Hello, friends! Truth be told, I returned from South Africa almost a month ago, but sometimes real life gets in the way of virtual life. Luckily, I managed to fit some cheese tasting into the Cape Town schedule and so have something interesting to write about! Also, something to look forward to: I’ll be around downstate NY for more weekends and you know what that means? Farmers market cheeses! But for the moment, let us focus on the lovely cheese of South Africa.
Anura Vineyards is located in the town of Paarl, about 30 minutes from the center of Cape Town. While we were there primarily to do a wine tasting, we were quite unable to say no to the complimentary cheese tasting. Their cheeses are produced under the title of Forest Hill Cheese.
As you can see from the photo, I was unable to capture the cheese display before the delicious cheese started to disappear from the plate. Clockwise from the top we have the camembert, brie, Swiss mountain cheese with pepper corn, Swiss mountain cheese with chives, marisch, and marisch with cayenne pepper. In the middle of the plate we have pepper, whiskey, and red wine jellies. You’ll have to excuse the lack of depth in my cheese analysis, I only have the notes that I was able to take on a napkin.
To start, the camembert was heavenly. As you may have noticed from this blog, Stephanie and I have a special place in our hearts for camemberts and this one left me feeling warm and fuzzy (and no, that feeling was not from all the wine). The brie was also well made with that familiar brie bite. The Swiss mountain cheese seems like a relatively bland cheese that is a great base for strong ingredients like peppercorn or chives. The added ingredients packed a lot of punch taste-wise, but in an enjoyable way. The marisch was new to me. From what I could gather from our hostess, marisch is a semi-soft, creamy mozerella blend. I found it mild, yet still tasty. Mostly, I used it as a vehicle to try the three jellies. The pepper jelly was good. The red wine jelly was rich and sweet, definitely my favorite. The whiskey jelly tasted like whiskey, which I’m sure some people would love, but for me the strong whiskey bite was a turn-off. The last cheese was the marisch with cayenne pepper. I was really excited about this cheese because the marisch, much like the Swiss mountain cheese, seemed like it would make a great canvas for other more flavorful ingredients like cayenne pepper. Unfortunately, this cheese was way too salty to enjoy. I couldn’t even taste any of the cayenne. Overall, I thought the cheeses offered at this vineyard were great and if you’re ever in South Africa you should definitely stop by.
I’d also like to mention that the accompanying wine was fantastic as well (though I’m not sure how much my opinion is worth, I am not as knowledgeable about wines as Stephanie). We got to try a tasty pinotage, which is a mix of pinot noir and hermitage, and at this point, I think South Africa might still be the only country to produce this type of wine (though I hear Australia is on its way to producing its own).