Cheese on Sea in Hastings. Owners James and Ruth McSmart. SUS-211014-100813001

See inside new Hastings cheese shop: Couple ‘bowled over’ by first week’s success

A new cheese shop is toasting its success after a roaring first week of business - and now hopes to turn itself into a cheese and wine bar.

By Alex Watts
Thursday, 14th October 2021, 5:25 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th October 2021, 5:30 pm

Cheese-on-Sea started off three months ago selling cheeses from a table at a street market outside Tommy’s Pizzeria in Norman Road, St Leonards.

Owners James and Ruth McSmart used the money they made to open a shop near Hastings Library in Claremont, and have been blown away by how popular it has become in only a week.

“It’s going really well, we’ve had steady customers all day. We haven’t had any dead spots. We’ve got 700 followers on Instagram now,” said James, a former head chef. “We’re amazed that people are coming from outside, from Robertsbridge and places like that, just to try the cheeses. We’ve even had people from London come down for Airbnb and buy a cheeseboard off us in advance. So we’re just a bit bowled over by it all.”

They sell takeaway cheeses, but are hoping to get a licence from the council so people can eat cheese and wine at tables inside the shop.

The husband-and-wife duo are putting on a series of cheese and wine pairing events this weekend to showcase how the shop would look if it was given permission to open as a cheese and wine bar.

They currently have more than 20 varieties of British cheese - and every week hope to add five or six new cheeses to the board.

They have eight “all-rounder” wines that are good with any cheese, but are looking at matching specific wines to specific cheeses - how the flavours complement each other in terms of creaminess, acidity, floral notes and citrus tastes.

“This Dorset smoked red cheese here is absolutely great,” said James. “It’s got a really oaky flavour so with a fruity red wine is amazing. It’s got all the oak tones that a red wine would have usually, so you can afford to be a bit lighter and fruitier with the wine.”

They sell local cheeses - including Pevensey Blue, which is like a creamy gorgonzola stilton. Also three cheeses from Haywards Heath, made from cow, sheep and goats milk. And organic wines from Sedlescombe.

The couple previously ran a smoke shack on the back of a boat in Hackney Wick, London. “We wanted to move down here for a long time. We moved down here six months ago - and we’ve gone for it,” added James.

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