| 17 nz dairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Karikaas Natural Dairy Photos: Aimee Thorne and Jared (PITO) check out the cheeses in the young store. A selection of Braid cheeses by Karikaas A rtisan North Canterbury cheese maker, Kari- kaas, is proud to have received one of New Zealand’s coveted special awards along with a bunch of medals at this year’s NZ Champions of Cheese Awards. With a fine reputation for Dutch style cheeses, this small rural producer has been punching above its weight for many years, having consistently won accolades at the country’s top specialty cheese awards since first entering in 1995. Karikaas chees- es are lovingly – and patiently – handmade using traditional European methods. Milk for the cheese is sourced from a happy herd of well-fed cows in Oxford. Quality cheese like this takes time; even the youngest cheeses take two months to produce while intensely flavoured Vintage lines take at least two or three years. Rounds are coated and turned regularly while maturing. Last year, Karikaas Maasdam – a sweet nutty cheese, a Dutch version of the Swiss Emmental, won the best European Cheese. The company also took home a number of other gold and silver medals. In 2021, the Karikaas team is chuffed to have received the Ignite Colleges Chef’s Choice Award for Karikaas Pumahana. This special award is still quite new, having only been introduced last year. The 2021 panel of judges – Alfie Ingham, head chef of Hugo’s Bistro; Volker Marecek, executive chef of the Cordis Hotel; and Jasbir Kaur, Culinary Arts Manager and General Manager of Ignite Colleges – were tasked with looking for a cheese that could be used effectively on a hotel/restaurant/café menu to give wonderful depth of flavour. The winning cheese they selected was Karikaas Pumahana. This full-flavoured cheese has been well aged and made with a blend of pep- percorns and a dash of chilli for spicy warmth. Karikaas shines again at cheese awards Richard Loader “We’re thrilled to have been selected for this special award,” says Diana Hawkins, general man- ager and co-owner of Karikaas. “Our Pumahana is my own personal favourite and it’s exciting to now have this recognition from some of New Zealand’s leading chefs.” This champion cheese also won a silver medal in the Fonterra Co-operative Group Original Cheese category. Karikaas Pumahana is part of the Karikaas Braid series that brings together their best cheeses with packaging that promotes New Zealand endangered birds living along Canterbury’s braided rivers. Ka- rikaas is sited nor far from one of these rivers, the Ashley-Rakahuri River. Packaging for this special series includes information on where each featured bird is found, their threats, and pictures of birds and their eggs. Karikaas Pumahana’s packaging for this series highlights the black-fronted tern/tarapirohe. A portion of proceeds from Braid series’ sales goes to the local Ashley-Rakahuri Rivercare Group. Karikaas Vintage Gouda, another top cheese in the BRaid series, features the Wrybill/ngutu pare. This cheese was also picked as one of the best at the 2021 NZ Champions of Cheese Awards, having won a gold medal in the AsureQuality Dutch Style Cheese category. Also in that category, Karikaas won a second gold for its Gouda entry and a bronze medal for Karikaas Cumin/Leyden cheese. Adding to the awards haul was a silver medal in the European style cheese category (Karikaas Maasdam). More than 310 cheeses from 35 cheese com- panies were entered in the 2021 NZ Champions of Cheese with 265 medals awarded in total. Master Cheese Judge Jason Tarrant praised the high calibre of entries this year that showcased New Zealand’s world class cheeses. The Karikaas team won the 2021 Ignite Colleges Chef’s Choice Award for its Karikaas Pumahana.