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

Westcountry Cheesemakers say Sack the Stilton

PUBLISHED: 17:22 24 October 2007 | UPDATED: 14:54 20 February 2013

Westcountry Cheesemakers say Sack the Stilton

Westcountry Cheesemakers say Sack the Stilton

The British Christmas cheeseboard is as predictable as stockings, satsumas and socks. So why not add a little sparkle to your yuletide cheese selection and send a little festive cheer to our region's fantastic cheesemakers? The region is home to a...

Choosing and tasting cheeses

Most good delis will let you 'try before you buy' so if you want to get the most from your nibble here are a few tips to help you sum up quickly whether a cheese works for you.

* Look at the cheese - is it inviting?

* Touch it, break it, smell it - texture and aroma are important factors

* Put a piece in your mouth, chew it and press it against the roof of your mouth. What can you taste? How does it feel? Does the taste have different facets?

* Swallow and think what's left behind? Does it have a lingering and complex flavour?

Why not give a cheesy gift?

There's always someone difficult to buy for. What could be more unusual than unwrapping a wedge of the finest West Country Farmhouse Cheddar or a wheel of Devon brie? So nip down to your local deli or cheese counter and put together your own selection. It would certainly beat another pair of socks.

A good deli will usually wrap the cheese in pretty, old-fashioned paper that needs little titivating. Pop the cheese into a traditional wicker hamper or a nice old wine crate, add a bottle of decent plonk and perhaps some trucklements and biscuits too. You could even give a selection of West Country Farmhouse cheeses. They can all be ordered online through the West Country Cheesemakers' website: www.farmhousecheesemakers.com

Parkham Mature West Country Farmhouse Cheddar

(hard, cows' milk, medium)

Parkham Farm is close to the sea on the North Devon coast, where the Willes family make authentic West Country Farmhouse Cheddar with milk from their own and their neighbours' cows. Parkham's Cheddar (like all real West Country Farmhouse Cheddars) is made by hand using a traditional recipe, producing a cheese with a distinctive creamy flavour and texture. It's available in Waitrose under the West Country brand. (01237 431 246 or e-mail: parkham@farmhousecheesemakers.com

Keens' Unpasteurised Extra-mature West Country Farmhouse Cheddar

(hard, cows' milk, strong)

All Cheddars are not the same. Because West Country Farmhouse Cheddars have Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status and are handmade, each farm produces a cheese with a character all its own. Cheddar has been made by the Keens family at Moorhayes Farm since 1899. The Keens use milk from their own Friesian cows to make this flavourful, rich cheese. The cloth-bound cheeses mature for more than 12 months in the farm store. They are regularly turned, cleaned and sampled to ensure that each one acquires the characteristic robust but subtle nutty flavour which has real appeal for fans of stronger cheese. Available in Waitrose under the West Country label. (01963 32286; e-mail: keens@farmhousecheesemakers.com

Exmoor Blue

(semi-soft cows' milk, medium strong)

A semi-soft blue-veined cheese with a buttery taste, its texture and flavour come from rich Jersey cows' milk with herbal undertones. The blue is just strong enough to give a little tang without overwhelming the subtle background flavours.

The home of Exmoor Blue is an old stone dairy that lies in a lush valley on the eastern fringe of the Exmoor National Park. Ian and Ruby Arnett maintain a hands-on approach to cheesemaking, using only traditional methods. Exmoor Blue is a real Devon treasure and something a little different for dinner guests who appreciate a blue cheese. Available in many delis and good food stores. (01984 667328

Sharpham Brie

(soft, white-rind cows' milk, mild)

The Sharpham dairy is based at the Sharpham estate near Totnes. Debbie Mumford has been making Sharpham by hand to her own recipe since 1980 from fresh Jersey milk, which creates a rich golden curd. Sharpham is a mould-ripened 'Brie'-style cheese with a unique flavour and creamy texture which makes the most of Devon's great milk-producing pastures. Widely available from good delis and the estate shop. (01803 732600; www.sharpham.com


(soft, washed-curd ewes' milk, medium)

The newest creation from Tamaracott Cheeses, Boyton is quite tangy and 'lemony' but has a creamy, lingering aftertaste. It has a firm texture with small holes typical of a washed-curd cheese. Although it has a naturally moulded rind, the rind is scrubbed prior to sale to reveal an orangey hue and interesting pattern which will add colour to your cheeseboard.

Milk is sourced from a neighbouring flock of Friesland ewes and turned into Boyton by the family-run business in a converted barn overlooking the River Tamar. Available from Bideford Farmers' Market, Market Cheeses, Holsworthy and the Cheese Shop, Barnstaple. (01409 271439 or e-mail tamaracott@gmail.com.

You could also visit www.TheCheeseShed.com.

Serving tips

Good cheeses are best stored in a cool, damp environment. Keep it in the warmest part of the fridge (usually the top shelf unless it has a freezer compartment, in which case use the salad drawer at the bottom) - if it's kept too cold the cheese will lose flavour. Cheese that becomes too dry will start to crack and wither, so keep well wrapped.

To enjoy them at their best, remove hard cheeses from the fridge and stand at room temperature for at least an hour before serving to allow the full range of flavours to develop. Serve softer cheeses straight from the fridge.



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