Dairy farmer turned cheese maker Eckard Leicher of La Montanara, a small cheesery near Ashton in the Breede River valley, has taken home top honours in Woolworths first-ever Cheese Makers Challenge.
Situated at the foot of the majestic Langeberg, between the towns of Ashton and Swellendam lies La Montanara Dairy farm, replete with sprawling grassy plains and a happy herd of cows.
At the helm of it all is resident dairy farmer and cheese maker Eckard Leicher, whose Royal Ashton cheese was crowned the winner of this year’s Woolworths Cheese Makers Challenge.
TASTE CAUGHT UP WITH ECKARD TO TALK CURDS AND WHEY:
How did you become a cheese maker?
- I started out as a dairy farmer when, in 1993, I decided to start making cheese on a small scale to supplement the farm’s income. Before long it blossomed into a fully fledged business.
Where did you learn your trade?
- I did a short course at the Cape Institute for Agricultural Training in Elsenburg, but I must admit that most of what I know about cheese today was learnt through trial and error.
Tell us a bit more about your winning cheese, the Royal Ashton?
- It’s a semi-hard cheese made from Ayshire milk with similar characteristics to that of the Dutch Maasdammer. It has a slightly sweet, nutty character.
What does your Royal Ashton pair well with?
- It works wonderfully on pizzas, paired with preserved green figs, or eaten on its own with a glass of light red wine or sauvignon blanc.
What other cheeses do you produce?
- I also make a Danish style feta, pecorino, Parmesan and halloumi. *Look out for Eckard’s Royal Ashton on Woollies shelves, on sale now.
La Montanara produces a wide range of dairy products for the connoisseur. They have been supplying Woolworths with numerous popular cheeses since 2001.
These include Danish Style Feta, Organic Feta, Organic Gouda, Organic Cheddar, Organic Fat Free Cottage Cheese, Daily Cheese, Goat’s Milk Feta and Halloumi.
Pick up Eckard’s Royal Ashton on Woollies shelves and Woolies online store, on sale now.