Cheese is arguably one of the finest culinary creations in the history of culinary creations, and that’s why we’ve picked out three of the best we have on offer to enlighten you on what makes them so special. From which palates they suit, what they pair with and what they look like, we’re breaking the mould with some truly unique products.
But first, where do these outrageously delicious cheeses come from in South Africa?
Belnori Boutique Cheesery
The Belnori Boutique Cheesery is situated on a fifteen-acre black wattle plantation belonging to Norman and Rina Belcher in Bapsfontein. For some time they’ve been producing artisan cheeses from their goat herd and, more recently, cheeses with 100% full-fat jersey cow’s milk, as well as exciting cow/goat combinations. The results are astounding as this humble farm continues to churn out world-class creations.
Gay’s Guernsey Dairy
Gay van Hasselt started what is now known as Gay’s Guernsey Dairy back in 1990 when she started milking three cows in a stone kraal. She soon discovered that there was a demand for fresh milk in the community and started selling to a few customers who would arrive with their empty containers and get their daily supply of milk and later cheeses and yoghurt. Gay’s Dairy is now an institution in the Great Karoo town of Prince Albert, where locals and visitors convene to enjoy handmade dairy products that are consistently brilliant. The family and staff of Gay’s Dairy place a huge emphasis on their herd of free-ranging, happy Guernsey cows.
Gay’s persistence has paid off, and after winning numerous international awards in London, Dublin & France, her cheeses are now receiving acclaim across the country and indeed the world.
This small boutique cheesery is named after the 100-year-old Kokerboom that lives in cheesemaker David Malan’s front garden, and all of their cheeses are named after the majestic flora & fauna living on the west coast. Kokerboom’s mission is to create a small range of cheeses with local flair that can’t be found in a supermarket.
Their secret is to combine single herd golden Guernsey full-fat milk and local west coast Khoisan salt, which is rich in beta-keratin, in their cheesemaking process. The result is an elegant range of cheeses that get better and better with age.
You’d be forgiven if you needed a double-take after seeing a few of the names of the cheeses in our range, but their exotic names are most certainly matched by their pedigree and quality. Here are three cream-of-the-crop products which have risen to the top of their game.
St Francis of Ashisi
This artisan creation from Belnori Boutique Cheesery is a 50% goat, 50% cow’s milk cheese and that hybrid nature makes it an accessible product for all palates. Less adventurous cheese-lovers might be put off by strong pure goat’s cheese characteristics, but the St Francis of Ashisi is perfectly balanced and creamy. Its curd is coated in vegetable ash which is then carpeted in a Penicillium Camemberti snow (a fungus species used in the creation of a variety of creamy cheeses).
This cheese is constructed in such a way that cutting into it is almost as if you’re breaking through a decadent cake. Not only is it exquisitely good looking, but it backs that up with a subtle yet dynamic flavour profile that is well-rounded and leaves the cheese lover wanting more. Because of its phenomenal depth of flavour boasting subtle hints of earth, ash and mushroom, you’ll struggle to find a creamier semi-soft cheese than this one, and there’s little wonder why it was named as Product of the Year at the 2019 South African Dairy Championships.
The creamy paste of this cheese combines well with sharp accompaniments but its elegant flavour carries its own weight as it coats every corner of the mouth. Specifically, it dovetails nicely with slow-roasted tomatoes, cured pork neck or cold smoked trout. Despite its somewhat peculiar nature, St Francis of Ashisi is accessible to most cheese lovers and adds an undeniably classy finishing touch to celebrate a meal.
View the St Francis of Ashisi
The best and most well-defined cheddar cheeses are slightly sour and sharp with a colour ranging from white to orange, and their inherent flavour should intensify as they mature. The Regal from Gay’s Guernsey Dairy ticks all of these boxes in a big way, and some, making it an epic strong cheddar.
The unpasteurised raw Guernsey A2 protein milk used in production means that the Regal is laden with subtle nuances which elevate it to a level over and above your run-of-the-mill cheddar variations. It’s versatile in its pairing ability and can be incorporated into any hosting spread because of its agreeable and universal nature. The maturation period lends pure intimacy and intensity of flavour to this cheese meaning that it almost stings the back molars but in the best way humanly possible. Design a sandwich with Gay’s Regal and you’re unlikely to go back.
View the Gay’s Regal Cheddar
Blue cheese lovers: assemble. Kokerboom Kaas has produced an outstandingly intense and delightful wheel of deliciousness that will boldly resonate with your taste buds. It showcases the full spectrum of flavour complexity from earthy to umami, salty to slightly sweet and creamy mouth-coating paste that finishes with a peppery Roquefort burn at the tail. True artisan cheesemaking can produce beautiful things, and the Black-winged stilt is a shining example.
View the Black-Winged Stilt
Cheeses of this calibre might easily be regarded as luxury food items but after trying them a few times, it’s easy to see how they can quickly become necessities, especially in the context of celebrating meals and occasions.
Browse our full and extensive dairy products range that features these three champions cheeses and a whole lot more.