Prepare for a ride – Mt Eliza Red Leicester

Over the hill and down the rabbit hole. A cheesy road-trip to the Wairarapa was in order when I saw Mt Eliza’s raw milk Red Leicester was back in stock at C’est Cheese in Featherston.

This is just the second batch of Mt Eliza’s raw milk cheese released so for a cheese geek like me it’s exciting news.

The law changed in 2011 allowing the sale of cheese made from raw milk although there are still only a handful who have managed to get certified by the Ministry of Primary Industries. So big ups to Chris and Jill Whalley of Mt. Eliza Cheese in Katikati, Bay of Plenty.

Red Leicester is a semi-hard aged cheese, made in a similar way to cheddar. The deep orange colour comes from annatto, a natural dye that has been added to this type of cheese for hundreds of years. Originally it was introduced into the recipe to mimic the orange hue of cheeses made from rich creamy milk.

Slightly crumbly, I’m lured in by its fruity, Russian fudge aroma. Then biting into it, these widen out to toasty, nutty butterscotch. The flavours tilt and slide, burnt pineapple notes roll across my pallette, and spicy green capsicum flavours surge and subside, finishing by settling back into a satisfying caramel. What a ride!

This complexity is what I love about aged cheeses and it is undoubtedly amplified when they’re made from raw milk.

Such a grand cheese deserves a great drop, and I splurged on a bottle of Amontillado Sherry and for good measure an Emerson’s Bookbinder, which is a traditional mid-strength British style beer.

The sherry intensified the rich hazelnut flavours, and the beer highlighted its fruity notes.

Delicious and well worth the trip over the hill.

Wellingtonians, Featherston is a great weekend jaunt. Brunch at the Everest cafe, pop into C’est Cheese to see Paul for cheese, pick up fantastic baguettes from the bakery down the road and head home in time for afternoon tea. Superb.
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