Cape Town - It’s that time of the year again when cheesemakers from every corner of the country converge on the Sandringham fields near Stellenbosch with tempting arrays of soft, semi-soft and hard cheeses.
They range from individuals who produce small quantities of artisanal cheeses that never reach the shops, to our giant producers who offer new flavours and ranges to tempt supermarket customers. Culinary celebs will be there to entertain with demos and debates, while pairings of wine and coffee with cheese, salt and other ingredients are on the menu.
Boutique cheese producers include Karoo Goats’ milk, Camphill Farm, Anysbos, Domino, Madame Fromage, Montagu Cheese and Buffeljagsrivier Primary School. Several small producers have been able to grow their businesses thanks to sponsorship from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture which includes exposure at the festival.
The fest is a family affair and children will be well catered for with games, television and visits to farm animals while rugby enthusiasts of all ages will find their matches playing on big screens.
Get your tickets, which cost R130 from Computicket or from any Shoprite, Checkers and House & Home store.
Remember that no tickets will be sold at the festival gates. Children under 14 go in free. Senior citizens pay R100. The festival takes place from April 26 to 29, from 10am to 6pm.
Try these tempting cheesy recipes, created by Arina du Plessis, on family and friends – they are likely to become firm favourites with all ages and tastes.
Phyllo-wrapped camembert with green fig preserve
A classic pairing dressed up to make an innovative finale or a rich course for a weekend brunch.
2 rounds of camembert cheese
about half a 250g container cream cheese
3 whole preserved green figs
3 sheets phyllo pastry
45ml melted butter
Preheat oven to 190°C.
Cut each camembert horizontally to form two thinner circles.
Spread some cream cheese on three of the four circles. Slice the figs thinly and arrange evenly over the cream cheese toppings.
Stack the camembert rounds on top of each other with the slice without cream cheese on top. Spread each sheet of phyllo pastry with melted butter and stack the pastry layers on top of each other.
Place the camembert tower in the middle and fold pastry around to form a package. Transfer to a baking pan lined with baking paper and bake for approximately 20-30 minutes until the camembert is soft and warm, but not runny.
Serve warm with fresh bread. Serves around 8.
Ricotta and cinnamon cake
Serve with fresh seasonal fruit or simmer fruit in spiced syrup (using cinnamon, star anise and vanilla) and serve warm with the cheesecake.
500g thick natural yoghurt
230ml castor sugar
15ml powdered cinnamon
2 extra-large eggs, whisked
250ml cake flour
15ml vanilla essence
Preheat the oven to 180°C and spray a 24cm loose-bottomed pan with anti-stick food spray. Mix all the ingredients well and spoon in prepared pan. Spread evenly and bake for 50-60 minutes, until firm. Leave to cool to room temperature and serve. Serves 12.
French onion soup with cheese croutons
A popular Gallic classic that is economical and easy to make, this is the ideal soup for chilly holiday nights. Chicken stock can be used in place of beef stock for a lighter result.
6 large onions, sliced thinly
60ml (4T) butter
1.5 litres beef stock
30ml melted butter
15ml cake flour
1 medium French or Italian bread
60ml crumbled blue cheese
60ml grated Parmesan cheese
60ml grated strong cheddar
Combine the onions and butter in a large, heavy-based pot. Heat slowly, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to colour. Cover the pot and braise the onions gently until soft.
Remove the lid and continue to fry onions until light brown and caramelised. Add the stock and heat to boiling point, while stirring continuously. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Mix the melted butter and flour and heat in the microwave to boiling point. Remove and add a teaspoon of the mixture to the boiling soup while slowly whisking, then add remainder, stirring.
Simmer until the soup thickens slightly, then reduce heat and keep warm.
Pre-heat the oven grill. Place 6 slices of bread on a baking pan and drizzle with olive oil.
Mix the cheeses and spoon a portion on each slice of bread. Grill the bread until crisp and the cheese is bubbling – remove from oven. Reheat the soup and and top each portion with a cheesy slice. Serves 6.
Naan pizza breads with onion marmalade, brie and rocket
The naan breads can be replaced with tortillas or pitas, horizontally halved. Pesto makes a good substitute for onion marmalade when you want to ring the changes.
6 naan breads
125ml onion marmalade
2 brie cheeses, sliced thinly
2 large handfuls rocket leaves
100ml Parmesan cheese, shaved
fresh lemon juice
preheat the oven’s grill.
Place naan breads in single layer on a baking pan and spread a little onion marmalade on each then top with the sliced brie, dividing evenly.
Grill breads until the cheese is bubbling.
Remove from oven, sprinkle over the rocket and Parmesan, and finish by sprinkling a few drops of lemon juice and olive oil over the cheese. Serve immediately. Serves 6. - Cape Argus