Category Archives: CheeseShop news

A wicked whey to end a wedding

Cheesemonger Robynne Harvey with a wedding cake made of New Zealand-made cheeses.

SAY CHEESE: Cheesemonger Robynne Harvey with a wedding cake made of New Zealand-made cheeses. MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ

Article by Meg Thompson—published in the Nelson Mail on 22 October 2012.

A popular Ruby Bay cheese-monger offers a wedding cake option for people who want something a little less traditional.

They are cheese cakes—made of stacks of whole cheeses.

CheeseShop co-owner Robynne Harvey has been ageing cheeses for the last 13 years and makes her cheese cakes for special occasions.

“The cheese cakes are my biggest passion.”

She said the cakes are most popular for people who want alternative wedding cakes.

“They’re people who aren’t cake people; they want to have glasses of wine and cheese.”

The cakes sell for between $350 and $500 and can weigh up to 10 kilograms.

“That’s a lot of cheese but if you’ve got a couple of hundred people at your wedding they seem to scoff it,” she said.

As one of the only cheesemongers in New Zealand, Harvey buys cheese from New Zealand cheesemakers and ages them until they are ripe.

She said there was an art to being a cheesemonger, something she taught herself and is still learning.

“If you get it wrong they go in the bin. All cheeses ripen at different rates and things can get over-ripe before you know it.”

Harvey has been selling her cheeses at the Nelson Market for the last 13 years and said she has only missed two weekends—once when she went to Australia and once recently due to bad weather.

She also sells them at the Motueka Market and online.

“They are very popular … I sell to people all over New Zealand,” she said.

Harvey has seen how New Zealand’s cheese tastes have changed over those 13 years.

“I think we’re getting more sophisticated all the time and people are almost starting to turn their noses up to the bigger blocks.”

The former secretary got into the cheese business because of her love of food which she gets to indulge in when she taste tests her cheeses.

The secret to her success: “Treat customers as you would want to be treated.”

Cheese takes the cake

Robynne Harvey with a wedding cake made from cheeses.

SAY CHEESE: Robynne Harvey with a wedding cake made from cheeses. MARTIN DE RUYTER/NELSON MAIL

Article published in the Nelson Mail on 16 July 2009.

Forget the double chocolate cake, the lamington tower or traditional fruit cake the wedding cake du jour is solid cheese.

Moutere-based CheeseShop co-owner Robynne Harvey has been approached to make a cake for a Dunedin woman who got married in the United Kingdom and wants to recreate her cake for friends and family in New Zealand.

Cheese wedding cakes were “very trendy” in the United Kingdom, Ms Harvey said.

“They have been for a couple of years. We are a bit slow here.”

Ms Harvey said the woman had showed her a picture of the cheese cake she’d had and the CheeseShop was putting together a selection of award-winning New Zealand cheeses for the bride.

The cheeses would be couriered, with assembly instructions, to Dunedin for the woman to assemble for another ceremony in August.

The original cake weighed around 19 kilograms, enough to go around 200 to 250 people in a buffet style meal, and retailed for around $900.

Ms Harvey said the cake heading to Dunedin would be smaller, feed about 100 to 120 guests and cost about $350.

The CheeseShop has stalls at both the Nelson and Motueka markets, and also sells its cheese on the internet.

Ms Harvey said it was the first wedding cake she had made, despite having been approached by other people, usually those back from trips to England, in the past.

Like many wedding cakes, once the bride and groom had been photographed cutting it, the cake’s tiers would be dismantled and eaten, she said.

“I would serve it with breads, crackers, lots of fruit and lots of different nibbly options like seafood pate and nuts.”

Cheese trade coming of age

Mapua cheesemonger Robynne Harvey with, from left, a wheel of Meyer vintage gouda topped by a Meyer maasdam and a wheel of Karikaas vintage maasdam topped by a Whitestone sheep's milk blue.

SAY CHEESE: Mapua cheesemonger Robynne Harvey with, from left, a wheel of Meyer vintage gouda topped by a Meyer maasdam and a wheel of Karikaas vintage maasdam topped by a Whitestone sheep’s milk blue. PATRICK HAMILTON/NELSON MAIL

Article published in the Nelson Mail on 1 February 2007.

From blue to brie, from camembert to cumin spiced – there are so many choices when it comes to cheese. Naomi Mitchell spoke to a Ruby Bay cheesemonger who is passionate about everything cheese.

Cheesemonger is not the most common of job titles, but it is one that Robynne Harvey is proud of.

Harvey says it is her job to hand pick quality cheeses from throughout New Zealand and ripen them until they are at the perfect age to eat.

“What we get in the supermarkets is very unripe, which is dreadful,” she says.

At any one time Harvey normally has between 70 and 80 cheeses ripening in a special industrial-sized chiller on her Ruby Bay property. They are aged anywhere from three weeks to five years old.

As well as running a website she also sells at the Nelson Saturday Market, and has only missed one weekend since she started with the business five years ago.

“I have a passion for it.”

Harvey said people were now more aware of specialty cheeses and what is on offer, something she thinks might be because more New Zealand cheeses were winning international acclaim.

“Thirty years ago really all we had was big square blocks of colby.”

The majority of cheeses Harvey sells are made in New Zealand, but she does import buffalo mozzarella and parmesan from Italy.

The cheeses range in price from $20 a kilogram to $70.

It is clear by looking in Harvey’s chiller, that ripening cheese is a fine art.

She has shelves of large wax-coated wheels of cheese, and several more shelves of bries kept in special plastic bags.

“They are in their own microclimate, with their own air,” she explains.

The cheeses must be turned regularly to ensure they ripen evenly and Harvey uses a “cheese iron” (a special instrument which can take small samples from the whole cheese) to determine when the cheese is ready to eat.

Harvey handpicks the cheeses that feature on the cheeseboards at Hopgood’s restaurant in Nelson.

She recommends when putting together a cheeseboard that you include one soft cheese (like brie), one blue cheese, one hard cheese, and one flavoured cheese (like cumin or herb).

Round cheeses should always be cut into wedges, but square cheeses can be cut in blocks.

Cheese wafers, fruit, crackers and breads are good additions to the platter, as are fruit pastes, relishes or preserved fruits.

Harvey also creates her own chutneys, and pickled figs to accompany the cheeses.

Harvey says “there are no rules” when it comes to matching cheese with wine, and people should experiment and find out what works best for their tastes.

Another tip – some speciality cheeses are covered in beeswax, which creates a rind. Harvey advises that you cut the rind off before eating it.

(She feeds hers to her appreciative dog and her neighbour’s guinea fowls).

Cheeses are best eaten as soon as they are purchased, but if there are any leftovers, they need to be properly stored.

“The fridge is horrible for cheeses.”

In winter, cheeses can be wrapped in waxed paper and stored in a plastic container in the cupboard.

The container will need to be put in the fridge over summer, but Harvey says it should be taken out at least three hours before you want to serve the cheese.

While she is normally quite happy to eat cheese with an apple for lunch, or nibble at it from a platter, some people like a more substantial cheese meal and Harvey recommends the recipes shown on the recipe page of her website.