The cheese with no name is a petite, palm-sized pleasure that punches way above its own weight. A soft-ripened sheep’s milk disc with a thin natural-bloomy rind of a creamy yellow to off-white colour, it is indeed a complex mouthful. The paste is an unctuous fudgy yellow; soft, rich and thick, with strong earthy undertones and a gentle sweetness. The sheep’s milk is really creamy and very high in milk solids yielding twice as much cheese per litre of milk than cow’s milk.

Phillippa White from Sentry Hill Organics in the Hawkes Bay only makes ‘low maintenance’ cheeses, while the trajectory of The Cheese With No Name to market has been anything but. I spent the best part of a year taking the pilot version we called ‘The Cheese With No Name’ into kitchens everywhere while we waited for MPI to issue notice it could be sold legally.

When MPI finally gave us the green light to bring the cheese to market, the season was just winding up so we’d effectively lost a whole season’s output of milk. The positive was that by then its whakapapa and journey was clear. To help launch its newly-found legal status we decided to mature the cheese to heavy metal music for three weeks, 24/7. I’d long theorised that vibrations from sound could affect the growth of bacteria, so why wouldn’t cheese mature better to music? The results were fascinating. Whether the cheese listened to the music or not, the tasters certainly experienced a new experience. Producing and preserving an old-world tradition in the new world is a brave, subversive act of food adventure. We want the discussion to continue about the range of complexity and variables at play in composing veritable farmhouse NZ cheese. / sabato.co.nz

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