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Say Cheese

Cheese artisans taste success The bland block in supermarkets faces serious rivalry as European flair enriches our region, Sarah Nottage discovers. PHOTOGRAPHY STEVE HUSSEY

T

asting a quality handmade cheese is intense. Your senses ignite. In the moment you notice every detail, from the taste to the texture, and even your surroundings. The experience can be surprising – almost overwhelming. You struggle for words to describe it. The taste may not be what you expected, but it may be exactly what you were looking for. The Top of the South is home to several thriving cheesemakers who craft their product by hand, using traditional methods. Kervella Cheese, inspired by the principles of biodynamic farming and sustainability, have been creating divinely unique cheeses in a fromagerie located at their home in Takaka since 2007. Viavio, in Nelson, set up a few years ago with a desire to expand the varieties of quality, delicious Italian-style cheese and yoghurt in New Zealand. Cranky Goat have been making a wide range of superb goat cheeses using milk sourced from their goat-farming neighbours at Linkwater, Marlborough Sounds, for some 14 years. Thorvald, nestled in the Neudorf Valley, create beautiful sheep-milk cheese and yoghurt as well as cows’-milk cheese under a different brand, Little River Estate. Our local artisan cheesemakers either grew up in or have strong connections with Europe, and as such their driving force is derived strongly from their heritage. Simon Lamb, from Cranky Goat, immigrated here with his family when he was recruited by the New Zealand Defence Force from Herefordshire, in the English countryside. “In Europe, the relationship with food is that it is life,” he says. “In New Zealand, still a young, rurally based country, until quite recently the purpose of food has been predominantly for nourishment. “If I look back at my childhood memories, they always involve eating good food. Then afterwards the table would be cleared and a big cheeseboard put out. It was a part of the conversation, like wine. Wine and cheese are a total contradiction in terms because cheese coats the mouth with fat and then wine strips it, so it’s that conflict, that moment, which makes it complementary.”

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Profile for WildTomato

WildTomato September 2019  

Kono Dine Out Awards | New Nelson Wines | Cheese Please | Saving our Whitebait | Home Brewing | Brass Band | Chia Sisters | E-transport

WildTomato September 2019  

Kono Dine Out Awards | New Nelson Wines | Cheese Please | Saving our Whitebait | Home Brewing | Brass Band | Chia Sisters | E-transport