delightful beer gardens. From north to south, we pick 9 of the best pubs to visit

Read more
Tuesday, July 24, 2018

For most of us, the difficulty of having a cream tea is deciding whether to put the jam or cream on first (cream first, obviously). But for coeliacs and the gluten intolerant, finding a place that caters for your dietary needs can be far harder. To help you out, we’ve picked 8 places for gluten-free cream tea in Devon

Read more
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Devon Life Food & Drink Awards - to be held at Sandy Park on 15 November - are back and we want you to nominate your local heroes

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search