Abi Manning roadtests Sharpham Elmhirst – the Totnes cheesemakers’ award-winning, mould-ripened, triple-cream cheese
What is it?
The South West’s answer to a crowd-pleasing traditional French soft cheese. Move aside, brie: this is our new (local) cheeseboard staple.
Because it’s freakin’ delicious. Allow us the indulgence of describing just how delicious.
The initial bite reveals a pleasingly salty rind which slowly yields before giving way to an indulgently dairy-rich mousse that dissolves across the tongue.
Don’t be fooled by the distinctly un-pongy nature of the Elmhirst. Its velvet creaminess makes it deceptively mild but if, like us, you keep going and going until sprawled on the sofa with crumbs down your jumper, you’ll discover a robust tang lingering on the palate.
The Totnes curd pros started producing handmade local cheeses at Sharpham House in 1981. They’ve since moved to a modern, purpose-built creamery (right next to their winery – they’re a multi-skilled gang) but still use traditional techniques to produce handcrafted cheeses using milk from their own Jersey cattle.
For Elmhirst, double cream is added to Jersey milk to make a mould-ripened, triple-cream cheese that’s rich and moussy when young, maturing to decadent gooey-ness as it ripens. For ultimate indulgence, pair with a fresh-from-the-oven baguette and generous glug of crisp Sauvignon.
At £8.50 for 300g, or a slightly eye-watering £25 for 800g, you might want to reserve this one for a special occasion. But something so good it has you scraping every last scrap from the cheeseboard is surely worth every penny.
The cheese fiends at Sharpham have developed 100 per cent curbside-recyclable packaging. There’s rather a lot of it, but it’s worth it to protect the hunk of unctuous treasure hidden within. And you can pop the ice pack back in the freezer to reuse another time.
Recommend to a friend?
Only if they’re the sharing type.
Like Tried & Tested: Sharpham Elmhirst? Read 5 of the best cheese boxes here.
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