Local and organic cheese is one of our passions, whether it’s lovingly melted on pizza, perfectly paired with fruit and wine, or counterpointing the crispness in a good Greek Salad.
Kallarney Blue, The Cheese Barn
October happens to be Cheese Appreciation Month, so we asked staff member (and cheese-lover) Kiri to share some of her favourite cheeses with us.
Kiri's been with us for two and a half years and runs the refrigerated department at Commonsense Kapiti. Before moving to New Zealand with her husband in 2013, Kiri worked on organic farms and with market gardening in the United States. Originally hailing from Wisconsin, it's fitting that Kiri ended up working with cheese. "Wisconsin is a big cheese place," Kiri says. "It's a bit ironic."
1. Goat Camembert, Over the Moon
Over the Moon are a relatively new supplier to Commonsense. Based in Putaruru, a small town in the Waikato, Over the Moon have been making cheese (and winning awards) since 2007.
Kiri is a big fan of their Goat Camembert. “It’s really lovely, really light,” she says. “It’s different from other camemberts.”
Being made of goat’s milk, this Over the Moon camembert may work well for people who can’t tolerate cow and sheep products. Because of its mild flavour, Kiri recommends paring it with crispy apples or juicy pears.
2. Tasty, Hohepa
“Hohepa cheeses are really special,” Kiri says. “They use biodynamic milk, and I honestly think you can taste the difference.”
Certified by Demeter, Hohepa are situated in the Hawkes Bay. They only make one kind of hard cheese, which they age to varying degrees.
When the cheese is young, it’s called ‘Danbo’ and sold as plain, cumin seed and herb & garlic variations. When the cheese is aged for more than 8 months, it becomes ‘Tasty’, a sharp and nutty hard cheese. Left even longer, the same cheese metamorphoses into ‘Vintage’, a crumbly cheese similar to Parmesan in texture, but with its own unique flavour.
“It’s really interesting to taste one cheese over its life,” Kiri says.
3. Organic Cheddar, Mainland
For an all-purpose everyday cheese, you can’t go past good old Mainland organic cheddar. “It’s the best value cheese we stock,” Kiri says. “And it’s really good too”.
If cow’s milk isn’t an option for you or your family, Kiri recommends Blue River’s mild and melty Sheep Feta as a excellent alternative.
4. Kallarney Blue, The Cheese Barn
The Cheese Barn is one of our most popular cheese brands. Certified by BioGro, The Cheese Barn are based in Matatoki, Thames.
Kallarney Blue is a good example of a solid creamy blue, Kiri says. Not too strong, not too mild: right down the middle. It’s made with vegetable rennet, so is suitable for vegetarians.
Kiri’s favourite way to use blue cheese is to put it on pizza with roasted beetroot. “When the cheese melts, it’s just divine," she says.
5. Cultured Cashew Cream Cheese, The Green Larder
Kiri’s aware she may upset some cheese-fanciers with this one. Cultured cashew cream cheese is a bit of a wildcard. “It’s not technically a cheese,” she says. “Green Larder is completely dairy-free. But also completely delicious.”
A Porirua-based company, The Green Larder supplies us with two varieties of cashew cream cheese: original and smoked. Containing organic ingredients, their cashew cream cheeses are both vegan and raw. Kiri would recommend spreading cashew cream cheese on crackers, toast, or using it as a dip with julienned vegetables.
6. Editor's Pick: Goat Cheese Dusted with Ash, Meredith Dairy
While not stocked at our Kapiti store, we're sure that Kiri would have picked this cheese if she had it at her finger-tips. One anonymous staff member even described it as the Jon Snow of cheese.
A visual shock to the system, this ash-dusted chevre is creamy and moreish on the tongue. Ash was traditionally used in cheese-making to protect the surface of young cheese, and is now used to enhance the flavour and complexity.
You can use this spirited cheese in salads or pizza, but our preferred method is simple: crackers, a glass of Sav and an absence of White Walkers.
Goat Cheese Dusted with Ash, Meredith Dairy
So there you have it: six of our best-loved cheeses for Cheese Appreciation Month. Have we missed out your favourite cheese? Tell us about it! Comment below or email email@example.com