A CHEESE that delighted North East palates well over a century ago and then disappeared into obscurity, is being revived this month by one of the region's leading cheesemakers.
The Northumberland Cheese Company, of Cheese Farm, Blagdon, near Morpeth, is launching New Chevington cheese, closely based on the original Chevington which received an enthusiastic reception when it was first introduced to market in the 1880's.
After only a few years and the sad death of the original cheesemaker, production ceased, but following some patient detective work by Mark Robertson, who runs Northumberland Cheese, he managed to track down a description of the original recipe at the Northumberland Records Office in Gosforth. And with only one or two variations necessary to comply with modern standards of cheesemaking. New Chevington is as near to the original as possible.
Made with rich Jersey cows' milk from Wheelbirks dairy farm at Stocksfield, the mould-ripened New Chevington is a "cheese of delightful contradictions," according to Mark Robertson. It will be sold initially by the company's four original customers - Fenwick Limited, of Newcastle, Corbridge Larder, Linden Hall Hotel, Longhorsley and The George at Chollerford.
Mark said: "All of them have supported our business since we set up in 1985 and we are very pleased they will help us launch New Chevington. We have also been asked to supply it, when more supplies become available, to leading hotels and restaurants."
Mark says the smooth texture of the cheese suggests a slightly less acidic taste than is actually the case.
"The taste and texture contradict each other, which makes the cheese very unusual but delicious" he said.
The Northumberland Cheese Company has won numerous national awards for the quality of its wide range of existing cheeses, including a gold and a first prize.
During his researches Mark found a reference to Chevington cheese in a Northumberland newspaper's agricultural editor's article of 1895.
The author commented that: "One has heard of Chevington Coals but cheese is a new line in the business of Chevington. Mr John W Annett is the promoter thereof. He has for many years conducted large dairy operations at Chevington West Farm. Oceans, metaphorically, of milk leave his farm every year, and now he has set himself the task of manufacturing cheese to further prove that the resources of the agriculturist are not yet exceeded. He had not been long at the manufacture of the cheese, but he has succeeded in putting on the market a tasty, nutritious and wholesome article. Its quality is unimpeachable.
"It is made from the best new milk, and perfect cleanliness and every care is observed in its production. It beats the foreigner. That much goes without saying. It is not the strong acrid taste of the foreign article, but is mallow and appetising. Mr Annett is in earnest in his enterprise, and I hope he will succeed as he deserves. In these days a farmer who creates a profitable industry is a public benefactor."
Chevington, near Morpeth, is today split into East and West Chevington, where opencast mining was permitted in 1980. ON DISPLAY: Mark Robertson (right) of Northumberland Cheese with Richard Musgrave , food buyer of Fenwick Ltd, Newcastle at a special display in th store of Chevington and other local cheese.