You know that your cheese obsession is getting out of hand when you realise that you’ve got favourite rinds. Manchego is always a beauty, criss-crossed like a cheese in a tweed jacket. Back on the British Isles, I love the unusual Suffolk Gold which is covered in grey furry moleskin, the dramatic navy-brain of Isle of Wight Blue and, of course, the jade livery of Cornish Yarg, which my photography skills could never do justice to. This week’s flying saucer of a cheese could also be a contender.
Ticklemore is a semi-hard, pasteurised, goats’ milk cheese made by Debbie Mumford and Mark Sharman at the cheese-and-wine-making powerhouse that is Sharpham Estate, near Totnes in Devon. The cheese started its life with Robin Congdon, who lived nearby. Robin was a pioneer of making ewes’ milk products back in the 1970s; yoghurt came first and was soon followed by cheese. Goats’ milk and cows’ milk cheeses were not far behind.
In particular, Robin specialised in making blue cheeses, such as Harbourne Blue and Beenleigh Blue, at a time when Stilton was about the only British blue cheese available. Ever a man keen to experiment, he also developed goaty Ticklemore and Ticorino, a now-defunct pecorino-type cheese. However, in 1998 he passed the recipes and techniques for Ticklemore and its orphan sibling Devon Rustic to Debbie Mumford.
The goats’ milk comes from a sixty-strong herd of various breeds which grazes on Button Farm on nearby Dartmoor. The finished cheeses are shaped like flying saucers due to the flat basket shape of the moulds they drain in – said to once have been Woolworths colanders! The cheeses are then hand-salted and sent to mature, where they are turned regularly and the outsides rubbed, so that they form a natural rind. After just three or four weeks the cheeses are ready to be wrapped and sold.
Ticklemore is ivory white, sometimes speckled with holes, although mine was pretty solid, perhaps because it had been sealed in plastic. The paste is slightly crumbly but not at all dry with a sweet, lightly herbal taste with just a whiff of the goat about it to begin with that intensified over a couple of days. Without realising, I also recently bought another of Sharpham’s cheeses so watch this space for something completely different.