Cheese

Klein River Cheese – Stanford, South Africa

There are times coming to a new place feels like coming home. Klein River Cheese is such a place. So heartily greeted and taken care of. Klein River cheese neatly nestled along the Klein river with a huge park garden, just outside Stanford in the Stanford valley. It´s definitely a farm, but most of all a farm dairy, they do not do dairy farming themselves, but buy their milk from a few surrounding farmers, partly family.

Klein river cheese
Some of Klein River Cheese’s assortment served in their garden.

The cheese they make at Klein River Cheese vary from soft to hard and the most famous is their Gruberg, a Swiss alpine style reminiscent of a Gruyère. This cheese is also included in the Academy of Cheese library, quite an honour that is. But they have a good variety of cheese from young to very well matured, washed rind and natural rinds. They even have a cheese called Parmesan which they are allowed to in South Africa. A couple of Danish varieties, too – Havarti and Danbo. No Norwegian though, how can that be? What about using some of the whey from the cheese making to make a brown cheese. I am sure most South Africans have a sweet tooth, so that would be a hit.

We plan to visit Klein River Farm on our South Africa trip November 2024. On my visit I was lucky enough to be guided around the whole dairy included the huge maturing area. I must admit it takes a brain smarter than mine to keep track of all those cheeses and which is ready when. They’re doing very well, so there is definitely a system. We cannot expect to have a whole group guided through the dairy but my hope is that we can sit down in the garden or at The Veranda for a cheese tasting with wine, or perhaps beer for a change, and listen to their story. I am sure that will be a wonderful memory to take home. They make fantastic cheeses, well worth tasting.

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Why Cheese and why should you go there?

cheese
Il sapore dei prati – The taste of the meadows. Panel discussion on climate change.

Cheese 2023 is history, but those attending have most probably gone home with new knowledge, ideas and fresh impulses whether you make cheese, sell it, or is just a nerd that cannot be surrounded by enough cheese. This festival in Bra, let’s call it a festival, is cheese for tasting, for buying and exploring. And of course it is networking, meeting up with people you know and connect with new ones. There are seminars and panel discussions, this year’s topic was Meadows, the fact is they are slowly disappearing. All over. If you want biodiversity, if you want terroir, well then you also need meadows. That simple.

Two years till next Cheese

You’ve got time to plan in other words. Arranged in Bra by the Slow Food Foundation which resides in Bra. The whole town is enjoying the massive influx of people and is involved in Cheese one way or the other. So what should you plan to do? You can just stroll around, take in the atmosphere, taste cheese, sit down for a coffee (and a grappa if you like), have light or heavy lunches, talk to people at the huge number of stands around the town, taste wine and cheese at the large tasting hall, listen in to panel discussions, seminars, go to guided tastings. Mostly with wine, but there were cheese with beer, with grappa, and unfortunately the one with coffee was cancelled. To secure a ticket for the tasting you have to book early. Some of the activities are free, others are payable, typically such as the guided tastings. Slow Food is also concerned with tradition so they have programs to help threatened breeds, products or other related issues to survive. Not only cheese, anything food.

Cheese
Cheese for any palate

Who should go?

Anyone with a special interest for cheese. Being a producer – big or small, trader, merchant, journalist, nerd, foodie, chef. Well anyone dealing with something cheese related or just enjoying it and are curious about the cheese world. it is so diverse, you really cannot imagine before you have been there. This was my third time visiting and i had the pleasure of guiding a small group as I did last time.

Also read: Alpine cheese, is the older always the better?

Cheese always have a theme

This year it was all about meadows. The sad fact is that they are disappearing. Fast. In the mountains a well as at the flatlands. Giving way to urban development. This has an impact on our food supply as well as our climate, pretty basic both of them for our survival. Sounds very dramatic of course, but the thing is if we let this just continue that’s where we’ll end up. Not in my life time, but one day.

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L’Ami du Chambertin and Pinot Noir (On the Wild Side)

l'ami du chambertin
L’Ami du Chambertin

The Cheese

L’Ami du Chambertin cannot boast centuries of history as it is a relatively new cheese from a French perspective. Born, or created, in 1950 by Raymond Gaugry at their family dairy just south of Dijon, in Chevrey-Chambertin. Not being a native Burgundian, he came from the Berry province of the Loire and started out as a laitier, it was probably exciting to create something new, although based on long-lived local traditions. L’Ami du Chambertin is an Epoisses style cheese. No doubt. A washed rind cheese, or stinker if you like. Very Burgundian. It is said you can succeed with anything in France, irrespective of your origins, as long as you speak the language. No problem for this newcomer to the area, of course, so perhaps no surprise the vignerons of Chevrey- Chambertin took the cheese to their hearts and loved it, having a good bite of cheese with their own famous wine. And from this immediate love affair emerged the name. It should be said, l’Ami du Chambertin appears in three variants; au lait cru, au lait termisé and au lait pasteurisé. All the same size, about 200 grams and boxed.

The wine

L'Ami du Chambertin
Pinot Noir (On the Wild Side)

The Schatz family took bigger steps. Originally from Trentino in South Tirol, they moved to South Germany and have been involved in viticulture there since 1641. Quite some time that is. Not so for our wine though. Friedrich Schatz wanted to enter the wine business, but somewhere with a better climate than South Germany. His search around various European countries ended in Ronda, Spain in 1982, well 10 kilometres outside the Ronda town. He had to start with learning the language. As a primus motor for the wine farmers in the area they have together succeeded in becoming a qualified area for growing wine, not just the sweet wines as was the tradition, but dry whites, reds and rosés. The winery is organic and bio-dynamic, situated 700 m above sea level secluded between the the Sierra de Grazalema and the Sierra de las Nieves protecting them from the strong eastern and western winds, but with hot days and cool night and a suitable influx of coolness from the Atlantic Ocean.

The red from the Chevrey-Chambertin are bold, rustic Pinots. Not necessarily silky and smooth. Which is a match in heaven for the l’Ami du Chambertin which is a rather bold cheese with opulent flavours, not to speak about the aromas. So the F. Schatz Pinot Noir is a Chevrey-Chambertin in disguise? No I would not say that. The current release 2016 is describes by the bodega as delicate with floral touches of rose petals with spicy hints of pepper and cloves on the nose and with red intense and enveloping fruit. Balsamic, mineral, with a very elegant finish in the mouth.

But, that is the 2016 vintage. There is however another wine that you will not find in their web page. The “Pinot Noir On the Wild Side”. That’s the name. Only available in Norway, a special cuvée bottled for the Norwegian market only, and a limited release – 600 bottles. The 2022 vintage, direct from the stainless steel tank after six months in there. Raw, fresh fruity and rustic with balanced acidity and intense red fruits. A wonderful wine and a match in heaven for the l’Ami du Chambertin which requires just this wine. The only other thing you may need is some country bread.

L'Ami du Chambertin
A Combination made in Heaven

Pairing

L’Ami du Chambertin (au lait cru) and F. Schatz Pinot Noir 2022 (On the Wild Side). These two together will lift the flavours to a higher unity. Not much more you need for a picnic. A country style bread. And accompanying music, perhaps: “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” by Lou Reed. That’ll be some picnic, I promise.

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Portuguese cheese, a 101 introduction

Portuguese cheese
Portuguese cheese of raw ewes’ milk and bread

Portuguese cheese has a rich history that dates back centuries and is an important part of the country’s culinary tradition. Portugal is known for its diverse range of cheeses, each with its unique flavors and characteristics. Let’s explore the history and some particulars of Portuguese cheese. For me personally, they are a favourite, because they are so good, but also because they are special, different from most other cheeses, but also because they are very rare if at all available here where I live.

The History of Portuguese cheese – in short

The origins of cheese-making in Portugal can be traced back to ancient times. The Romans introduced cheese-making techniques to the region during their occupation. Over time, Portuguese cheese production developed and flourished, influenced by different cultures, techniques, and local ingredients. Cheese in Portuguese is called queijo by the way.

Some particulars

Most of the artisan cheeses produced on the mainland are made using ewe’s milk but there are also some goats’ milk cheeses. The famous cows’ milk cheeses are from the Azores. The ewes’ milk cheeses are oftenmost made using vegetal rennet; cardoon to be specific, while the cows’ milk cheeses from the Azores archipelago is made with animal rennet.

Types of Cheese

Queijo Serra da Estrela: This is one of Portugal’s most famous cheeses, made from raw sheep’s milk. It has a creamy texture and a strong, slightly acidic flavor. This cheese is from the mountainous region in central Portugal, Serra de Estrela is the highest mountain on the mainland. The cheese is made using milk from Bordaleira sheep and is traditionally consumed melted or spooned out of its rind. Bigger than the ewes’ milk cheeses mentioned below.

Queijo de Azeitão: A small, soft cheese made from sheep’s milk. It has a buttery texture and a slightly salty taste. It is often consumed as a spread.

Queijo Serpa: Produced in the Alentejo region, this cheese is made from raw sheep’s milk and has a semi-soft texture. It has a distinctive flavor and aroma.

Queijo de Nisa: Another sheep’s milk cheese, Queijo de Nisa is semi-soft with a smooth texture. It has a mild, slightly salty taste. This cheese along with Azeitão and Serpa are all from the Alentejo region in southern Portugal, renowned for its sheep’s milk cheeses

Sao Jorge: Originating from the Azores islands, Sao Jorge to be specific, this cheese is made from cow’s milk. It has a firm texture and a rich, buttery flavor. The Azores archipelago, particularly the islands of São Jorge and Terceira, is known for its production of cow’s milk cheese. These cheeses have a firm texture and a tangy, slightly spicy flavor.

Portuguese cheese is enjoyed both domestically and internationally, and it is often paired with local wines, fruits, or honey. The country’s cheese-making traditions continue to be celebrated, and new variations and flavors are constantly being explored by local producers.

Suggested pairings

Portuguese cheese and wine pairings can be delightful, as the country produces a wide range of both. Here are a few recommendations for cheese and wine pairings from Portugal.

Queijo Serra da Estrela with Douro Red Wine. The rich and creamy Queijo Serra da Estrela pairs beautifully with a robust red wine from the Douro region. The wine’s structure and tannins complement the cheese’s strong flavors.

Queijo de Azeitão with Moscatel de Setúbal. The soft and buttery Queijo de Azeitão harmonizes well with the sweet and aromatic Moscatel de Setúbal. The cheese’s saltiness contrasts with the wine’s sweetness, creating a delightful balance.

Queijo Serpa with Alentejo Red Wine. The intense and slightly acidic flavors of Queijo Serpa match nicely with a full-bodied red wine from the Alentejo region. Look for wines made from the Trincadeira or Aragonez grape varieties.

São Jorge Cheese with Port Wine. The semi-hard São Jorge cheese pairs wonderfully with a rich and full-bodied Port wine. The cheese’s nutty and slightly spicy flavors match well with the sweetness and complexity of the fortified wine.

Remember, these are just suggestions, and personal preferences may vary. Feel free to explore different combinations and experiment with your own pairings to discover your favorite combinations of Portuguese cheese and wine.

Further reading

For more on Portuguese cheese check out this page.

This post is created partly with the help of Chat OpenAI.

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