CUISINE ARTISAN AWARDS WINNERS DEMONSTRATE THE REWARDS OF A WHOLE LOT OF LOVE & HEAPS OF HARD WORK.
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.