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September 3, 2010

Chris CEO, Lesley from Cape Town Blog, Hila from Add to Taste, Maryke Sales Marketing Manager, Charles Back, owner of Fairview, Nina from My-Easy-Cooking, Linda from The Squashed Tomato, Jessica from Tiny Oven Adventures, Colleen from browniegirlblog

Photograph taken by Di Back and borrowed from Fairview Blog

Fairview Goat Tower

Bruce Rowbotham Cheese Maker

So, to get onto the matter of other Nannies (of the goats do roam type) after we had spent some time with the gorgeous pregnant mamas (its a week tomorrow, I wonder how many new kids there are since we were there?) and the playful, hungry, frisky, curious, friendly and happy kids in the nursery and creche, after we had heard all that dedicated Donald Mouton could tell us about the herd of 900 goats that he takes such excellent care of, we said our farewells and headed on over to the Cheese Factory where we were greeted by the cheesemaker Bruce Rowbotham. Bruce has been involved with cheese making for nigh on 20 years already, 7 or 8 of them with Fairview. Our first instruction was to put on plastic coats, little hair caps, plastic shoe covers, sign an indemnity form and we were away….starting to sweat already in our plastic macs. We had been given a special privilege of taking our cameras into the facility with us. This is not allowed as a rule. Thank you Bruce! What would this blog be without the photographs??

Getting kitted out

We passed a water basin with antiseptic soap, washed our hands, pushed through the thick plastic curtains over the doorway and entered a long passageway with many doors leading off on either side. I think we were all totally struck by the absolute cleanliness of the factory. My goodness you could comb your hair and put lipstick on using the surfaces and you could definitely eat straight off the floor without batting an eyelid. I went through a cheese factory many many years ago and I still remember the smell……oooh it was nasty! I had been secretly afraid of experiencing the same but this was definitely not the case here at Fairview – it was clean, and smelled just like warm very fresh milk (if you have ever spent time on dairy farms you will know what I mean by the smell of fresh milk, straight from the cow into a bucket). Oh there was one room where the strong stinky cheeses were maturing that did smell quite overpowering but even that smell was not hugely unpleasant. All in all it was such a pleasant experience, I think we all got so caught up that we didn’t even notice the sweaty workout we were all getting inside our plastic coating ūüôā

Bright and clean Fairview Cheese Factory

The first room that we entered was where the fresh milk from earlier that morning had been delivered. There was a round vat of 1000 litres and another rectangular one of 2000 litres that was just starting to bubble from the cultures that had been added. Bruce informed us that the cows milk they used was 100% Jersey milk obtained from a single source rather than from many smaller sources like some other factories do it. This way he was able to keep a beady eye on the source of the supply.

2000 litres of milk starting to separate

From there we went through to another room where we saw curds (I think) being strained off and put into largish buckets and being sent offto another room.

All the while throughout the tour Bruce explained the processes of making the different cheeses at Fairview. It got rather confusing and I dont remember a lot of it so I am just going to take you through with the photos that I took

cheese curds being measured off and taken through to the brining room

Cheeses Resting in their brine bath

¬†The next room that we went into we all just ooohed and aaaahed, firstly because it was so delightfully cool after the other much warmer rooms, and secondly at all the rows upon rows of rolls of blue¬†tower cheese in the airing and drying room. This is where they get taken and put through a machine that punches lots of holes into each one so that the blue growth can grow along the veins….the cheeses were all in varying stages of blue growth, from the new ones in this photo to the older ones towards the other side and those that were ready for washing and the next stage of the process. I tell you all of us cheese sluts were absolutely delighted with this room…and there was still more to come!!

Blue Cheeses by the dozens, in the drying room where the temperature is kept constant at a low of about 8deg and the humidity is high

 We were then taken into a couple of rooms where the bries and camemberts were resting merrily growing the mouldy skins that would indicate their stages of ripeness and readiness.

I found it fascinating to see the fine white velvety fluff growning on the round little camemberts. The bries are made in bigger rounds and then finally cut into wedges for packaging.

Camemberts and Bries growing their moulds

¬†The only room that we were warned about the smell before we went into it….where the stinkiest of all the cheeses were maturing and even there it was not unbearable, more interesting to know what that cheese was and what it was going to taste like. I believe the La Beryl (named for Charles Back’s late mother) is the strongest of the cheeses. It is South Africa‚Äôs first washed rind cheese and made in a similar¬†style to the French Pont-l‚Äô√Čv√™que which dates back to the 12th century.¬†During the ripening process it¬†developes a characteristic orangey¬† colour and a strong rather pungent aroma and flavour. I must say it is not unpleasant to taste and I might even get used to it ūüėČ

Those stinky cheeses I mentioned earlier

After we had been through the last room of cheeses, passing many smiling happy employees going about their jobs, and noticed some funny smallish parcels of cheese packed to one side that Bruce told us were his pet experimental projects (they looked really interesting too. I saw caraway seed in one I think)  we were then brought finally into the packaging area where there about 4 employees packaging different cheeses. The gentleman who was packing the Fairview Ripe and Ready Camembert in its fun modern packaging was Jimmy and we were told that he is totally blind. He was a great inspiration to us all I believe, happily doing his job with great pride. So when you buy a box of Fairview Camembert in the stores, please remember Jimmy who packaged it so well for you to take home.

Jimmy the blind employee at his packaging table

¬†I just think that it is pertinent to mention here (even though we didn’t see it being made) the new style Feta Cheese that is being proudly produced at Fairview by Bruce and his happy team of cheese helpers.¬†

Developed over six months,and using the latest technology the innovative team have produced a firm-textured, velvety smooth ‚Äėbrineless‚Äô feta made from¬† that¬†Jersey cows‚Äô milk which I mentioned earlier. ‚ÄėThe new inline thermoform¬†packaging eliminates the need for brine to be used and¬†reduces carbon emissions as no transportation of feta and brine water¬†around the country is needed. There is also quite a saving of water as a regular 400g tub of traditional cheese in brine containes 300ml of brine (which is salt and water) that goes down the drain eventually. By packing it as they do now the brine is saved and re-cycled by filtereing and correcting the salt concentration then pasteurised and used again. The new flat packs reduce the amount of plastic used as well. The new pack also reduces the amount of plastic used per kilogram and offers close to 100% barrier properties. While not a new concept as other products are packed similarly, Fairview claims to be the first to try and take on the traditional way of packing feta on a larger scale. So there you have it….brine is so YESTERDAY! This new feta is deliciously smooth, not quite as salty as feta that sits in brine on the shelves. Aimed at the same market as the traditional feta, this new format is targeted particularly at environmentally-conscious consumers. It comes in¬†convenient 100g or 200g size make it suitable for pensioners, students, people living alone and small families who would consume it in one sitting or, at most, in three to four days. The price is also good. And children love it. When we were out at Fairview some weeks ago with Tyler the older grandson he kept going back to taste it……he even tasted the La Beryl and said it wasnt too bad…..and eventually hauled out his pocket money and bought himself a 100g pack!!

Once we had been through the factory we were then taken across to the Goatshed Restaurant by our lovely hostess, Maryke Truter the Sales & Marketing Manager for the farm. There we we met Chris Davis the CEO and then Charles and Di Back, owners of Fairview Farm who all joined us for a lovely lunch with wine and lots of happy chatting. We left there feeling confident that our hosts knew a lot more about blogging, tweeting and social networking, which are the best restaurants in Cape Town and surrounds and other food trivia!! The food was amazing, everyone enjoyed their choices. Nina went so far as to come over to me and pop a forkful of her most amazing filet steak into my mouth for me to sample. It was so very good. Nina swears it is the best steak she has ever eaten in her life. So if you want to experience that, get thee over to the Goatshed very soon!  

In the Goatshed Restaurant - Hila from Add to Taste; Maryke Truter Sales & Marketing Manager; Charles Back owner of Fairview Wine Farm; Nina from My-Easy-Cooking; Linda from The Squashed Tomato Blog

¬†Of course I couldn’t NOT show you what I ended my meal off with…..Oooooh it was heaven in a cup! Made from dark Belgian Chocolate and cream Thats all!!

Decadent, thick Belgian Hot Chocolate so thick it can be eaten with a spoon!!

 At the end of the lunch we were presented with a delightful hamper each that contained an assortment of Fairview Wine and Cheeses, a recipe booklet for the new Feta and a lovely crossover apron.

Fairview Cheese and Wine Hamper

 Finally the long wait was over for the 3 finalists Nina from My Easy Cooking, Hila from Add to Taste and Linda from The Squashed Tomato when Chris announced the winner of the competition which turned out to be Hila!

Congratulations Hila, hope you enjoy spending your lovely voucher at the Goatshed soon.

A thrilled Hila Jonker from Add to Taste after being presented with her prize

A very very big thank you to Fairview Wine Farm and Chris Bryant for taking the iniative and engaging food bloggers in a challenge. We all thoroughly enjoyed the experience from beginning to end. It was a privilege and honour to have met you all and to have been on such a wonderful tour of the farm. I will definitely be back with my grandsons to visit the goats and little Choliwe the steenbokkie.

Have a wonderful weekend and I do hope that you are all wearing your Casual Day Stickers today to aid our disabled. And with it being Arbor Day I hope you plant a tree for the generations to come.

browniegirl xx

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2010 4:02 AM

    Looks like you all had a most wonderful outing at Fairview. All those yummy cheeses and goats that roam. Now I have to be honest and say the one thing that truly stuck for me was that dark Belgian chocolate and cream dessert. All the other pics seemed to fade when I saw that one. Worth a visit just to try that.
    Thanks for sharing your adventure with us Browniegirl x

  2. MissChris permalink
    September 3, 2010 6:14 AM

    Ooo I want to go back to Fairview – a visit is definately needed – I always stock up on cheeses when I visit there!! Nyum, Nyum

  3. Supa permalink
    September 3, 2010 7:23 AM

    Fascinating tour ! that must have been a most enjoyable day.

  4. September 7, 2010 3:17 PM

    Wow Colly, this is a great account of the cheese tour!! You have an amazing memory – were you sneaking notes?! Thanks again for a great day out! x

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