CUISINE CHEESE WATCH / Mahoe Blue – Mahoe Cheese, Bay of Islands

By Cuisine1 Minutes
October 30, 2019By Cuisine

Jake and Jesse make the cheese while their brother Tim looks after the cows on their farm based at Oromahoe, south of Kerikeri. They farm 60 cross-bred Friesian cows that graze on grass not grain. It should be no secret that happy grass-fed cows produce high-quality milk and yield characterful cheese. And Mahoe make very, very good cheese. I first met Mahoe cheesemaker, Jesse, in the UK, when I was slinging cheese for Neal’s Yard Dairy. He encouraged me to visit when I returned to New Zealand and when I did he surprised me with Mahoe Blue, a cheese we’d loosely discussed in London.

Mahoe Blue was kinda conceived as a respite from 30+ years of making sublime Edam and Gouda. The boys wanted to mix things up and play. The local demand for a blue cheese encouraged the idea, and the demand I had from restaurants really snowballed things… very quickly. Mahoe Blue is New Zealand’s most evangelical farmhouse cheese: a balanced fruity acidity without the bite and a creamy yet crumbly texture. Not that it’s indecisive in any way. I don’t know why it amuses me that Mahoe Blue is pierced with knitting needles, but it seems consistent with their approach to making cheese – simply and elegantly without fuss. Perhaps the only NZ cheesemaking operation that wants to get smaller and stay small.

Calum Hodgson is cheesemonger at Sabato