CALUM HODG­SON, cheese­mon­ger at Sa­bato, shares a cur­rent favourite.

Cuisine - - NZ CHARDONNAY - / sa­

THE CHEESE WITH NO NAME is a pe­tite, palm-sized plea­sure that punches way above its own weight. A soft-ripened sheep’s milk disc with a thin nat­u­ral-bloomy rind of a creamy yel­low to off-white colour, it is in­deed a com­plex mouth­ful. The paste is an unc­tu­ous fudgy yel­low; soft, rich and thick, with strong earthy un­der­tones and a gen­tle sweet­ness. The sheep’s milk is re­ally creamy and very high in milk solids yield­ing twice as much cheese per litre of milk than cow’s milk.

Phillippa White from Sen­try Hill Or­gan­ics in the Hawkes Bay only makes ‘low main­te­nance’ cheeses, while the tra­jec­tory of The Cheese With No Name to mar­ket has been any­thing but. I spent the best part of a year tak­ing the pi­lot ver­sion we called ‘The Cheese With No Name’ into kitchens ev­ery­where while we waited for MPI to is­sue no­tice it could be sold legally.

When MPI fi­nally gave us the green light to bring the cheese to mar­ket, the sea­son was just wind­ing up so we’d ef­fec­tively lost a whole sea­son’s out­put of milk. The pos­i­tive was that by then its whaka­papa and jour­ney was clear. To help launch its newly-found le­gal sta­tus we de­cided to ma­ture the cheese to heavy metal mu­sic for three weeks, 24/7. I’d long the­o­rised that vi­bra­tions from sound could af­fect the growth of bac­te­ria, so why wouldn’t cheese ma­ture bet­ter to mu­sic? The re­sults were fas­ci­nat­ing. Whether the cheese lis­tened to the mu­sic or not, the tasters cer­tainly ex­pe­ri­enced a new ex­pe­ri­ence. Pro­duc­ing and pre­serv­ing an old-world tra­di­tion in the new world is a brave, sub­ver­sive act of food ad­ven­ture. We want the dis­cus­sion to con­tinue about the range of com­plex­ity and vari­ables at play in com­pos­ing ver­i­ta­ble farm­house NZ cheese.

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