Derry cheese firm is the cream of the crop

Pictured at the Artisan Market in The Craft Village back in 2015 were, from left, Gillian Hamilton, Hamilton's Organic Farm, Julie Hickey, Tom Hickey, Dart Mountain Cheese, and Linda McClean, Mallon Mia Gourmet Marshmallows. DER1715-132KM
Pictured at the Artisan Market in The Craft Village back in 2015 were, from left, Gillian Hamilton, Hamilton's Organic Farm, Julie Hickey, Tom Hickey, Dart Mountain Cheese, and Linda McClean, Mallon Mia Gourmet Marshmallows. DER1715-132KM

A Derry-based cheese making firm has emerged the cream of the crop after scooping a prestigious industry award in the National Final.

Dart Mountain Cheese from the Sperrins in Claudy, is run by Kevin and Julie Hickey, and won the ‘From the Dairy, Artisan’ category of the ‘delicious. Magazine Produce Awards’ national final, with their Sperrin Blue Cheese – one of only eight national winners.

They will now appear in a feature on the winners in this month’s edition of the glossy food magazine.

This semi-soft pasteurised blue cheese is named after the Sperrin Mountains where it is made by hand with local milk.

National judge and Great Bake Off judge Prue Leith said the cheese had ‘a wonderfully fresh flavour with good acidity’.

Kevin Hickey, Director, said: “We are thrilled. We specialise in small batch production of handcrafted cheese. Julie, is a self-taught cheese maker and her passion and love of food knows no bounds. With a background as a chef, and having gained skills from the French Culinary Institute of New York she understands and appreciates the importance of quality ingredients.

“Our cheese is a natural product and therefore requires Julie’s great skill managing that product during the production process in order to achieve consistency and quality of flavour.”

Judges for the Northern Irish regional heat included Jenny Bristow, Una McMahon-Beattie and Peter Gott.

National Judges included rditor Karen Barnes and Prue Leith – restaurateur, chef, founder of Leith’s School of Food & Wine, writer and judge of The Great British Bake Off.

Other judges included Lucas Hollweg, cook and food writer and author of Good Things to Eat, and also Andi Oliver, chef, musician and restaurateur.