Portobello Franschhoek Angelot is South Africa’s Dairy Product of the Year, awarded at the SA Dairy Championships earlier this week. The winning cheese is a washed-rind cheese, and beat 779 other dairy products to receive the honour, evaluated by a panel of 40 local and international judges.
Washed-rind cheeses are difficult to perfect, as the Ayrshire milk-based cheese ripens from the surface inwards. The Agri-Expo media release explains that “..the fermentation process as well as the metabolism of fat and protein must be managed extremely well by the cheesemaker”. It is an extremely strong and pungent cheese, and the Portobello Franschhoek Angelot was judged to compare with the best of this kind of cheese from France. Washing the rind of the cheese as it matures changes the young cheese into a soft texture and its rind takes on an orange colour. As the cheese matures, the rind becomes sticky and reddish, and the aroma earthier, says the media release. “The paradox of a powerful aromatic rind and milder flavour is responsible for a veritable explosion in the mouth”. Despite its strong taste and aroma, the Portobello cheese impressed the judges enough for it to receive this accolade.
The Outstanding Dairy Quality Qualité Mark of Excellence was awarded to 26 dairy products: Parmalat received six quality awards for their Simonsberg Matured Cheddar, Woolworths Farmhouse Cheddar, Parmalat Extra Matured Cheddar, Woolworths Vintage Cheddar, Parmalat Vintage Cheddar, and Simonsberg Traditional Cream Cheese. Clover won three awards (Elite Mild Cheddar, Feta with herbs, Mild Cheddar), and DairyBelle (Fiddlers, IWS Slice – Cheddar), De Pekelaar Kaas (Boerenkaas, Matured Boerenklaas), Lancewood (Woolworths Cream Cheese Plain, Woolworths Mascarpone Plain), Rhodes Food Group (Woolworths Ricotta, Portobello – Angelot), and Van der Poel Kaas (Hollandse Gouda – Extra Belegen, Hollandse Gouda – Oud) won two awards each. Other winners were Anysbos Goat’s Milk – Halloumi), Fairview (Roydon Camembert), Goat Peter (Grison – Pecorino style), Le Montanara (Woolworths – Royal Ashton), Lausanne Dairies (Double Greek Yoghurt – Greek), Marcel’s Frozen Yogurt (Passion fruit), and Puglia Cheese (Pasta Filata Cheese – Burrata).
The SA Dairy Championships are the country’s largest dairy competition and Agri-Expo has been presenting it since 1834. According to Chief cheese Judge Kobus Mulder a rise in the quality of goat’s milk products can be seen, and especially goat’s milk yogurt can compete against the best cows’ milk yogurts on the market. “Producers are realising that the consumer’s taste and preferences are being refined and that they now increasingly expect products of higher quality,” he says. “Aged and washed-rind cheeses are also gaining on the milder, more traditional products – pointing to a more developed consumer taste.”
The award-winning cheeses can be tasted at the SA Cheese Festival, running until Monday at Sandringham, off the N1, midway between Cape Town and Paarl. Here is a link to the Portobello stand.
Agri-Expo, Tel (021) 975-4440. www.cheesesa.co.za, www.cheesefestival.co.za
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage