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This cheese does not use rennet and is therefore suitable for vegetarians

Beenleigh Blue

from £8.87

Slightly crumbly, with tiny, bubbly holes. This is a rich, sweet blue ewe's milk cheese that people just rave about! 

It's made by Robin Congdon of Ticklemore Cheese in South Devon, and if you like blue cheese (of course you do!), you might like to check out Harbourne Blue (goat) and Devon Blue (cow) from the same dairy.  

Pasteurised, vegetarian.

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In the artisan cheese universe there are a few makers that deserve special praise, not only for the excellence of what they produce, but for the fact that they swum against the tide, starting out when hand-made cheese could easily have seemed like an anachronism in the era of supermarkets and big creameries. Rachel Stephens (of Curworthy) is one. So was the late Caryl Minson of Menallack. And Ticklemore's Robin Congdon is definitely another.

A mile or so upstream from Sharpham's Dairy, and perched up on a hill above the River Dart, you'll find a neat group of wooden buildings. One is the Ticklemore Cheese dairy. Another is where Robin and his partner Sarie Cooper live. Back in the 70s Robin was farming sheep on this land. No one else was milking sheep, so he decided to start. Making yoghurts led on to cheese, and a determination to make something inspired by Roquefort, the French ewe's milk blue matured in caves.

30 years on, the famous Beenleigh Blue which resulted from these experiments is matured in what Ben Harris - now in charge - does actually call the cave. With its running water and constant fresh air flow, it's an attempt to mimic the conditions you'd find underground. And it must be working, because Beenleigh and its siblings Harbourne Blue (goat) and Devon Blue (cow) are blue cheeses that bear comparison with the best of the best, and indeed Ticklemore is a place of pilgrimage for aspiring makers from across the world.

Robin has now stepped back from the day-to-day work in the dairy though Sarie still helps out most weeks. Ben, who showed me round, definitely seems to have the 'right stuff' to keep the Ticklemore blues on the right track.

Incidentally, a few years ago we sent a box of about 10 wonderful cheeses to UKTV's Local Hero show, hosted by Gary Rhodes and Michael Caines (we were in the regional final). Which two cheeses did they pick out for praise? Ogleshield and... Beenleigh Blue.