CHRISTMAS OFFER 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



Boyton


(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.



SAM PURNELL



0 comments

More from Food & Drink

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

SU CARROLL breaks bread with charismatic Devon restaurateur Edmond Davari as he embarks on a new venture

Read more
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

We hooked up with RACHAEL JOWITT, head roaster for leading South West coffee roastery, Voyager Coffee, to hear how the business is developing

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

From pale ale and real cider to craft beer, Devon is home to a number of real ale breweries and CAMRA award-winners, meaning a good pub is never far away – we pick 16 places to go in Devon to find the best pint

Read more
Friday, November 16, 2018

Devon Life’s readers and followers have been voting for their favourite food & drink stars and we can now reveal our winners who were honoured at our glamorous ceremony at Sandy Park on November 15

Read more
Wednesday, November 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
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A traditional Christmas pudding recipe, served with clotted cream and a brandy Crème Anglaise with a dash of cognac

Read more
Friday, October 26, 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
Monday, October 22, 2018

We’ve spoken to award-winning chef Michael Caines MBE to find out more about Lympstone Manor’s wine celebration evenings and when their new vineyard will produce its first bottle of wine

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 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, October 9, 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
Thursday, October 4, 2018

Check out Michael Caines’ column in the latest issue of Devon Life where you can read more about what this recipe will be perfect with

Read more
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

We reveal the winner of Devon’s Tea Room / Coffee Shop of the Year. Sponsored by Radio Exe

Read more
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

We reveal the winner of Devon’s Best Sunday Roast. Sponsored by cottages.com

Read more
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

We reveal the winner of the Pub of the Year award. Sponsored by WBW Solicitors

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