Cheese named finalist for foodie award
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.