For the first time at Cheese (in Bra, Italy, September 20-23) a delegation of producers and experts from the Slow Food South African Raw Milk Cheeses Presidium will participate in the Presidia Market and Taste Workshops taking place during the event. It will be a unique experience for visitors to discover the excellence of this little-known sector within the country, which, as well as being economically important, enjoys a centuries-long history.
Thanks to the collaboration with the local Slow Food network, Slow Food recently launched the new South African Raw Milk Cheeses Presidium which brings together around ten producers from across the country. From the sub-tropical forests in the north, to the dry plains of Karoo and the mildly temperate hills of the Cape, the different landscapes of South Africa are expressed by the cheesemakers, who tell the stories of these lands through their unique products.
The work of the Presidium members is commendable for two reasons in particular. On one hand, the quality of each individual cheese is very high, while on the other the diversity that they bring together reflects the rich climates, landscapes and ecosystems of an immense and rich country, which completely disappears when looking at the standardized productions of large-scale cheese industries that dominate the South African market. The producers also pay particular attention to animal welfare, respect for the environment and the virtues of raw milk.
At the Taste Workshop taking place on Saturday, September 21 (sala Liceo Scientifico, 1pm) it will be possible to meet the delegation of producers and taste a selection of five Presidium cheeses:
1-2) Langbaken - Karoo Crumble and Karoo Ash Camembert
Francy and Peter Schoeman's Langbaken farm is located 30km from the town of Williston, in the heart of the semi-desert area of Karoo (central South Africa). Francy and Peter raise sheep and a small heard of about a dozen Jersey cows.
The Karoo Crumble is a semi-hard cheese with an intense flavor and hints of Karoo herbs. In 2013 the cheese won the first prize in the Raw Milk category at the National Dairy Championships.
The Karoo Ash Camembert is a classic Camembert, but ripened in ash. This treatment helps to lengthen the ripening phase, giving the cheese a strong taste and creamy heart.
3) Healey's Farmhouse - Cheddar
On the Lourensford Wine Estate of Somerset West, not far from Cape Town, James Healey produces this award-winning rich-tasting cheddar with hints of walnuts and a persistent aftertaste. It is made from the milk of Friesian cows that are raised on pastures and not treated with any hormones or steroids. It is currently one of the only cheddars in the world that is still aged in oiled muslin cloth.
4) Green Goose Organics - Ficksburger
Annecke and Reuter Sorour are the owners of the Green Goose, a family farm located near Ficksburg at the foot of the Lesotho mountains. At the Green Goose, cows are exclusively pasture-raised and are not subjected to hormonal or antibiotic treatments. The Ficksburger is a washed-rind cheese inspired by the Savoie Reblochon. The texture, which is quite compact to begin with, becomes creamier as the cheese matures. It is a balanced cheese, characterized by hints of herbs and a slightly bitter aftertaste.
5) Pépé Charlot - Bûche Affinée
At Craighall Park, a suburb of Johannesburg, Gérald Tanesse (also known as Pépé Charlot) produces cheeses inspired by the classics of his country of origin, France. The Bûche Affinée is one of the few raw goat's milk cheeses currently made in South Africa; the milk comes from a herd raised by researchers from the University of Pretoria. Bûche Affinée has a bloomy rind, soft texture and rich flavor.
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