There were plenty of stunning cheeses at last week's Cuisine Champion of Cheese awards. Kerikeri artisan Mahoe Farmhouse Cheese certainly showed up the big boys, taking away the Cuisine Champion Artisan Award for its Very Old Edam. Their cheesemaker, Jacob Rosevear, was also named Champion Cheesemaker of the Year.

The dairy may be small but owners Anna and Bob Rosevear certainly know what they're doing. The couple started the operation 26 years ago and now run it with the help of their two sons, Jacob and Jesse, and three staff who have all been there for more than 20 years. They started with only Dutch cheeses but the range now includes blues, yoghurts and fresh cheeses.

The judges said of Very Old Edam, "This was a stand-out winner and a prime example of a beautifully crafted Dutch cheese. The intense tropical fruit flavour and the lingering, clean aftertaste combine with the light crunchy crystals to create an absolute taste delight." Couldn't have put it better myself.

They also received gold medals for their Cumin Gouda and Edam and silvers for their Very Old Gouda and Mature Gouda. These all have that fabulously creamy base taste with varying flavours and age giving them character. Jesse says "We eat the Very Old Edam or Very Old Gouda every day. Whether shaved over salads, new season asparagus, in pesto, on pasta or risotto, we think it's every bit as good as parmesan."


The fresh products are excellent too. The Mahoe yoghurts are full-cream set-in-the pot old-fashioned farm style and come in regular and Greek. The Greek is much thicker than the regular but neither have any additives, sugar or thickeners. They are basically just milk with acidophilus and bifidus cultures.

As natural as it comes.

We particularly liked the quark (a spreadable fresh cheese very popular in Europe). It would be amazing in a Swiss or German-style baked cheesecake. The blue is mild but extremely tasty. Sadly, it can be bought only locally, where it is gaining a big following, as is the washed rind cheese with its fabulously creamy texture.

There is also a haloumi-style, mozzarella and a wonderful ricotta as part of the stable.

All up we can see why Mahoe continues to pick up awards year after year. They stick to their artisan practices and keep things simple but still experiment with new styles, keeping regulars happy and new customers intrigued.

Where to buy:

Available at good delicatessens and health food shops from Northland to Taranaki. For full lists of stockists, see here.