Thursday, 24.01.2019
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Reviews, recipes and news from the grapevine
   Reviews, recipes and news from the grapevine

Savoury special
World Cheese Awards
It was an honour and a privilege to attend the World Cheese Awards as a judge again this year.
Held in the NEC as part of the BBC Winter Good Food Show, the event drew together 261 international judges this year from to taste 2,777 cheeses from all over the world.

15.12.2013 - For the first time ever, the same cheese came in first and second!  How can that happen?  The cheeses can be entered in more than one category.  They are divided among the 60 or so judging tables in groups to be tested by the first round judges.  Each table awards bronze, silver and gold medals to their cheeses and chooses a super-gold to go forward to be selected by a panel of 16 top experts, this year from 13 nations, for the final 15.  Two cheeses of Montagnolo Affiné, a creamy blue cheese from Kaserí Champigonon which is available at Tesco and Waitrose, got over all the hurdles and through to the final 15, in the end separated by just one vote from tying!

“We have learnt this morning that our Montagnolo Affiné has won the first prize at the World Cheese Awards 2013 in the UK…  To have been honoured as the best cheese in the world by such a prestigious and independent expert jury pleases us and makes us very proud.  This award shows that our cheese makers at Kaserei Champignon, having more than 100 years’ experience and tradition, not only craft our products with knowledge, but also with commitment and ambition.  The whole team at Kaserei Champignon says thank you for this very special honour”, said Robert Hofmeister, CEO at Kaserei Champignon. 

John Farrand, MD of the Guild of Fine Food, organiser of the competition said: “After 25 years of the World Cheese Awards this is the first time that a cheese made in Germany has won the top honour.  Our judges were united in their praise for the Montagnolo Affiné with one judge describing the cheese as ‘visually beautiful with a soft blue grey bloom and melt in the mouth, velvety flavour’.  This is a very worthy winner from an accomplished cheesemaker.  To take first and second place shows that our judges’ palates tune in to faultless cheeses; in this case they picked two made by the same cheesemaker.”  In 2012 this same cheese was named Supreme Champion at the Nantwich International Cheese Show.

Third place this year went to a Le Gruyère AOP Premier Cru from Cremo Von Muhlenen, which was just one point behind Montagnolo Affiné in the final voting. Le Gruyère AOP is the only cheese to have topped the World Cheese Awards on three occasions.  Ten of the super-gold cheeses to go forward for the final selection were from Spain.

Locally the Canaries scooped at least 15 medals, ten bronze, two silver and three gold.  We were delighted to see that one of the golds was for Adeje dairy Montesdeoca for their semi-matured gofio rubbed cheese.  This dairy sells from the agricultural market and their own base at Tijojo Alto (just past the Disa garage on the road from the Atalaya roundabout to Guía next right and 500 yards on the right).  They are currently funding works to make it possible for tourist groups to visit the dairy.

Sadly there were some old faces missing this year.  Controversy surrounded this year’s awards after the Guild of Fine Food, was refused permission to bring in cheeses from countries including South Africa, Brazil, Mexico and Japan, apparently on public health grounds.  Since the only people to actually taste the cheeses are the judges, it is hard to understand the ruling which seems arbitrary in the extreme.  We will be following up on this and trying to discover the reasons behind it.  Despite this, 2013’s competition attracted a near-record level of entries, with 79 per cent coming from overseas.

However, for the first time this year I was able to spend a little more time at the fair and tasted and tippled my way around the many stalls to be found there.  Lots of novelties and surprises, some of which we will be reviewing in an upcoming issue.


By Sheila Collis

Gallery: World Cheese Awards
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