This year's winning rounds and great ways to use them
Puhoi Valley Kawau Blue by Puhoi Valley Cheese has taken the supreme title at this year's New Zealand Champion of Cheeses Awards, announced in Auckland on March 1.
You'll find it in stores sold as Puhoi Valley Gorgonzola-style Blue. It is the first time in five years that a blue cheese has won the highly sought-after Countdown Champion of Champions Cheese Award for large cheese producers.
It seems 2016 is going to be a very good year for the blues - Kapiti Kahurangi from Fonterra Brands NZ also won the New World Champion Favourite Cheese Award by public vote.
Twenty three category winners were announced at a gala dinner at The Langham, Auckland, whittled down from a massive 420 entries which were examined by international and local cheese experts.
Puhoi Kawau Blue was described by judges as an excellent example of a mild to medium flavoured blue cheese. “This has great rind development and superb even blue distribution. The texture is creamy with a great balance of spicy, savoury and sweet flavours,” Master Judge, Russell Smith said.
The full list of 2016 category winners
Countdown Champion of Champions Cheese Award: Puhoi Valley Kawau Blue – Puhoi Valley Cheese
Puhoi Valley Champion Artisan Cheese Award: Mercer Extra Mature Gouda – Mercer Cheese
Milk Test NZ Champion Cheesemaker Award: Jeanne van Kuyk – Aroha Organic Goat Cheese
Food for Chefs Champion Butter Award: Westgold Unsalted Butter – Westland Milk Products
Green Valley Dairies Champion Yoghurt Award: Symbio Probalance Blueberry Wholegrain Yoghurt – Fonterra Brands NZ
The Langham Champion Fresh Unripened Cheese Award: Over The Moon 'Volcano' – Over The Moon Dairy Company
Kiwi Labels Champion Feta Cheese Award; Origin Earth Feta – Origin Earth
Innovative Packaging Champion Soft White Rind Cheese Award: Grinning Gecko Brie – Grinning Gecko Cheese Co
180 degrees Champion Goat Cheese Award: Aroha Raw Milk Jubilee – Aroha Organic Goat Company
NZ Chefs Association Champion Sheep Cheese Award: Mercer Pecorino – Mercer Cheese
Thermaflo Champion Washed Rind Cheese Award: Puhoi Valley Cellar Range Washed Rind – Puhoi Valley Cheese
Ecolab Champion Blue Cheese Award: Puhoi Valley Kawau Blue – Puhoi Valley Cheese
Eurofins NZ Champion European Style Cheese Award: Farmhouse Mature – Crescent Dairy Goats
AsureQuality Champion Dutch Style Cheese Award: Meyer Tasty Gouda – Meyer Gouda Cheese
Ministry for Primary Industries Champion New Cheese Award: Matariki – Wangapeka Family Dairy
Primary ITO Aspiring Cheesemaker Award: Loran Mathis - Over The Moon Dairy Company
Fonterra Co-operative Group Champion Original Cheese Award: Pumahana – Karikaas Natural Dairy Products
Cheeselinks Champion Flavoured Cheese Award: Origin Earth Smoked Sheep Cheese– Origin Earth
Tetra Pak Champion Cheddar Cheese Award: Kapiti Tuteremoana Cheddar – Fonterra Brands NZ
Renco New Zealand Champion Export Cheese Award: Puhoi Valley Fresh Goat – Puhoi Valley Cheese
New World Champion Favourite Cheese Award: Kapiti Kahurangi - Fonterra Brands NZ
Caspak Champion Cheese Packaging Award: Dairyworks Grated Cheese range– Dairyworks
Curds & Whey Champion Home Crafted Cheese & Cheesemaker: Sentry Hill Quark – Phillippa White
Getting the blues: How to use those winners
Angela Casley's pear and blue cheese jalousie (tart) puts blue cheese into a dessert with fresh pears.
And try blue cheese with the last of summer's sweetcorn in this moist cornbread from Peter Gordon.
Know your cheeses
World renowned cheese expert Juliet Harbutt offers tips on how to create your own cheeseboard and she explains the seven main types of cheeses.
For homemade crackers, dips and chutneys to add to your cheeseboard, see our recipe collection.
More cheesy recipes
Because it's fig season and because they go so very well with cheese, try this delicious yet simple fig, mozzarella and proscuitto salad.