#CheeseSolidarity in Eketahuna

It all started on one of the regular phone chats with Biddy while on my commute home; the return of a grassroots cheese event in provincial NZ, like they did in the good old days. The idea was to host a fun forum to highlight the expensive regulatory hoops NZ cheesemakers currently navigate in their pursuit to create a traditional dairy foodstuff. The timing of the #NZcheeseMonth seemed a good opportunity to ‘have a go’. So here we are.


Biddy is a NZ cheesemaking legend. She describes herself as a ‘late developing geriatric peasant’, working with her girls Dizzy, Holly, Isobel & Patsy to produce a talisman of their adventures.

Volunteers and offers of help have snowballed. This is a not for profit gig. This event has evolved it’s own mojo and positive energy with the shared goal of real NZ cheese run and managed by NZ cheese people. Where there is a will there is whey. Its a refreshing antidote to the other events on the NZ cheese calendar.

Details of the pop-up are here at Cwmglyn Farm. If you can’t make it – like me – a share of this post would help the promise of a vibrant sustainable future for small scale New Zealand farm cheesemakers.

biddy etiquette

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Undress me with your cheese

I admit it would appear I have a habit of stumbling into and posting images of scantily clad men and women posing with cheese, livestock or other assorted dairy apparatus. While I have blogged about a bunch of ‘interesting’ topics, my blog post Cheesemonger Photoshoot which featured naked cheesemakers and cheesemongers achieved a high level of blog traffic to this blog. I guess folks are as intrigued and curious about men & women getting their kit off in a cheesy scenario.


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Cinematic #CheeseSolidarity

Once upon a time I was a little bit of a film nerd, digesting all the good stuff that would never get shown on the big screens here in little young New Zealand. When I travelled I hunted these down and displayed them as my treasured trophies. While I’ve still own an eclectic collection of films, collecting & curating cheese is now my grown up prey.

Will Studd recently visited to film New Zealand cheesemakers for a New Zealand episode for his show Cheese Slices. I was delighted to help his team with making connections with the cheesemakers who were filmed and giving info on the lay of the land over here. I’m looking forward to seeing this when it’s released!

The films I’d love to have as part of my collection and share with a wider audience on the big screen.


Les chèvres de ma mere a film by Sophie Audier. The story of Maguy a cheesemaker of 40 years on an isolated plateau the Gorges du Verdon. Retiring Soon, she must give up her herd. She decides to sponsor a young farmer who wishes to move. Can we still transmit the taste of freedom?


Karls Käs a film by Martin Kilger, The story of the life of artist and musician Karl Gehring, a mountain cheesemaker from the Kappeler Alp in the Allgäu. His love of nature, his respect for lifeit’s about much more than just cheese, “It’s not the minute it has to fit”.


The Moo Man a film by Trufflepig Films. Filmed over four years on the marshes of the Pevensey Levels, a story of farmer Stephen Hook trying to save his family farm. Stephen  decides to turn his back on the cost cutting dairies and supermarkets, and instead stay small and keep his close relationship with the herd. However his plans to save the farm do not always go down well with his 55 spirited cows.


Die Käsemacher a film by Sarah Fasolin. The camera accompanies the cheesemakers for the summer; some seek solitude in the mountains while others had no idea what the Alp had in store for them. Farmers also have their say. They explain why they no longer manage the Alp itself. And they describe the changes that make them trouble. It leads to misunderstandings, to moments of happiness in the barn and in the cheese cellar. To tears of sadness. And to disputes over wages and leisure. Will the Summer end harmoniously? A documentary about the clash of two worlds.


Raclette Kirghiz by Sandra Hebler. The Kyrgyz nomadic tradition, have never learned to make cheese. During a trip to Kyrgyzstan a Swiss woman is sought on several occasions by shepherds who want to learn the basics of manufacturing. From Switzerland, Marlène Galletti travels to the mountains of Kirghizistan to go pass this knowledgeThe film explores the pastures of Kyrgyzstan in the chain of Tian Cian on the border of China, at 2800 metres, to see how to turn milk into cheese, in a yurt. AWESOME. Full feature available to view here.


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The Last Shepherd

Renato Zucchelli is the last pastor left in a metropolis. He has a dream: to bring his flock to the inaccessible center of the city to meet the children who have never seen his sheep, showing them that freedom and dreams will always be possible until there is space to believe in a last shepherd … who conquered the city with his flock and by the sheer force of his imagination.

Renato Zucchelli and others like him are not a fairy tale. (Renato is a genuine shepherd) They are the last shepherds, who continue to move their flocks among residential neighborhoods, cement, concrete mixers and palaces. This transhumance is a way of life in danger of extinction.

TRAILER: ‘El último pastor’ a film by Marcus Bonfanti an extraordinary document about those unsung warriors, of the lonely days living at the indifference of mankind.




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I ♥ Chicks and Cheese

I’m in touch with my feminine side. I think. My 4 sisters impressed this upon me, I’m the only boy. Now a man child, I’m still dismayed with my gender. Not to say that I’m considering a change no no. I just think ladies rule & guys are generally retarded. See: Cheesemonger Photoshoot I rest my case.

So I find myself knocking on the clubhouse door of the Official Circle Girls Cheese –  Les Filles à Fromages – a new group for women gathered to celebrate cheese. Awesome. Piss. Up. In. A. Brewery. With. Cheese. Women of New Zealand, consider a South Pacific chapter of this circle? I’ll pimp your gig with cheese. \m/

The curator at work at Du Fromage & Des Putes issues a disclaimer if offence taken at the hundreds of images of random chicks & cheese. Pretty weird, but good fun too. A fun spin on centrefolds printed in Culture Cheese Mag if the editor had a slow news day?

I’m a long time fan of The From’ Girls calendar from Fromages de Terroirs. In years past the girls have managed to piss off the bored and titillate geeks like me with their cheese. They’ve just released the 2014 calendar – the girls are getting jiggy in restaurants across Paris…

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Cheesemonger photoshoot

Cheese folks getting their their kit off sells cheese. The annual efforts of the From’ Girls are perhaps the most appreciated form of this art. I stumbled into the lads equivalent…

PS. While I love getting my kit off, I was clothed for my photoshoot. I’d rather folks taste the cheese.

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Chinese Cheese

I am a devotee of google. Gone are the days of being on a first name basis with my library team and having ‘my spot’ to sit & bury my nerdy head in Asterix books. All hail solo OCD information gathering pursuits! Besides, I can’t find any library books or written material about Chinese cheese. Many a cheese book largely ignores China, dismissing this HUGE population as lactose intolerant cheese surrender monkeys that don’t like the smell of cheese. That & it’s highly unlikely I’ll get to visit China anytime soon, reckon they can (and will) visit me instead. Guess I could pay for the trip smuggling infant milk formula in there to trade for traditional Chinese cheese? I’d love a Chinese cheese mule. This is both another contribution in English to setting the Chinese cheese record straight, and a scrapbook of my Chinese itchy travel feet using my google skills as my guide. 🙂

The internets say…

Cheeses made in northern China generally have a heavy, rich flavor, where those from the south are milker and have some similarities with Italian cheeses.

In the old Chinese days, cheese was associated with barbarian cultures so it was avoided.

Chinese tend to avoid uncooked foods, so alot of traditional Chinese cheeses are eaten cooked.

LE FROMAGER de PEKIN -The Cheese Maker of Beijing – gets a notable mention here as a new world cheesemaker. This is about the traditional old world Chinese cheeses that have been made & enjoyed by the Chinese since ages ago…

The cheeses…

Ru shan – The Mozzarella of the East

A cow milk cheese made in the grasslands of Yunnan by the Bai people. Ru shan means milk fan, referring to the shape of a fan. It is eaten either raw with sugar or  grilled or deep-fried.  To make it, fresh cow milk is warmed in a wok, then the curdling agent suan jiang is added. The curds are then removed, worked with the fingers and finally stretched over a bamboo frame to dry. See the video below to see it being made!


Imperial Court Cheese

A pudding served in a bowl made from cow milk & rice wine, it’s reported to have a balanced, sweet & sour taste. Is sometimes topped with raisins and melon seeds.

There was no herding in the plains around Beijing, so starting in the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) Mongol emperors in Beijing introduced cheese from Mongolia. During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), imperial chefs changed the recipe by adding wine made from glutinous rice to cows’ milk. The milk is mixed with wine, baked in an oven and cooled until it curdles.


Daliang Buffalo Cheese

The cheese’s origins date back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), when an Italian missionary who could not bear to see people throwing away extra buffalo milk showed locals how to make Italian cheese. The Chinese later adapted the recipe, adding white vinegar. To make Daliang buffalo cheese – maintain milk temperature, pour 1/3 cup white vinegar in a cup with a spoon, scoop a spoonful of heated milk into the cup, the milk immediately solidifies into lumps, mold and smooth curd with your fingers, squeeze out whey and residual vinegar,  soak in brine for 4 hours. The mild, sweet-and-salty cheese comes in thin, round flakes that are sold in a jar. WATCH Daliang buffalo cheese being made below!


Xinjiang Milk Knot

Made using cow or goat milk that is fermented, boiled and dried, Xinjiang milk knot’s are a dry cheese with a rough skin. Seems the more it’s chewed, the more sweet and sour flavours it releases.  The sweet type contains more fat and is more fragrant, the sour type is made with less fat & is less aromatic. The Kazkh nomadswho make it usually soak their milk knots in hot tea to soften it before eating, or chew it slowly. Less authentic milk knots are available in Shanghai, as pictured below.


Milk Tofu

Raw cow milk, usually colostrum, is coagulated, fermented and formed into blocks. A chese from Inner Mongolia, it is often steamed or grilled, soaked  in tea, and served with fried millet and braised mutton. Mongolians say it’s flavor and texture changes when it is cut into different sizes; thick slices are soft, milky, slightly sweet and sour; thin slices taste sweeter and melt in the mouth. Some make with ​​caramelised milk.

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