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Devon's Sharpham Dairy offers tips for building the perfect festive cheeseboard and drink pairings for New Year's Eve. Dairy owners, Greg and Nicky Parsons suggest the oozy crowd-pleaser which is Sharpham Dairy's Camembert, £6.50 / 280g. This is a moist, soft, creamy, surface-ripened cow's milk variety made in individual rounds that make it perfect for baking. When heated, Sharpham Camembert becomes yielding, oozing and perfect for dipping.
The talking point cheese is Sharpham Dairy's Rushmore, £5.50 / 230g. Rushmore is rich and creamy with a subtle floral sweetness and a lingering finish. It has won the hearts of guests at various food shows. The highly decorated famous cheese is Sharpham Cremet £14.85 / 480g. Cremet was awarded the heralded 3 stars in the Great Taste Awards, putting Sharpham Dairy in the top 2% of the largest and most trusted food and drink awards on the planet. Hand-crafted from goat's milk and cow's double cream, judges said the cheese was 'exquisite' and 'extraordinary' in blind taste tests. With nothing else like it produced in the UK, Sharpham's Cremet has a subtle, fresh and creamy flavour, with a mousse-like texture when young, deepening to a full, rich flavour with earthy undertones when ripe.
Introducing the new Sharpham Dairy Scotch Bonnet Chilli Jam to add a welcome kick to warming wintery flavours. Perfectly balanced, it packs a punch with heat and sweetness in one. It's the perfect accompaniment with gammon, cold cuts or the all-important festive cheese board.
Greg Parsons believes there's no right or wrong way to build the ultimate cheese board – it's all about preference. Greg tells us, "It's a good rule of thumb to pair cheese and wines with equal intensity. Generally, creamy soft cheeses pair beautifully with sparkling wines. If you're going for a cheese with a delicate character, avoid overpowering it with a full-bodied red. As you venture into the realm of complex aged cheeses, look for bold or fortified wines to match. It's also true what they say – what grows together, goes together. For example, Sharpham Wine and Cheese are made along the River Dart and the terroir shapes products that pair exceptionally well together."
How much cheese to serve? Greg advises, "If you plan to serve cheese as part of a meal, a typical recommendation is to provide 80g per person. However, over the New Year period, guests may wish to savour the cheese board with drinks, so consider increasing the amount to 150g per person."
What cheeses to go for? Greg suggests opting for various textures and characters which is a guaranteed way to please everyone. He says, "A classic choice includes a blue cheese, a soft cheese, a semi-hard cheese, a cheddar and a goat's cheese. Sharpham Dairy has gathered up some of the most popular cheeses in the 'Essential Devon Cheese Board' - £30 which includes the Devon classics; Sharpham Brie, Sharpham Rustic, Sharpham Ticklemore Goat, Quicke's Mature Cheddar and Ticklemore Devon Blue.
When it comes to top pairings for the season, Greg says, "I love the delicate floral notes of our Sharpham Rushmore paired with a light-bodied, aromatic white such as a sauvignon blanc. "New Year's Eve is a time for popping open the bubbly, which I would pair with one of my favourites – our brie. A good brie is a cheeseboard essential. I'd also pair our Sharpham Brie with something with a little acidity like apple or plums."
A final word from Greg..."Once cheese has been cut into, it's best eaten within a couple of weeks. Don't forget to take cheese out of the fridge an hour or two before serving to come up to room temperature. Do chat with your cheesemonger - they're often a font of knowledge and eager to introduce you to new cheeses, offer tasters and help build the perfect cheeseboard."