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