Rightfully so, cheese from the Northumberland Cheese Company is pretty much ubiquitous now. Think you’ve never had it? You have – it’s used in menus across the North East – soufflés, on cheese boards, and in tarts at all your favourite restaurants. We’ve had probably too much of it over the years, and it’s popular across the region because it is amongst the best. Whether at the dairy/tea room itself, or chomping wedges from the Quayside market, it’s just great that we have such a reliable and reputable producer in our region.
Presumably for the festive season this year, they have launched a few new gift boxes (£13), one of which “South Tyne”, they were kind enough to send us. As we’re always more than happy to get the cheese board out, it was a very much “cheese on everything” this week. Not a bad thing.
Filled with four 115g cheese wedges, you can either choose the North/South Tyne box, or visit at a farmers market where you can fill it with your favourite four cheeses from their choice of sixteen. Price is a little favourable vs. buying individual wedges, so it’s a decent buy.
Original is a cheddar-like cheese with gentle creamy flavour that’s probably a great starting place for a cheese newbie. Just by itself, with figs & celery or melted on a cheese toastie like we did, it’s versatile and hard not to like.
Similarly cheddar-like is nettle. This is a more vibrant cheese which was particularly good with the “boozer’s relish” from Coquet Valley producers – made with Newcastle Brown ale, this was one of the best chutneys in recent memory. The cheese, made with nettles, stands up well to wine, and has a deeper flavour than you first think, with an inviting chive-y zing.
Elsdon is a milky chalk-white goat’s cheese, but again is an excellent choice for the many people who “don’t like goats cheese”. It’s a lot more mellow, with a fresh taste – not as harsh or crumbly as a traditional goat’s, and probably our favourite of the lot here.
Finally there is an Oak Smoked cheese, which has a not too subtle smoked flavour, and was great with the Berwick cheese cracker from nearby Doddington Dairy. Also had this in a sandwich with some proscuitto which was delicious.
We’d love this a gift, and no doubt it’d make an ideal addition to any hamper this year. If you haven’t quite tried all of the companies’ cheeses, we also love the Cheviot, and the Reiver. Either way, keep it local and try some real cheese – you will love it.
The South Tyne Gift Box is available online or at the many farmers markets in Newcastle/Northumberland, and the Doddington Dairy biscuits and Boozer’s Relish chutney were bought from Blagdon Farm Shop ~£3each. We were sent the South Tyne gift box complimentary for review.