There are approximately 4.2 million dairy cows in New Zealand. Thank goodness. Their top quality milk provides the opportunity for small and larger cheesemakers to experiment and deliver some of the best taste treats in the world. New cheeses such as burrata – a fresh mozzarella-like ball with a buttery inside from cheesemaker Viavio — won a gold medal this year’s NZ Champion Cheese Awards for the best fresh Italian-style cheese. And it’s deliciously decadent.
However, the country’s finest cheese was not of cow origin. The Countdown New Zealand Champion of Champions (commercial) was a gouda prepared from goat’s milk on a 155-hectare farm a 20-minute drive from Hamilton. Meyer cheese has been a consistent winner over the years. Ben and Fieke Meyer emigrated from Holland in 1983 and commenced making gouda in the Dutch tradition. Their son Miel is now general manager and his brother Geert who is the cheesemaker won the 2019 Champion Cheesemaker award
Another gouda — Mahoe Farmhouse Cumin from Northland — grabbed the Puhoi Valley Champion of Champions Boutique Cheese award.
Gouda is a versatile cheese, great for cheeseboards and salads and it’s also a marvellous melting cheese.
Australian Master Cheese Judge, Russell Smith said the awards for Dutch-style cheeses reflects the quality of these New Zealand creations. “I judge around the world and Dutch-style cheeses made in New Zealand rank with the best.”
GOAT GOUDA MELT
Simple but delicious. I used a hand cheese cutter that thinly slices the cheese into (approx.) five gram pieces. Creamy, delicate oyster mushrooms are becoming readily available from supermarkets.
100g oyster mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic crushed
1 cup baby spinach leaves
2-3 tablespoons balsamic dressing
2 thick slices ciabatta or similar, cut on an angle
75g Meyer Goat Gouda cheese, thinly sliced
1 medium tomato, sliced
Trim the mushroom stalks if preferred. Sauté in the oil for about 1 minute, until limp. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.
Toss the baby spinach leaves in the balsamic dressing.
Preheat a grill. Lightly toast the ciabatta on both sides.
Place half the cheese on top and grill until just melted. Top with the spinach, mushrooms, tomato and remaining cheese. Grill until the cheese has melted.
Serve as a light lunch with extra spinach salad on the side. Or serve as a snack. Serves 2.
Mainland Noble cheese is a versatile, low-fat tasty cheese and won the 2019 Champion Cheddar Award.
2 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon each: baking powder, sugar
pinch each: baking soda, salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
50g chilled butter, grated
1 cup (75g) grated low-fat Noble cheese
1 cup buttermilk
extra chopped chives to garnish
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, salt and chives in a medium bowl.
Rub the butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add the cheese and lightly mix. Stir in the buttermilk and mix to combine.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead gently 2-3 times. Pat or roll into 2cm thick piece about 21cm square.
Cut into 2.5cm strips. Tie each into a loose knot. Place on an ungreased baking tray then sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Garnish with the extra chives. Best served warm. Makes 6.
BAKED BRIE CROISSANTS
An easy lunch. This Puhoi Valley cheese was the category winner.
2 large croissants
50g brie eg Te Muri Triple Cream Brie
4-6 tablespoons tamarillo relish
2 large feijoas or 1 ripe pear, halved, peeled, cored and sliced
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cut the croissants in half. Thinly slice the brie and place on the croissant bases. Top with the feijoas or pear then the relish.
Place on a baking paper-lined baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. Serves 2.