Cave’s for ageing cheese in New Zealand are plentiful. Kiwis are literally tripping over them, they are everywhere, and it would be great to have access to them once again.
With many operations overseas to take inspiration from, I love the the cheese cave at Fort St Antoine of Marcel Petite, a great example of what New Zealand could follow. It was converted in the early sixties as a place to age cheese, as it offers the above environment ideal for maturing Comté. NZ is nuclear free right, make cheese not war!
Like Fort St Antoine, Auckland’s North Head is a former subterranean army fort, sunk into the side of a hill, fortified with thick stone walls. Auckland’s Community Relations Programme Manager – told me Auckland’s North Head reserve was ‘established for historic heritage purposes and the tunnels are currently open to the public on a daily basis in that context. I regret to say that I would not consider entertaining a commercial cheese operation on the site.’
DOC suggested a number of other sites in Auckland: lava caves managed by Auckland City Council, the underground magazine complex at Kauri Point managed by the defence forces, and a huge tunnel complex from WW II at the end of Whangaparaoa peninsula managed by the defence forces. Cool eh. I emailed Lieutenant Commander Barbara Cassin, her ‘unclassified’ reply: ‘all the tunnels are currently in use for training and other purposes.’ Bummer.
And what of the tunnel complex under Albert Park in Auckland City? Crazily blocked off and partly filled in; although there was a man who had a concession for reopening these, which fell through for one reason or another. (*Update 16.09.12* There is a campaign to reopen them gaining steam, find out more at AlbertParkTunnels)
Then there’s the multitude of abandoned rail tunnels, coal mines, wells, tomos and privately owned lava caves scattered right across the country. Why are not doing cool stuff with these resources? Some have suggested blowing out the side of a hill with dynamite. No need I reckon, there are plenty out there already.
So, what I’m looking for:
A dark place. Objectionable microorganisms / disagreeable tastes develop in the light, solar light, and ultra violet light rays.
Somewhere with thick walls without windows, any thermal changes from the outside are reduced by insulation.
A temp of 10°C – 12°C, comfy for bacterial activity / ripening. No ripening will take place if it is cold. A cool room is for matured cheese to be cool like Fonzie (was Fonzie cool?) before sale.
The ability to release heat, and provide clean air with a gentle air flow to release this. Lot’s of water on the floor is cool too, to get a good mixture of air and water vapour – relative humidity.