South Africa’s Cheese Festival – it’s not just for turophiles!
Please see SA Cheese Festival for dates and venues for the next event.
When I think of cheese I think of things like cheese fondue, chevin, goats milk, brie, camembert, mozzarella, feta and absolute decadence. I like nothing better than slicing off a piece of cheese when I walk past the fridge at any time of the day or night and I know there are so many cheese lovers around South Africa. You will be excited to hear that the South African Cheese Festival is taking place at Bien Donné farm (situated between Franschhoek and Paarl) from 24 to 27 April 2010.
The first cheese festival was held in 2002 and 12 000 eager cheese lovers came to see what the festival was all about. The festival has grown from strength to strength with 22 000 visitors in 2008 to almost 29 000 visitors in 2009. What’s attracting all of these visitors you may be asking yourself? Well, it’s because the SA Cheese Festival is the place to go to find the widest selection of cheese currently available in South Africa. Delicious treats to accompany the cheeses will also be on offer – olives, nuts and wine for you to find that magical pairing.
With plenty to do, see and taste this festival is a treat for the entire family. The Checkers Cheese Emporium is an air cooled marquee and is definitely the largest selection of cheeses in the country under one roof. Some of the exhibitors in this tent are Ladismith Cheese, Simonsberg, Lancewood and the Checkers World of Cheese. Don’t forget to pick up your free ticket to see Nataniël in the Checkers Theatre, collect your ticket before the show at the theatre ticket office outside the Checkers Cheese Emporium and get there early as there is only seating for 250 persons.
The Cheese Market is a fantastic spot where you are able to sample cheeses that have been made using old age methods and hours of patience. This is an old country market space and the cheeses share the floor with speciality deli products which enhance one another. You can either fill up your basket here or you can make this your end point where you unpack some of your fabulous finds and enjoy them under the shade in the market square.
The Mall is the spot to find the most wonderful accompaniments for your cheeses. Your senses will be delighted by the home made preserves, breads, wines, nuts, pesto’s and more on offer. Something new and unique to this area is the new SA Olive Experience which is all about olives. Here you can fall in love with olives, or if you are already an enthusiast this is an opportunity to purchase a tree, taste some of the purest olive oils and sample the various olives, tapenades and other olive products. This is a perfect place to find gifts for upcoming winter dinner parties.
Find some of South Africa’s well know celebs and icons such as Sarie & Sarie Kos Magazines’ food editors, Beyers Truter and Soli Philander at The Cooking Pot. This team will bring you the best and latest menu items to create at home with cheese. This is a must for any wannabe chef or dinner party enthusiast.
Your children are not left out of this event as there is a dedicated Wilde Fruit Juices Kiddies Corner with professional entertainers to keep the little ones busy while mom and dad find treats to fill their baskets. Young children can enjoy having their face painted, enter a colouring in competition or bounce up and down on the jumping castle while teens can retreat into the Cheese Chiller tent and watch television and play games.
Let your children discover the interesting journey milk takes to get from the cow, goat or sheep onto your kitchen table at the Milk Factory. You will be able to taste raw milk, as nature has made it, and learn how to make butter and cottage cheese the traditional way from those in the know at the Worcester Museum.
Gourmet Lane & Ladismith Cheese Music Gazebo steps the menu up a bit with delicacies such as fresh oysters, smoked hake and fine foods. Eat drink and be merry while you listen to the sounds of BRAWOU! in the background. And if music is what you’re in the mood for make your way to the Dairy Square and Music Spot where you can sit down and have a picnic with friends and family while you enjoy the atmosphere around you.
Need to know
Some important information is that tickets for Saturday and Sunday cost R110 per person while Monday and Tuesday cost R90 per person. This price includes a shopping bag, festival programme (so you can plan where you want to go when), tastings and inspirational demonstrations. No tickets will be on sale at the gate so you need to purchase your beforehand either in one of the many Checkers stores or from Computicket. Pensioners can enjoy a discount as tickers are only R70 for the entire festival and children under 12 years are free of charge.
If you’re not a turophile, you will be after you have spent the day at this festival! But don’t let that word scare you – it is just a posh name for someone who really loves cheese! Happy tasting everyone!
Photographs courtesy of and © SA Cheese Festival