New artisan goat’s cheese from Dart Mountain

Food NI member Dart Mountain Cheese has added a new hand-made goat’s cheese to its successful portfolio of pasteurised cow’s milk cheeses.

Based near Dungiven in the rural Sperrin Mountains in county Derry, Dart Mountain is an award winning artisan cheese producer owned and managed by husband and wife team Kevin and Julie Hickey, the master cheese maker.

The new goat’s cheese, the company’s first soft cheese, is described by Julie Hickey as “a light and fresh cheese with a slight lemony taste and a delicate rind”.  “I’ve always loved goat’s cheese and have been thinking about creating one for many years,” she says.

“One of the problems we faced was a shortage of local goat’s milk. While there are very few goat farmers in Northern Ireland, we managed to source a supply of quality milk from county Tyrone.

“Our focus as an artisan producer is on sourcing ingredients locally. We were delighted find a supplier in county Tyrone. It’s also our business strategy to name our cheeses after local areas and townlands. So, we named the new goat’s cheese Carraig Ban, the Irish for white rock, a local landmark,” adds Mrs Hickey.

The new cheese, which was launched at the recent Slow Food Festival in Derry, has also been taste tested with local restaurants. “Feedback has been extremely positive from all those who have tasted the cheese.

“It was hugely popular, for instance, at the Slow Food event and has been used by leading chefs to create original dishes,” she continues. “It’s great for pizzas and grills really well,” Mrs Hickey says. The cheese has been in development over the past four months.

Dart Mountain Cheese is part of Tamnagh Foods, the business formed by the couple in 2011. As well as cheese, Tamnagh produces granolas, relishes and chutneys which have won UK Great Taste Awards.

In June 2012, the company converted a disused farm shed into a modern approved food unit – incorporating a modern production kitchen, a cheese production area and specially constructed cheese maturing rooms to facilitate the controlled ageing of cheese. It began producing cheese in 2014, the first being a Sperrin Blue from pasteurised cow’s milk.

Other cheeses in the Dart Mountain portfolio include Banagher Bold, a semi hard cheese washed in craft beer from Derry’s Northbound Brewing Company, Dart Mountain Dusk, an ash coated semi hard aged for four months, Kilcreen, an Alpine style cheese, and Tirkeeran, which is matured for at least seven months.