Cuisine Cheese Watch / Poukawa Fog – Nieuwenhuis Farmstead Cheese

By Cuisine2 Minutes
March 10, 2021By Cuisine

Four of my favourite words: lactic, Geotrichum, goat, cheese. The G word gets me very, very excited; a mould that makes cheese taste way more interesting and look delightfully animated and proud of its endeavours. Funky, naturally rinded cheeses are so often misunderstood in this brave new world of mass-produced generic hockey-puck cheeses pandering to the bacteriologically correct society. My four favourite words are a bold choice for any cheesemaker to produce. Like so many curd nerds in 2018, Annie and Geoff Nieuwenhuis from Hastings attended the first Great Eketahuna Cheese Festival. In the months leading up to the festival I’d been chatting with Annie about their cheese journey overseas, recipes and her herd of Anglo-Nubian, Saanen, and Toggenburg goats. The festival was a hoot, and meeting and hanging out with everyone helped to galvanise Annie’s resolve to make and sell proper cheese. Like a wrinkly, scruffy backcountry merino lamb on the outside, and snowy as a kōtuku on the inside, Poukawa Fog from Nieuwenhuis Farmstead  Cheese is distinctly different. Poukawa Fog is rolled by hand into logs and dusted in ash; the ash lowers the acidity of the surface of the cheese to help the Geotrichum multiply and grow, appearing through the ash to engulf the fudgy, close-textured paste. The difference in rind makes for a less ‘goaty’ cheese and more a yoghurty lactic Geotrichum goat’s cheese – my four favourite words again – with a slight gooey edge just under the rind. Fog is common in the Poukawa valley, especially in the autumn, and the Nieuwenhuis cheese room is perched high up on the hill overlooking the fog as it rolls up the valley. The cheese produced is light, dense, fudgy and creamy, thanks to the milk being permitted to slowly ripen and reveal a lactic expression. This expression in the fog changes each day, a magical supernature that the team at Nieuwenhuis observe, interpret, harvest and shepherd. The cheeses produced resonate with many a heartfelt talisman of their collective journey. Folks will write songs about it: I’ve written a couple already. CALUM HODGSON – THE CURD NERD