Cuisine - - CONTENTS -

Cel­e­brat­ing the top achiev­ers in the Cui­sine Ar­ti­san Awards

CLEVE­DON BUF­FALO CO. Mar­i­nated Fresh Buf­falo Cheese with Roast Gar­lic & Thyme

“SPRING COMES, milk’s on and ev­ery­one wants to put the cheese on the menu.” So says He­len Dor­resteyn of Cleve­don Buf­falo Co, fresh from a sales trip to Welling­ton where she met chefs and re­tail­ers singing the praises of their fresh buf­falo-milk moz­zarella, yo­ghurt, mar­i­nated cheese and ri­cotta.

And after tast­ing this fresh cheese, mar­i­nated in roasted-gar­lic-andthyme-in­fused olive oil you can see why their prod­ucts, made from buf­falo milk pro­duced on their Cleve­don pad­docks, are such a hit. Fiona Smith, head judge of the Cui­sine Ar­ti­san Awards said, “It’s a to­tal de­light to the senses, with an ethe­real, cloud-like tex­ture, lux­u­ri­ous creamy mouth­feel and del­i­cate flavour that is en­hanced, not over­whelmed, by the ad­di­tion of thyme and gar­lic.”

Buf­falo milk is thicker than cow’s milk, but lighter, with a clean sweet taste, and it has twice the pro­tein and cal­cium, but only half the choles­terol. It’s also a much more del­i­cate milk to work with for cheese­mak­ing. But after rais­ing and milk­ing New Zealand’s first buf­falo herd for more than 10 years, He­len and hus­band Richard (pic­tured above) know a thing or two about these mas­sive beasts and their pure white milk.

“It’s so beau­ti­ful that it’s a waste to use it to make a cheese that could be made from any old milk,” says He­len. “You don’t want to chuck in too much flavour or you’ll mask the lovely taste of the milk.”

Orig­i­nally they in­tended to make a mar­i­nated feta. “We made a feta and it was nice, but not spec­tac­u­lar. We weren’t de­lighted with it, and that wasn’t good enough for us.” So they kept on ex­per­i­ment­ing, look­ing to cre­ate some­thing spread­able, some­thing lighter. It took six months of trial and er­ror, try­ing to get the right tex­ture, re­fin­ing the lev­els of gar­lic and thyme (some of which comes from He­len’s own gar­den) un­til they got to the point of, “Wow, this is re­ally cool!”

Cui­sine se­nior food writer Ginny Grant says that with such a pre­mium prod­uct she’s loath to play around with it, in­stead keep­ing it sim­ple so that the flavours shine through. How­ever, she does sug­gest that both the cheese and that de­li­cious oil go well tossed through a tan­gle of spaghetti spiked with chilli flakes and herbs, or dol­loped onto an Ital­ian-style frit­tata.

Hav­ing made the most of their milk prod­ucts, He­len and Richard are en­thu­si­as­tic about the ver­sa­til­ity of buf­faloes. The hide is su­perb for sad­dlery or footwear and He­len says that it’s beau­ti­ful meat for eat­ing, like beef but bet­ter, with a leaner, more gamey flavour. They hope to look into breed­ing for meat in the fu­ture, but for now they have their hands full.

“This year we’ve re­ally turned a cor­ner,” ex­plains He­len. “We’ve just got to hope like hell that we don’t get a drought this sum­mer." cleve­donbuf­falo.co.nz

Con­grat­u­la­tions to all the fi­nal­ists in the Cui­sine Ar­ti­san Awards. This year we've paired with the New Zealand Food Awards to cel­e­brate the mak­ers of New Zealand's best bou­tique prod­ucts and to­gether we salute all those who work so hard to craft the ex­cit­ing prod­ucts we show­case here. Tracy Whit­mey meets some of our top ar­ti­san pro­duc­ers.

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