Martin’s babe in arms gurgled along to our conversation when I caught up with him on the phone recently. The Pevensey Cheese Company make Cuculo’s Cheese of the Month. Martin explained his mission:
“We wanted to rise to the challenge of making a good soft blue cheese, a bit Gorgonzola in style but much creamier. An artisan cheese that would please the blue cheese lover but with the potential to seduce all cheese lovers. We knew we couldn’t compete with Stilton, and wanted to do something in our own way. Blue cheese is tricky to make ‘bloody hard’ to get right. But we feel we have succeeded with a cheese which is not too salty, not too blue and gorgeously moreish.”
As luck would have it, when Martin and Hazel were inspired to set up the business they found space on the family farm in Boreham Street, East Sussex; and the perfect organic milk supplier adjacent at Court Lodge.
In fact, the milk relationship resulted in a business partnership extending beyond the supplying of milk. The fragility of milk means that the proximity of the supply to the cheese dairy is a crucial part of ensuring the quality and consistency needed by artisan producers. The speed of their supply chain means it’s grass on Sunday and cheese by Monday. The breed is a mix of British Friesian and Ayrshire – reared to a high welfare standard. The Pevensey Levels Wildlife Trust Area is the grazing land for these animals, where they enjoy this special wetland pasture in a unique partnership which keeps them in grass whilst ensuring the land is grazed to encourage the birdlife.
A serious challenge for many a cheesemaker, the pandemic was in fact a bit of a blessing, as it gave them time to get the Pevensey Blue ready for launching to the market this year. Much trial and error was involved before they perfected their cheese method. Pevensey Blue is made by using pasturised milk, which is introduced to the blue culture – penicillium roqueforti and rennet, after the whey is removed it becomes young curd in moulds, and at this point it is ready for the seven week maturation process. After which the cheese is distributed to restaurants, gastro pubs and specialist, artisan retailers like Cuculo. The limited production means that the only challenge Martin and Hazel have is keeping up with demand.
Martin’s love affair with cheese started with his days on the cheese counter at Neal’s Yard Dairy and he has never looked back. His ambition to make amazing cheese is at the heart of the business. He also acknowledges the support he has had from the local community, the council and EU funding. Without which he would have been unlikely to get to that first truckle.
Pevensey Blue is a newcomer to the burgeoning range of UK derived artisan cheeses.
This is the blue cheese to go for if you like a creamy blue with a simple milky, nutty flavour. A cheese Martin and Hazel have worked bloody hard to get right.
Pevensey Blue – Cheese of the Month at Cuculo, High Street, Heathfield, East Sussex TN21 8HU