Related News

Home » Feature » iDEAL

One way to beat French

DEEP in a sun-kissed valley under the watchful gaze of a group of goats lies a family farm that proudly proclaims it has the "gall to beat the Gauls."

The Fairview farm's camembert cheese has won the gold prize four times at the prestigious World Cheese Awards said to be the Oscars of the cheese industry.

Owner Charles Back said it proved that South Africa could hold its own against the rest of the world in producing top notch food and wine products. "That's globalization for you," he said.

One of the secrets of his success is the farm's 800 goats, which greet visitors from a specially designed spiral goat tower and munch grass in surrounding fields.

The goats' milk is mixed with creamy milk from a local herd of jersey cows to give the camembert the flavor of unpasteurized milk, which was traditionally used for soft cheeses but is banned in South Africa on safety grounds.

Good cheese

"You can make bad cheese out of good milk but you can't make good cheese out of bad milk," he said. "The same goes for wine."

Fairview's Roydon cheese - named after an employee who was killed in a car crash - stole the show from the French by winning the gold medal in the fiercely contested camembert category at the annual World Cheese Awards in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008.

Full-flavored and yet mellow, it is especially popular with European visitors to South Africa, whereas the locals usually prefer something more bland.

Chief cheese maker Louis Lourens, who has worked at Fairview for 19 years, is modest about his achievements and says the trick lies in good starter cultures.

"If you made cheese with a bit of passion and use the right technology, then anyone can do it," he said. But Veronique Richez-Lerouge, president of Association Fromages de Terroirs in France, which brings together 75 whole-milk cheese producers and vendors, disagrees.

"Camembert, they produce it just about everywhere, even in the Nordic countries, even in canned form ... It ruins the image of camembert," she said. "That they use our savoir faire, that's great ... but why give it the name camembert?"

She added that France should have legally protected the name so that it only applied to the cheese made from the whole milk of cows in Normandy. Otherwise, she said, "you can produce whatever you want under the name 'camembert'."

Lourens has visited France but said the French wouldn't let him into their factories. He daily samples nearly all the 17 varieties produced on the farm and yet still enjoys a nibble of cheese - with a good glass of wine - at home.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend