A few weeks ago I got to taste some of the delicious award winning cheeses which are sold exclusively at Woolworths, at the Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine in Hilton. The tasting was a delectable prelude to the Woolworths Cheese Makers Challenge competition which takes place in June and July this year.
I’ve long been a fan of Woolies cheese and it’s my go-to place when on the hunt for a selection for a picnic, party, or just an excuse for cheese and wine at home! The smellier the better for me – I’m a bit obsessed with blue cheese served with fig or ginger preserve… yum. But really, any cheese will do – the joy of a smorgasbord variety of them, accompanied with olives, biscuits, grapes and fruit is the easiest way to make me happy – simple girl with big Mediterranean tendencies ;)
So pair Woolies cheese and Jackie Cameron and you have a match made in foodie heaven!
I hadn’t visited the school before and that was a treat in itself – the most beautiful grounds, with a magnificent view and state-of-the-art kitchens make this a must-visit culinary destination. I was delighted to find out that Jackie also hosts cooking classes for the average joe – so I have a weber braai class in mind for sometime in the next few months.
Back to the cheese though. I knew that Woolies was famed for having an amazing selection, but wasn’t aware that a lot of the cheese is locally produced in our Natal Midlands. Chrissie Briscoe, from Chrissie’s Country Cheeses, Barbara Robertshaw & her team from Indezi and Dimitri from The Gourmet Greek were at the event and all produce cheese for Woolworths locally.
The Woolworths Cheese Makers Challenge competition is in its 5th year and invites passionate local producers to submit their artisanal products, for judging by a panel of independent cheese experts. Winners have the opportunity to have their cheese listed and sold in Woolworths stores.
There are a few entry categories: hard cheese, semi-hard cheese, wash rind cheese, white mould cheese, blue mould cheese, fresh cheese and cheese with added foodstuffs, so we were treated to a table laden with a huge variety, along with an array of hot and cold dishes paired with Woolies cheese, prepared by Jackie Cameron.
Needless to say I rolled back down the hill to Durban – it was all delicious!
And I also have a much bigger appreciation for the work Woolies do to support & promote local cheesemakers – I will definitely be on the lookout for more of the local selection when I’m next stocking up.
Woolworths Cheese Makers Challenge details:
Visit the website to download the entry form and terms & conditions.
Entries are due by 30th June 2016 and products to be submitted by no later than 19th July 2016.
Judging takes place on 21st July 2016.
Fingers crossed for our KZN producers!
* Here’s a list of the cheese we tasted – my favourites were the De Leeuwen by Fairview and the oozy Saint Louis. Thanks to Suzy Regan for this info.
Brie de Roche – Fairview Estate, Paarl
Made from a blend of Jersey & goat’s milk, this traditional style white mould cheese has an intense rustic flavour and barnyard aroma, with a slightly chalky heart that will ripen to a soft creamy texture.
Saint Louis – Fairview Estate, Paarl
Is a triple cream cylindrical cow’s milk cheese with a white, bloomy rind. It has a soft buttery texture, tangy edible rind and tastes like an intense version of Brie. Cream is added to the cheese during manufacture and it is ripened for approx. 15 days from the outside in. It is made exclusively for Woolworths by Fairview, Paarl and is named after expert cheese maker – Louis Lourens.
Lanquedoc – Dalewood Fromage, Franschhoek
Lanquedoc ™ is a semi-soft washed rind surface-ripened cheese made from 100% Jersey cow’s milk. It has a delicate complexity, with savoury character and a very smooth and creamy texture.
Royal Ashton – La Montanara, Ashton, Western Cape
Produced from Jersey milk at the foothills of the Langeberg mountains, this cheese is matured for up to 2 months to give a full sweetish, nutty flavour.
Overberg – Klein River
Overberg is an aged Gouda-style cheese made from pasteurised cow’s milk. Matured for 5 months, this firm, ivory-coloured cheese has a rich, robust flavour.
Kilimanjaro – Belnori Boutique Cheesery, Johannesburg
Kilimanjaro was named the winner of the 2012 Woolworths Cheese Makers Challenge and also received a silver medal at the 2012 World Cheese Awards. Kilimanjaro is made from the milk of Swiss Saanen goats, most of which have been reared on the property and is a curd-washed, truckle shaped cheese which has been matured for 4 months to allow the nutty flavour to develop.
Oak Smoked Stanford – Klein River Cheesery, Stanford, Western Cape
The production of Oak Smoked Stanford was inspired by a study tour in France. The cheese maker, Jacko Van Beulen developed this magnificent hard cheese and named it after their local village, Stanford. It is matured for 3-4 months and smoked using a cold smoking technique the old fashioned way, controlling the draft and temperature by hand. Oak shavings from wine barrels are used and this gives it a unique flavour. The Stanford is smoked by Sean Hormann at The Aphrodisiac Shack Traditional Smokehouse, which is located on the banks of the Theewaterskloof dam just outside Villiersdorp.
De Leeuwen – Fairview, Paarl
Semi-hard washed rind cheese with blue veins. This cheese is made from Jersey milk and matured for 4 weeks to give a strong robust flavour.