The Parke and Pepperdon Story
In the almost ten-year lifetime of The Cheese Shed, we've seen a few cheese makers come and go. Menallack was a great pioneering dairy based just outside Falmouth. Caryl Minson developed a huge range of different cheeses, later her husband John ran the business until in his 70s, it was time to retire. Boccadon Farm, near Looe, made some beautiful soft cheeses but closed after a family tragedy.
I mention these two because what their closure left behind was a gap, in terms of the types of cheese made in the Westcountry. Both produced soft 'fresh' cheeses - i.e cheeses made and ready to eat very quickly. They tend to be small, with no rind, they're quite mild and often use added flavouring: peppercorns or garlic and herbs are popular, but Menallack made one called Heligan that featured lemon zest on top!
The trouble is that when we look around now for cheeses of this type, we can't find them.
Which is why - for the last few Christmases - we've been working with our very good friends at Sharpham to produce a couple of cheeses of this type. They use Sharpham's excellent unpasteurised Jersey milk with cream added, and in both cases the added flavourings are rolled onto the outside of the cheese rather than being incorporated inside it. On a recent trip to Corsica I saw lots of cheeses in a similar style (see photo below). The first one Sharpham made for us used cracked black peppercorns, and we called it 'Pepperdon' - is a hamlet just up the road (it really is). This Christmas past, a version with garlic and herbs was made. 'Parke' takes its name from the large house just outside Bovey Tracey, home to Dartmoor National Park.
It's been exciting working with Mark and Debbie at Sharpham, and we've loved the results. If possible, we'd love to make these cheeses available to our customers year-round; failing that, they may have to remain as a seasonal treat!
NB Huge thanks to the very talented Rosie Sanders. I decided to copy the style of those Corsican cheese labels and needed a little pen-and-ink drawing to do it. In the blink of an eye Rosie produced a drawing of the Cheese Shed in front of the Parke house, with a couple of grazing Jerseys. Thank you Rosie!