Cheese named fi­nal­ist for foodie award

Cambridge Edition - - WHAT’S ON - KEL­LEY TANTAU

In New Zealand we eat an av­er­age of 11kg of cheese per per­son each year, and, in De­cem­ber, we eat twice as much as any other month.

But Waikato cheese­maker Sue Arthur says we should be eat­ing more.

‘‘In France, it’s 27kgs. We’ve got a long way to go,’’ she said.

How­ever, Arthur, who founded Over the Moon Dairy Com­pany in 2008, be­lieves Kiwi’s are be­com­ing braver.

‘‘I think our cheese-eat­ing habits have ma­tured a bit. I think peo­ple are look­ing for a lot more flavour that what they’re find­ing in su­per­mar­kets.’’

Over the Moon are based in Pu­taruru. Their cheeses are hand­made us­ing tra­di­tional open vat meth­ods and their pro­duc­tion is around 24,000kgs ev­ery year.

They were re­cently named fi­nal­ists in the New Zealand Food Awards BITE Gourmet Award cat­e­gory with Bur­gundy Moon.

They part­nered up with Mills Reef Win­ery to make the cheese, which is washed with a mix of Mer­lot grapes and other ‘‘se­cret in­gre­di­ents’’.

‘‘I’ve al­ways been fas­ci­nated with the idea of wash­ing cheese with beer and wine be­cause it’s what they used to do in the old days,’’ Arthur said.

She has also sub­mit­ted her cheeses to rep­re­sent New Zealand in global com­pe­ti­tions.

In 2010, they won two golds at the World Cheese Cham­pi­onships in Wis­con­sin, USA, as well as a bronze at Nantwich, Eng­land, in 2016.

Arthur said start­ing a busi­ness in New Zealand was hard work. Blood, sweat and tears go into mak­ing a suc­cess­ful com­pany, she said.

‘‘I just like cheese, it’s al­ways been one of my favourite foods, but it took me eight years to get the courage to start the busi­ness.

‘‘The mar­ket in New Zealand is just in its in­fancy. It was a tiny baby when I first started.’’

And if cheese is Arthur’s favourite food, Oc­to­ber must be her favourite month.

Oc­to­ber is New Zealand Cheese Month, which aims to cel­e­brate the taste and flavours of our coun­try’s best cheese.

There is still a niche for spe­cialty cheese, Arthur said. Over the Moon also caters to food­ies in­ter­ested in mak­ing their own.

Sis­ter com­pany New Zealand Cheese School de­liv­ers train­ing and runs work­shops for home cheese­mak­ers around the coun­try.

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